Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Speech-HOLY CRAP 189 VIEWS IN 1 DAY?!

Hello, I am Cameron Johnson, 16 year old member of OPAL Bus Riders Unite. And I think it's time I said what's been on nearly everybody's mind. First off, TriMet, with all its flaws, is a top of the line Transit System, don't get me wrong on that. But it's rapidly deteriorating, because of reasons many people have stated before. Paying $2.30 for a bus that runs at best every 20 minutes. 4 Rounds of service cuts back to back to back to back, and to top it off, a fare increase. I'm going to be perfectly frank, if I hear the phrase "It was necessary to fill up budget holes." one more time, I'm going to hurl. You're right now proposing more than $150 million of your own funds on "Transit Related Projects" which, I may add, has nothing to do with the hundreds of miles of Bus Service and has everything to do with 5 miles of light rail. $150 million. What does that mean in terms of bus service? That's tens of thousands of bus hours saved, true "frequent" service, as opposed to the current joke, and dozens of needy bus stops improved with amenities and infrastructure. You may not view this as a choice between one or the other, but when you're crying poverty, it absolutely is. [cut - Now for all of those who can't fathom $150,000,000, I'll put it simply. It's a whole lot more than TriMet filled up with their service cuts! So it may as well have been that the whole reason for our mainly bus service cuts and then some was to fund the Milwaukie MAX Line.
I was really excited to see in the Tribune front page strewn around the back of my line 14 bus that "TriMet's not letting bond measure failure slow them down." I was almost proud at first, because I thought "TriMet's really listening to people and taking something away from this!" Then I read the sneakily placed subtitle that said "Board proceeding with Milwaukie Light Rail Project." I almost ripped said article to shreds. In fact, I could imagine that said article got left on the bus in the first place when someone else read said article, got frustrated and threw it back down on the seat across from him.
I'm going to say this as straightforward as I can, because I'm sick of beating around the bush and because you're don't seem to get it. The Milawukie MAX Line IS NOT NECESSARY. It only benefits one part of the metro area, and half of the people there don't even want it. It may be a nice addition, but it is definitely
NOT worth its $1.6 billion price tag that all these sources like the Lottery and the City itself are putting towards with when it could be going to so many better sources,
namely improved bus service. The biggest problem is not the original investment or approval, it's continuing to throw money at a black hole, with no analysis justifying the increasing cost. When the federal government said they would provide only 50% match instead of 60%, that should have been a reason for smart people to pause and consider the opportunity cost of throwing more money at a problem. But TriMet seems to have viewed this as just another schoolbook challenge, without considering the consequences on real people. People are losing trust in you for this, including me.
Not only are you ignoring what people actually want, but you're doing it without good reason.
such as safety and education and helping people who truly need it, like the HOMELESS or the impoverished or the otherwise suffering, or a much easier way to help the environment than THIS. Instead, we're blowing all that money on a way that a few thousand people could save 10 minutes getting around instead of taking the 33, which will run at the same frequency as this MAX Line. It's POINTLESS. If this gets voted for, I may as well abandon all hope right now, and I'm darn well about to. This company is making a transition from a Transit Agency to a Development Agency. A Development Agency can be good and all, but here's the catch, if you become a Development Agency, THERE IS GOING TO BE NO TRANSIT AGENCY LEFT FOR THE CITY. Listen, I know you're good people. I have no doubt about it. But you really gotta understand that the MAX line is nothing more than a pet project by you guys and for you guys. I understand, I'm an Author, and It would be a dream for a book of mine to be published. But Draining a billion and a half out of the city and its people to see it completed is like me publishing a book of slander of everyone I know and love- It's going to hurt everyone involved, including you.

You've got to understand that not only SHOULDN'T vote for this, you CAN'T vote for this. It's going to be a huge blow to the city
and our future ability to take care of all our riders.
Because if you continue on your "development at all costs" approach, you will lose the confidence of your core riders, and there won't be any transit agency left.
From all of us in the city to you, do not vote for this. For once in your term, actually let what people are saying influence your vote, because if there were no people, there would be no TriMet.

Whew. I needed to get that out. BADLY.

So, there's my speech, and I really hope to make no edits to this, i.e. no one from OPAL thinking this too risque, God bless their lives. Because they really need to listen to this. BADLY.

Well, see me tomorrow! Bye!

Edit: Expansion edited. Thanks Jon and Grayce at OPAL!


  1. And there you have the difference between Sound Transit, and King County Metro Transit here in Seattle, personally I think its why we are fairing better, we have a contract, and cuts have been here and there, but nothing drastic (yet).

  2. While there are many reasons to be skeptical about MLR, this:

    The Milawukie MAX Line IS NOT NECESSARY. It only benefits one part of the metro area, and half of the people there don't even want it.

    is not a particularly valid one--why?

    Because it's pretty much true for any particular piece of infrastructure. Eastside MAX only "benefits" the east side, and there are plenty of folks out in Gresham who were opposed to the thing--who wanted the Mt. Hood Freeway instead.

    Westside MAX only benefits Washington County, and plenty of folks out here would have preferred expansion of US26 instead. (We got a little of both).

    Airport MAX only benefits airport users and Parkrose. Yellow Line, only benefits North Portland (with the potential to benefit the Couv). The Green Line only benefits PSU students, SE Portland, etc.

    Likewise, the Sunset Highway doesn't benefit Gresham commuters, I-84 doesn't benefit those in Beaverton, and neither is a major benefit to folks down in Oregon City.

    Viewed in isolation like that--viewed as only beneficial to those immediately along the route--no infrastructure project justifies its cost. But when you build a NETWORK, whether it be rail lines, bus lines, or roads, you get something which far exceeds the sum of its parts.

    Again, I have issues with the MLR project as currently planned, mainly due to the financing question. I have little doubt, though, that the project (or some other RT corridor) is important--the debate IMHO should not be around if, but when. (And perhaps how).

  3. I agree with EngineerScotty.

    The views that you, and others, put forth for MLR (or any light rail project) are far too isolationist. I don't live in Milwaukie, but I have friends that do, and that means that I will benefit from its existence simply because I can use it to visit them. Milwaukie businesses will benefit because they have easier access for transit riders.

    I've been riding TriMet all of my life - I'm 33. I grew up on buses, I rode MAX to Pioneer Square the week that it opened. I lived downtown and worked in Beaverton when the westside opened. I now live near Mt. Scott and use the green line to commute to work.

    I will jump on a train without a second's hesitation, but if I have to take a bus I'll usually just drive instead, and I know that there are others like me.

  4. Yeah, that's what I get for making a speech in 1 day. :/ Points taken and declared valid. Still doesn't make me want the MAX all that more.

  5. Signe,

    You write:

    I will jump on a train without a second's hesitation, but if I have to take a bus I'll usually just drive instead, and I know that there are others like me.

    What's the reason for that, in your case? It's a common sentiment, and a good part of the justification for MAX over BRT is "more riders take the train". Many of us in town have no issues with the bus, but others seem to regard the bus as a badge of shame.

    What is it about the bus that you dislike? If it's performance-related issues (slow, unreliable, etc.)--what do you think of high-quality BRT? i.e. busses running in their own right of way rather than running in mixed traffic?