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TriMet hates us. March 25, 2011

Posted by Archer in blog.
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I swear TriMet hates the riders of the 99 Express.

First off, the word “Express” is so misapplied here it isn’t even funny.  In my language, an “Express” would make few, if any stops, between an origin and a destination.  In the 99’s case, it would start at Clackamas Community College and make exactly two stops before the Transit Mall: Oregon City Transit Center and Milwaukie Transit Center. Ok, and maybe that little Park and Ride lot in the “Milport” industrial area.

Not the 99.  It lumbers down McLoughlin, only skipping a handful of stops between Oregon City and Milwaukie, before it even thinks about living up to its designations as an “Express.”  Which is really idiotic when you consider that there are only a half-dozen stops the entire five mile trip from Milwaukie to downtown Portland even for the 33.  McLoughlin is essentially an expressway anyway at this point.. literally a couple of bridges, a few offramps, and a few dead cyclists away from being Portland’s sorriest excuse for a freeway.

The 99 also seems to be where TriMet sends a bus to die.  Bus # 2116, a seemingly regular piece of equipment for the 99, certainly is nearing the end of the line.  The suspension feels like it has already left this earthly vessel for the pastures of Summerland.  The engine clacks loudly: the sound is disturbingly similar to an old 1950s fire engine a friend owns that has a valve tap.  And I swear the A/C hasn’t had refrigerant added to it since R-12 Freon was banned.  Of course there is no automated stop readerboard.  On the plus side, it doesn’t talk, either.  So there’s little to disturb your slumber in the morning, other than the hard suspension, the noisy motor, and the non-existing climate control.  Hey, beats the SF MUNI electric trolleycoach fleet that literally leaked in the rain.

It wouldn’t matter, except it is the performance of routes like the 99 that generate the ridership studies that justify expansions of MAX.  And the ridership of the 99 is pathetic.  The last AM run, which leaves Oregon City around 8:10, is rarely more than 1/3 full.  When it laps the 33, it does pick up some additional passengers at Milwaukie Transit Center, but it’s never quite enough to completely fill all the seats.

And I’m left to wonder if the 99 Express was a nicer bus, like the new hybrids that C-TRAN has purchased, if it wouldn’t have better ridership.  The 99E corridor certainly has a lot of commuters: not as many has perhaps I-84, but with both Oregon City and the unincorporated area in between there and Milwaukie has designs on being Portland’s Next Big Thing, as far as commuter suburbs go.  Oregon City has been lobbying for years to get MAX, and wants to redevelop downtown Oregon City’s recently defunct paper plant as a mixed-use urban village, and the old dump site on the east side of downtown as an outdoor sports-focused big-box mall.  Hey, if any place in Oregon can support a Cabela’s, it’s the hicks in the mix we call “rural and suburban Clackamas County.”

All this urban development can go two ways.  It can be another auto-centric traffic clogged dumpster like most of Washington County, or it can be a model of mixed-use developments the likes of which we haven’t seen before.  A neighborhood that is both transit AND auto-friendly: big-box mall and suburban housing on the outskirts, and a dense quasi-urban core in the middle, with good transit connectivity to downtown Portland.  But only if the latter part is clean, safe, and pleasant.

Meanwhile, I just put my foot in something oddly sticky.  I’m not even going to ask, as I grin and step off this rickety carriage onto 6th Avenue and into my workplace, shuffling my feet to get whatever muck I just stepped in.

Two Stop Tina February 28, 2011

Posted by Archer in Uncategorized.
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It’s on days like today, when the weather sucks, that I’m actually happy to take the bus.  I don’t have to cope with driving in the rain or snow, and I can sit back and relax with a drink and my smartphone and read the news.  Or, listen to podcasts.  Or, perhaps, blog about sitting on the bus.

The thing I don’t like about bad weather on the bus: “two stop Tina.”  I don’t know if this person’s name is actually Tina, and it certainly isn’t the same woman every time.  This is the person who hops on the bus on McLoughlin somewhere, takes it for one or two stops, and hops off.

I don’t understand this.  It would be one thing if the person was disabled.. but they rarely are.  Nor are they traveling with children.  They’re usually in their 40s to 50s.  They have an air of “cougar on the prowl.”  And they only seem to ride the bus when the weather is bad.

Why?  On a bad day, we can make a half dozen stops on the boulevard picking up and dropping off these short trippers.  And it can easily add a few minutes to the overall trip time, which wouldn’t be so bad, but with all the construction around the Ross Island Bridge that just makes the bus that much later getting into downtown (note that I have a rant about that in the hopper for tomorrow).

I don’t know.  Maybe they’re on the bus for other reasons.  I did get the “cougar vibe” from the one that sat by me right around the Fred Meyer.

Maybe I need to wear a wedding ring.

Welcome! February 25, 2011

Posted by Archer in blog.
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Still working on the site, but.. here it is.