President Obama is traveling the Midwest on a new bus purchased by the Secret Service. The vehicle is painted all-black with tinted windows and appears to be the size of a standard Greyhound bus. Inside, we can assume that it’s tricked out with the latest in high-tech security gear and telecommunications and designed with a kitchen, shower, bedroom and lounge area.

Given its purpose, the price tag must be enormous.

Actually, it’s not. It was purchased for $1.1 million. A typical light rail car in Portland costs $4 million.

Regular transit riders might want to ponder that. A light rail car has hard seats, no headrests, minimal legroom and no on-board internet access.

The Presidential bus can go on any road in America, while light rail is limited to just a small part of the Portland region.

The proposed Milwaukie light rail project will cost $1.5 billion. If we cancelled the project, we could buy an entire fleet of presidential buses and run them to Milwaukie, with free coffee and donuts for everyone, and we still couldn’t spend as much as TriMet plans to spend on one mile of light rail.

Maybe transit customers would like to try the Presidential bus for a few months before we waste $1.5 billion on a slow train to nowhere.

5 thoughts on “How many presidential buses does it take to equal the cost of one light rail car?

  1. Wait, I thought the train was going to Milwaukie. We should definitely cancel this if it’s going nowhere though. Good catch! I wonder how much a fleet of presidential trains would cost… can you look into this too?

  2. John,

    Maybe we could save some money on the train to nowhere if we, like the president, bought it from Canada. Or are we already doing that?

    Although in fairness Milwaukee is not nowhere. Judging by current usage of the max lines, how many people do you believe would actually use this service if it was up and running? Would more or less people use express buses?

    Just curious.

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