Westside Commuter Rail: A Financial Train Wreck

Westside Commuter Rail: A Financial Train Wreck By John A. Charles, Jr.              Download the pdf here February marked the one-year anniversary of the Westside Express Service (WES), the 14.7-mile commuter rail line that runs from Wilsonville to Beaverton. While the train’s owner, TriMet, has gone to great lengths to put a positive spin on this, […]

Paving the rails with gold

Since the voter defeat of Measure 28, public officials in the Portland region have proposed numerous emergency tax plans to stave off service cuts such as shortened school years. Oddly, these same elected officials are warmly embracing the joint proposal of Metro and TriMet to spend $850 million building two new light rail lines. According […]

Portland’s Regional Transit Strategy Is Not Working

By John A. Charles, Jr. The Portland Auditor released the 2016 Annual Community Survey on November 30. The responses show that the share of all commute trips taken by public transit fell 17% during the past year. This was part of a longer-term decline in transit use. The transit share of all Portland commute trips […]

Policy Picnic – October 26, 2016

Please join us for our monthly Policy Picnic led by Cascade’s President and CEO, John A. Charles, Jr. Watch Your Wallet November 8! Why You Should Vote No on Tigard Light Rail and Metro’s Open Space Levy Metro is asking for a new tax levy despite the fact that it already has sufficient funds to operate all its […]

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MAX at 30: Portland Transit Needs a New Plan

September 5 marked the official 30th anniversary of the opening of TriMet’s light rail system. Like many Portland residents, I took a free ride that day and felt that this was a big step forward for transit service. Unfortunately, actual performance never lived up to the hype. My hopes for “high-speed” transit were dashed when […]

Broken Promises: The Real Trends in TriMet’s Transit Performance (2004-2015)

TriMet’s ridership is declining and its level of fixed-route service is lower today than it was in 2004. According to mainstream transit advocates, the solution is to spend more public money. The problem is we’ve already tried that, and it’s not working. TriMet has been imposing a regional payroll tax on most employers since 1972. […]

Failed Promises: Why the Legislature Should Reject TriMet’s Request for New Spending Authority

TriMet is currently seeking new spending authority in SB 1510 to help finance regional “multi-modal” transportation projects. Legislators should deny this request based on previous experience with TriMet commitments. To refresh the memory: during the 2003 session, TriMet sought approval to increase the payroll tax rate by one-tenth of a percent. According to TriMet’s then-General […]

What Can Be Learned from Portland’s Smart Growth Experience?

The annual “New Partners for Smart Growth” conference opens in Portland on Thursday, February 11. “Smart Growth” refers to an amorphous planning theory favoring (or requiring) high urban densities, mixed-use development, and non-auto travel. Given Portland’s status as the Mecca for this philosophy, it’s likely that the conference will be a love fest of planners, […]

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