No More Failed Rail

No More Failed Rail

Light rail was first introduced to the Portland Metro region by TriMet in the late 1980s. Since then a total of five “MAX” lines have been constructed. The Metro Council and TriMet have made the same promises every time a light rail line has been considered—that it will decrease traffic, cut greenhouse gas emissions, cut down on travel times, have frequent headways, and have high levels of ridership.

Every time these promises are made; every time these same promises are broken.

Traffic congestion increases as travel lanes are stripped away from drivers so that light rail can have an exclusive right-of-way. Travel times are longer than promised as light rail speeds decrease year after year. Train headways are less frequent, often occurring every 15-30 minutes instead of the promised 7-10 minutes. It takes decades for a MAX line to account for the greenhouse gas emissions that are produced during the construction of the line, and that’s if ridership is as high as Metro and TriMet have forecasted.

However, ridership numbers never come close to estimated levels. In fact, TriMet ridership has been decreasing every year since 2012, meaning that any new light rail line will have a high cost with very little added benefit.

The same promises were made again by Metro and TriMet with the proposed SW Corridor Light Rail project, which would have connected downtown Portland to Tigard’s Bridgeport Village. The project would have cost nearly $2.8 billion in 2023 dollars. Voters soundly rejected the measure in November 2020.

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Comments 3

  1. Avatar for yukari kubo

    yukari kubo

    10:11 am - December 13, 2019

    I’m not sure the person writing this has actually ridden the max regularly. Perhaps contributing to the congestion that is increasing every year due to the unprecedented influx of people actually moving to Portland from other cities due to these fantastic amenities Portland provides. Is max perfect? No. I recently came back from Japan, and I was frustrated by how slow our Max system is to their sophisticated rail system. However, we are one of the few cities that actually has light rail for our community and am a daily rider of it because it works. It is faster to get into downtown to work on the max than driving and parking. I don’t have to deal with frustrating congestion and traffic – which is wonderful for my stress levels. It is also WAY cheaper than driving and parking. We need to be investing more into the max system rather than less, so we can improve the system. I hate riding the bus because it goes as slow as traffic. I would ride the bus all of the time if there was a dedicated lane for it to bypass all the people trying to drive to work. If we make our max and bus lines faster than driving, more people would use it! It was a visionary mayor that created Portland to be the world renowned destination city that it is for its size. As an undergraduate studying Urban Planning in Indiana, the professors used Portland as one of the model US cities. We need MORE light rail not less.

  2. Avatar for james white

    james white

    3:33 pm - March 5, 2020

    you are right yukari that compared to Japans bullet trains ( Shinkansen ) go much faster than light rail. In fact Trimet Max trains have a governor that limits their top speed to 58 mph.

    The SCMaglev in Japan hit 603km/h (374mph) in a test run near Mount Fuji.

    The TGV train system in France can operate at up to 300 kilometres per hour (186 mph) on high-speed lines, and 160 kilometres per hour (100 mph) in the Channel Tunnel (Chunnel).

    Even China and South Korea have maglev (magnetc levitation) trains.

    Max trains use obsolete technology barely ahead of the old (“vintage”) trolley cars that use to go up to Council Crest.

    You are wrong when you say “we need to be investing more into the max system rather than less..” The Trimet Max system is a too slow and a bad technology failure. Pull the plug now!

  3. Avatar for Marvin Von Renchler

    Marvin Von Renchler

    9:30 pm - September 1, 2020

    It is disheartening to see the ignorance that drives most people who are positive about this light rail. Its a disaster in Seatle. Its a disaster in most cities. Ride4rship is so low that it cant even come close to paying for itself. Even if every seat was fall, it wouldn’t hold or move enough people to make a traffic difference. Trimets last meeting showed ridership projections. They projected thousands of riders per week. Hmmm—where do all those folks park for the stations? Up[on asking I was told that trimet is projecting MOST riders would walk or bike to the centers!!! Really? THOUSANDS of walkers and bike riders? These trains will never be full. The projections are to fake the taxpayers into think thousands of cars would be taken off the commute. Cars have to come into the parking stations—cars that would normally be driving to work in other places.

    Do you know what we could do with that money? Do you know why the city/state is pushing for this? Simple…job security. New trimet jobs. New millions to be made from the contractors THEY chose to do the work. Future trimet jobs indefinitely to run the system. It will drain us forever. Just look at Seattle and San Francisco. Regarding comparing it to systems in Japan, etc. You just cant. Apples and oranges big time. The voters get to decide this, Im told. Trimet is pushing the ‘reduced traffic’ propaganda very hard. Everyone will fall for it. Business as usual taking advantage of an ignorant population of sheep.

    Im to lose my house of 27 years. My daughters only inheritance. It wont give me enough to buy another home in this state.

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