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TriMet Zombie Light Rail Project-cm

TriMet’s Zombie Light Rail Project

By John A. Charles, Jr.

President Trump is not the only one refusing to accept election results. The general manager of TriMet, Doug Kelsey, is claiming that the $3 billion Tigard light rail project is still alive, even though Portland-area voters rejected a proposed funding measure by a wide margin last month.

 At a recent public meeting, Mr. Kelsey stated that Tigard light rail would be built eventually because “demand still exists.”

That is a complete fantasy. Peak-hour ridership on all MAX lines during October was down 72% from a year ago. Unlike driving levels, which have nearly returned to normal, transit ridership has remained depressed over the past 9 months. Transit riders have simply moved on to other options.

Rail transit in particular requires high levels of both residential and worker density, but COVID has induced a mass exodus of workers from downtown Portland. Many of these changes will become permanent. Employers have discovered that remote working is not only feasible, it’s preferred by many employees.

Where is the value proposition for a network of slow trains to the city center if few people need to go there?

The TriMet board should start downsizing the agency immediately, and the easiest first step would be to cancel a rail line that doesn’t yet exist.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free-market public policy research organization.

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  • Robert Clark

    Zombie is pretty good term. Because it is eerie and like a bad dream which keeps coming back. If Trump would have won re-election I think that would have made this boondoggle go away fro a few years more. But now these jokers have a shot of milking the Federal government for most all of the costly project.

    • 10:35 pm - December 11, 2020

  • Jerry Ward

    The distance we have traveled on the issue of Tigard Light Rail should never have happened. I attended several of the early Town Hall meetings on Tigard Light Rail. A good percentage of attendees asked that any formulated proposal(s) be voted on by all paying counties in METRO-which was never done. Finally, after many years, the recent Bond measure that included many other projects besides Tigard Light Rail was turned down by voters. When Metro finally gets around, and sometimes they don’t, to allowing a vote on their light rail projects they have been turned down by voters when all paying citizens are given the chance. This says a lot.

    And now with the present and future fallout from Covid a whole new dynamic of transportation needs is before us. We need a reset of transportation priorities from Metro, Tri-Met and other contributing governmental agencies.

    • 8:45 am - December 16, 2020

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