Sunday, December 22, 2013

Excellent analysis of Trimet's failure to meet air quality standards

This article is re-published from MaxRedline
December 20, 2013
At Least They're Consistent  

At the development agency known locally as TriMet, little things like "laws" really aren't supposed to apply to them, or to their partners at Metro. Things like the Clean Air Act, for example, are merely inconveniences to be routed around. They certainly don't apply to TriMet:

In previous decades the Portland region failed to meet national air quality standards for carbon monoxide pollution and was designated a “non-attainment” area under the federal Clean Air Act. As a result, the region was required to develop and implement strategies to reduce carbon monoxide.
One of the strategies is that TriMet must increase transit service by 1% annually for the period 2006-2017, on the premise that more transit service will reduce auto-related carbon monoxide emissions. TriMet’s compliance must be measured on the basis of a 5-year “rolling average” of actual hours of service. The “baseline year” for compliance is 2004 and includes the opening of the Yellow MAX line, which began operating that year. This strategy was specifically devised by TriMet to grandfather in the Yellow line, thus giving the agency the best chance for compliance.
But, gosh darnit, wouldn'tyaknow, even that advantage didn't pan out. Rather than meeting their increased service requirement, the Agency's "service" has actually been declining. Oh goodness.
This shouldn't be a problem, but for one teensy little detail: if they're not in compliance, then the millions of "federal" dollars that they're salivating over goes away. Roh-roe. Obviously, this calls for swift action, and if there's one thing that the good ol' boys in the Friends of Neil club know how to do, it's act.
Immediately, they contacted their bedmates over at Metro, and together they set about moving the goal-posts. Quickly now, all together boys, One, Two, Heave!
Now, rather than the originally agreed-upon five year rolling average, they're moving to a ten year rolling average - and the "baseline" begins in 2008, not 2004. This ploy allows them to bump up the numbers by including the red and green lines, along with their brand-new Porkland-Milwaukie line when that opens.
With "service" levels still declining, this won't have any effect toward bringing them into compliance, but it'll buy more time - and more "federal" dollars. After all, they're really not concerned about carbon monoxide levels in the air we breathe, they're concerned with carbon dioxide because greenhouse gas - and so they can continue their crusade to build rail for developers, who will then profit from sweetheart deals while building more stack-and-pack "housing". They're all about density.
Because being dense is a job requirement for local politicians.
Their "service" levels aren't going to increase, because they're not providing service levels that people want or need: rail doesn't take most people where they need to go or where they want to go, and as the Agency continues to cannibalize bus services to pay for rail operations, they're actually driving more people into personal cars. Moreover, since TriMet is on a mission to cut line employees' benefits by 50%, which they claim is necessary to allow them to restore "services" that they've already cut, their plans are doomed to failure: nobody driving or maintaining their vehicles is going to accept such cuts when managers are getting fat bonuses and pay raises. They know that, and so the strategery of TriMet management is clearly to evade the provisions of the Clean Air Act by increasing levels of carbon monoxide (due to their "service" cuts forcing people to drive more, rather than less), then blame their failure on line staff.
Then the managers can bail, with fat bank accounts and pensions (and no accountability). Likely, they'll buy discounted condos with expansive views from their developer pal, Homer Williams.
While everyone else is left holding very expensive paper bags of poop. Go Buy Light Rail!

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