Thursday, May 29, 2014

Trimet wants two more white elephants called WES trains

Trimet headquarters is all of a sudden rolling in dough, after years of pleading poverty. Now I've been watching the financial forecasts as Double Dipping Dave has been presenting them to the board of puppets and the last I heard they were behind on their forecasts.

 But apparently none of that makes any difference now in this years budget. 'They' are planning on bringing back all the bus service to 2008 levels and even want to buy 2 more  vehicles for that WHITE ELEPHANT WES. 

Party time at Trimet, except for the employees and especially for the retirees some of who will experience true hardship due to Mcfarlane's ruthlessness.

Plans for WES expansion: The staff recommends purchasing two additional vehicles for WES, at a cost of $8.5 million, or $13.2 million over 20 years of debt service. All of those costs will cannibalize other general fund programs. I’d suggest that this proposal be pulled from the budget and possibly added back later, after further public vetting
WES is TriMet’s most expensive fixed-route service, but I’m not aware of any justification that has ever been offered. Fewer than 1,000 TriMet riders benefit from these subsidies each weekday. Why are WES riders so privileged?
To put the issue in context, below are the costs of WES compared with those of similar bus service offered by SMART of Wilsonville. While WES is undoubtedly a nicer and quicker ride for users, the cost premium is difficult to justify to non-riding taxpayers who have to make up the difference.
Express Service from Wilsonville Station to Beaverton Transit Center

Operating cost/mile Operating cost/hour

TriMet Express Rail $43.74 $949.84
SMART Express Bus $   1.30 $   83.17
In addition, WES is an energy hog. According to a new report by the Federal Railroad Administration, the average energy consumed by all commuter rail systems in America during 2010 was 2,923 British Thermal Units (BTU) per passenger-mile. WES was close to the bottom: It consumed 5,961 BTU per passenger-mile, more than twice the national average (by comparison the top performer was Stockton, CA: 1,907 BTU/passenger-mile).
Not only is WES inefficient compared with its peer group, it is wasteful compared with other modes of travel. The national average for all transit buses in 2010 was 4,240 BTU per passenger-mile; for light-duty cars, the average was 3,364.
WES has always been a planning mistake. Before the Board decides to double-down on failure, there should be careful consideration of an alternative action: terminating service. None of the current board members had anything to do with the original decision, so no one should feel a personal need to defend it. Certainly terminating service would result in some short-term costs because of likely re-payment penalties to the federal government, but at some point the lower operations would provide net benefits to taxpayers (including those outside of TriMet’s district in Wilsonville, who pay TriMet more than $25,000/month to subsidize train operations).


Jason McHuff said...

As mentioned here the "SMART Express Bus" statistic is not achievable ($83.17 / $1.30 would be 64 MPH, higher than even the highest speed limit on the route) and not comparable (late evening when traffic is light).

Erik H. said...

So, Jason McHuff, you are stating that the City of Wilsonville is cooking the books?

If so, then why don't you go to the Secretary of State's office and lodge a formal complaint that the City of Wilsonville is using improper accounting, in turn reporting inaccurate financial reports to the Secretary of State's Office along with the Federal Transit Authority and other federal agencies?

You have no problem running out into traffic on S.W. 5th Avenue and accusing them of violating motor vehicle laws, so I dare you to report the City of Wilsonville to the SOS if you honestly believe your claim is true.

Max said...

Jason didn't make that statement (did you follow the link?) "Anandakos" did.

Even still, what is easily shown is that Cascade Policy Institute (which is known for cooking things like this) is comparing a mini-bus that makes a single trip (at night), with no stops, to WES. Not saying WES is "affordable", but comparing it to this bus is pretty ridiculous.