Has light rail been a mistake? (Portland, Salem: credit, university, buses)
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Yes but that would cost millions to install you would have rip out the stations and redo them. It will save you millions but take millions to install , LA is the only city that has plans to do it. I asked my state why they don't they said its too expensive ....
IDK what the cost would be, but I'm pretty sure it would be less then is lost from fare invasion. Security cameras are cheap these days. Installing fare gates, and fences shouldn't cost that much. You need to have ticket machines either way.
It may not work at every station, but you should be able to secure large sections of the system that way. Fare inspectors could then concentrate on stations that can't be fenced in. For example downtown stations. But most light rail stations I've seen could be easily fenced in, and have fare gates and cameras installed.
I visit Portland frequently, and I find the MAX line a godsend. I fly in, take the rail to downtown, get hotel, go to meeting. Same day or several days later, I pack up, rail to the airport, fly home. Love it! Much better than hunting for spots or paying parking downtown. It is a great concept, and from my impressions, well-used by commuters too.
I personally love trains so I'm always biased to favor them. However, I do believe there is signifcant room for improvement to the MAX here. Unless you are fortunate enough to live right on the line, it just doesn't draw people in to use it. Its very limiting in both geography and speed.
Look at the Metra system in Chicago. Its a hub-spoke system that services the entire Chicagoland area. If people don't live right on the line, they will drive to a nearby town to pick it up. Even with the drive to the nearby town, its still faster than driving downtown. That does not appear to be the case here.
I get that there are many reasons why people take public transportation. Being "green" is definitely one of them. Saving on expenses (gas/parking) is another. But a primary reason rail works in other cities is that its faster than driving. Case in point: If I wanted to take trains downtown, it would take me 70 minutes because I'd have to take the WES to Beaverton and then transfer. I live 12 miles from downtown. Even in rush hour traffic, I can drive downtown in 30-45 minutes. If the MAX was laid out so it services more of the surrounding areas and was faster than driving, ridership would grow immensely.
I agree with the poster who said buses weren't attractive because they are no faster than driving. Thats true for me because I have a car. But for people who don't, buses are invaluable. When I lived in Pittsburgh I took the bus downtown to work. I took the bus even though I owned a car. The reason was that Pittsburgh has busways (highways / roads where only buses can go). The buses would be able to avoid some of the gridlock and decrease my travel time. This really made for a compelling reason to take public transit.
Make Portland public transit faster than driving (or walking in some cases) and many goals would be accomplished.
The reason was that Pittsburgh has busways (highways / roads where only buses can go).
Chicago has those too but I think Portland may be too small. I also love trains; I take Amtrak every time I can. But light rail isn't much more reliable than buses. In fact the many people who are late for work or complain that they were delayed by traffic (trains have to cross intersections) or mechanical failure are referring the the MAX ride.
Portland needs to improve the MAX lines it has before continuing to build new lines.
That same system could work with proof of payment light rail too. Have the riders buy their tickets from a ticket machine out side, and use it to go through a fair gate into the into the station, which would also validate the ticket at the same time. Have security cameras to monitor the gates, from a central office. With the cameras it would be easy to spot anyone going over the top of the gates. Right away a description of the suspect or suspects could be broadcast to security. A fare inspector could board the train at the next station, locate the suspect(s) and ask for their tickets. Busted, that easy. Should be able to get 95% of fare evaders that way. It would be way more effective then the current systems, of inspectors, just randomly checking tickets.
The way it works, no turnstyles, at least in the traditional sense. It is literally like going through elevator doors, but they close much faster. Alerting security, good idea. You mentioned validating tickets. For MARTA, there are no actual tickets. Coins were often the preferred method. Now the Breeze cards are used. You have to put a certain amount of money on the card before you are let through the gate. If you don't have the money, you can't get through. If you do jump in, I agree that security should be call. More should be invested in preventing someone from jumping the gate.
Why do you say "relatively few people actually pay"? My car broke down so I ride the MAX to work everyday now and occasionally the fare inspectors came on. They rarely catch anybody these days from what I see. I usually ride rush hours. If the machine is broken, you're suppose to get off at the next stop and buy tickets there. Most machines are now working.
I think we need more fare inspectors, but I also think most people are paying the fares these days.
The MAX has enable me to put off purchasing a new vehicle for a few more months and that's great in my book.
JoJo - for quite a while there last year, it was rare to find a working machine. If they're mostly working now, then that's a significant improvement. I know you're supposed to get off at the next stop and buy a ticket, but let's face it - most folks didn't.
When I've ridden light rail it has mostly been during off-peak hours, like 6 am or 11 pm., as I'm at work during rush hours. And it's worth noting that if light rail takes you where you need to go, then you're one of the lucky 3% of transit users.
I know they are blaming the MAX for increase in crime around the Clackamas Town Center, but seriously, hasn't that place always been sort of ghetto? I mean they've tried fixing it up recently--but, didn't Tanya Harding used to ice skate there back in the day.
If the MAX ran down the sleazefest of SE 82nd (which is the original route some wanted), would they be blaming the MAX for the expected criminal activity in that area. Probably.
Personally I don't really care about any more of the planned MAX trains--if voters in Milwaukie and Clark County don't want them, then I sure as hell don't care about line expansions going to suburbs that I have no reason to go to, ever. Unless you connect the line into inner SE Portland, a huge section of Portland isn't going to be using the MAX very often anyways. The funny thing about the MAX is how much love it gets from transplants to inner Portland(personally, I'd rather ride the Yellow line in NoPo than most of the buses), yet it's always going to more geared towards people living in the suburbs commuting to downtown and low income folks in the poorer areas on the Eastside.
Deez - yeah, but Tonya didn't start kneecapping folks and throwing hubcaps until she rode light rail. :-)
No, really - that area has high-end shopping (town center) and lowbrow stuff as well - but it's always been that way. According to Clackamas law enforcement, however, crime in the area shot up after light rail went live. And crime has been decreasing in other parts of the county. As for 82nd Avenue: had they run light rail down there, I doubt that anyone'd notice. Actually, it might've forced the hookers to relocate. ;-)
What does Portland want public transportation for? Today I went to take a bus trip after work to the Hollywood Fred's only to discover the bus I used to take no longer goes there and I had to find a more circuitious route. The bus driver on the alternate route told me the first route was cut back with the advent of the Greenline even though it dosen't go anywhere near that line.
I use buses to get around everywhere because I have no car. Others use public transport only to get to and from work or sometimes special events once in a while. If we are looking only to get from point A to point B then the MAX serves a purpose. If Portland is truly trying to get people out of their cars to travel to a variety of places for a variety of reasons, the MAX just doesn't cut it.
That's the main reason I support increased bus service rather than new MAX lines. Everytime I see a new MAX line I know that bus service in many places will be decreased. That's not serving to get people out of their cars and into public transportation.
Minervah - That's exactly my point, which is why I view light rail as a leech rather than a transit solution.
In Atlanta, the system is made to where even a good turnstyle jumper would have problems. You have to buy a breeze card or some other card. No tickets are used. You have to scan the ticket before the gate opens, and if you plan to skip the gate, you have to be fast, and there are people to catch you if you try.
I find buses inefficient because they have to ride in the same traffic with cars. With the rail, you have a separate track, so no stalling in traffic. I can attest to the inefficiency of the buses. Where I live, Cobb County has its own bus system. At best it isn't not very good. The schedule might say 9:30, but the bus could come at 9:35 or 9:40. Sometimes the bus driver will take his or her time getting to the particular destination, holding up other riders. I can remember one day I planned my trip to where I could leave the school, and then come back at a certain time. It didn't work because the buses were late and changed drivers as well, wasting alot of time.
Pirate: I'd have less of an issue with light rail here if they incorporated the sort of system you describe for Atlanta. However, there are still issues: snow and ice, and power failures. When these occur, what does TriMet do? They bring in the buses. You never see light rail being used to "rescue" stranded passengers, because it can't. Buses can go where rail does not - and more reliably.
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