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some points: -It rains in Portland (too much for some individuals) Solo driving is more conducive to convenience of travel, something all non-car transportation has to deal with, bicycling in particular. -The breakdown of solo-driving to rail transit commutes makes me wonder how people who drive to a park and ride and then go by rail are accounted for? Are they rail users or solo car commutes, or both? Ditto a bicycle to a lesser extent. -Portland light rail system is based on, as are all transit in America networks, a radial layout. That means that if you want to go form Greshem to Clackamas you have to go downtown, re-commute outward again. Its a problem most cities transit networks have to deal, but in Portland with its growth pattern, its particularly acute. The transit system in built to move people downtown to work, but if job growth is not there due to physical limitations or previous development realities, then you have then a central oriented plan has only limited means of expansion. -Portland is a compact city with a small downtown core and urban growth boundaries (historical if not present, LCDC as I remember) both somewhat atypical for a Western US city. Comparisons with other cities with extensive urban sprawl are suspect i.e. non-work rail travel may be a significantly more important in Portland than lets say - L.A. -Likewise, my understanding is a significant portion of Portland's new residential growth has occurred in Downtown and adjacent precincts. If this is the case, one would not expect much increase rail ridership (except in "no-fare zones", but I'm not sure how that's accounted for, if at all), but more walking and bicycling. -Any successful transit project carries with it the seeds of its own destruction, not just Portland's. By that I mean the more people use mass transit, the less people drive, the less congestive freeways are, the less difficult sole auto travel is in general. Hopping in a car is always the least common denominator in commuting, its negatives easily rationalized in the short haul; the fall-back means to an end. Conversely, crowded trains is in itself a negative in the psychology of choice mass transit has to overcome. Many people would regard standing for a commute as a reason to go elsewhere. I saw TriMet rail in its infant days of MAX, east side to downtown being the only run. Predicted to have little ridership, little more than a conspiracy by planners to inflict their world view at taxpayer's expense, metropolitan light rail in Portland has come a long way. You need to have a longer range view both backwards and forwards to understand the positive impact it has had and will have one unique, and I emphasize unique, urban fabric. That said, for better or worst light rail is an integrated part of Portland life and lifestyle. I don't think many Portlanders are willing to give it up or even reduce its presence, because its yet to break, for whatever reason, a statistical plateau.
Toggle Commented Jun 13, 2012 on portland: a challenging chart at Human Transit
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Jun 13, 2012