Mass Transit Is Making Gridlock Worse

Mass Transit Is Making Gridlock Worse says nationally known economist Stephen Moore

Lars says it’s part of the “war on cars”

Local conservative radio host Lars Larson teed up the topic of mass transit making traffic congestion worse. He based his remarks on a great column by economist Stephen Moore.

“The scandal here is that mass transit is adding to traffic congestion problems across America. It is also blocking mobility as we divert billions of gas tax dollars, which are supposed to get spent on road repairs and expansions, to white elephant transit projects with minuscule ridership that, in most cities, is shrinking.

Meanwhile, the public is increasingly infuriated by traffic gridlock. In 2018, the average driver lost $1,348 by sitting in traffic.”

Sounds like the Portland metro area, right? One recent study indicated Portland has the nation’s 7th worst traffic congestion. Furthermore, polling by both the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) and Portland Metro indicate the number one prior citizens want fixed is traffic congestion.

Moore adds:

Even the urban myth that billions of dollars of big-city transit subsidies are needed to help the poor and minorities is fatuous. The percentage of Hispanics using transit has fallen 21% since 2000. Over the last two decades, almost 1 in 5 black commuters has stopped riding transit. The percentage of people with incomes below $30,000 who use mass transit fell over the last 20 years, while those with incomes above $75,000 has risen.

Ironically, the most significant change in transportation over the past several decades is that millions more poor people and minorities can afford to own a car and drive where they want and when they want. For low-income households, transit is something not to aspire to but to be liberated from. Studies show conclusively that owning a car is literally and figuratively a road to higher incomes for those at the bottom.

For TriMet, light rail ridership peaked over a decade ago. Furthermore, in spite of adding TWO new MAX light rail lines, total ridership today is below numbers prior to the expenditure of several billion transportation dollars to build two new MAX light rail lines. Here are the numbers from a FTA (Federal Transit Administration) graphic.

And that is just the light rail ridership. Bus ridership for both TriMet and CTran are down significantly as well.

Here is TriMet bus ridership — down 9.4 million passengers from a 2009 peak. That’s a 14% decline.

Here is CTran ridership numbers. Total ridership peaked two decades ago in 1999 and we’re down roughly 1.5 million passengers.

Stephen Moore comments: “The latest transportation data underscores the futility of transit as a solution to inner-city gridlock. Today, fewer than 1 in 20 commuters take transit to work.”

The 2018 PEMCO survey validates Moore’s comments, here in the Pacific Northwest. 94% of people prefer to use their private cars for transportation.

Stephen Moore added:

Yet urban planners arrogantly refuse to listen to what commuters want, as they pour money into fashionable light rail systems that people use the least. Transportation expert Wendell Cox has noted that for the exorbitant cost of transit subsidies in many cities, “It would be less expensive for taxpayers to purchase every transit rider a brand-new Prius.”

Take a listen to the commentary and discussion on Lars!

**********

ADDITIONAL REFERENCES

Uber & Lyft carry more people in Seattle than Sound Transit’s light rail carry, the Seattle Times reports.

*********

TriMet Drops Ridership Estimate by 13% for Tigard Light Rail

Cascade Policy Institute  (here)

By John A. Charles, Jr.

After eight years of bragging that the proposed light rail line to Tigard would result in average daily ridership of 43,000, TriMet has quietly dropped the estimate to 37,500.

This “bait-and-switch” was totally predictable. At the start of every rail planning process, TriMet creates a high ridership estimate to get local politicians excited. Once the politicians agree to help fund the project, ridership forecasts are revised downwards. Eventually construction begins, and just before opening day, ridership estimates are lowered again.

At that point, it’s too late for politicians to back out.

*********

Frustrated with Traffic? According to PBOT, That’s Your Problem

Cascade Policy Institute (here)

By Rachel Dawson

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), the agency charged with building and maintaining the city’s transportation system, is shifting the responsibility of improving traffic congestion away from itself and onto individual residents.

This was made apparent in a recently released 2018 report provided by Bloom Communications that surveyed Portland residents’ attitudes and perceptions of the Bureau. The contents of the survey are unsurprisingly critical of PBOT and demonstrate Portlanders’ increasing frustration with the region’s transportation system.

Of the themes that emerged, survey participants were generally concerned with safety on public transit, potholes and degrading roads, increasing traffic congestion, and PBOT’s lack of vision.

People want safe and efficient commutes. 81% of participants said that driving their car was the safest way for them and their families to commute, as they have greater control over who they come in contact with and what happens to them.

********

TriMet’s plan for a $2 Billion tunnel under the Willamette River will eliminate a dozen downtown light rail stops

TriMet’s MAX light rail system has two huge weaknesses. One is the Achilles heel – all MAX light rail trains use the 117-year-old Steel Bridge. The other – they can only put two cars in a train, due to the length of a downtown Portland city block. Both weaknesses were known and ignored in the original creation of Portland’s light rail system.

Read about their plan to spend over $2 Billion on a tunnel that will eliminate a DOZEN light rail stops between Lloyd Center and Goose Hollow on the west side of downtown. (here)