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“We will be watching,” was the warning from Sunrise PDX activists. (Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)
Concerns about climate change were made loud and clear to Metro’s Transportation Funding Task Force at their meeting last night. Metro is leading an effort to raise what some say could be as much as $20 billion for transportation infrastructure around the regional via a bond measure that could go to voters in November.
As lines are drawn on maps, lines are being drawn in the sand by electeds and advocates looking to stake out positions for debates to come.
“If we don’t make it clear to the public that our top priority is averting climate catastrophe, I don’t see it passing in Portland. And we need Portland to carry this measure.” — Chloe Eudaly, Portland City Commissioner
This was the sixth meeting of the 35-member Task Force, which is made up of elected officials and advocates from around the region. With their input, Metro has whittled a list of 75 corridors down to 26. Now the job is to place these in three tiers. Metro wants the Task Force to recommend a prioritized list of “investment corridors” in time for a Metro Council work session on June 4th.
At last night’s meeting, dozens of Portlanders — and several notable Task Force members — elevated concerns about the process and whether or not Metro is doing enough to set the stage for an investment package that would lead to a dramatic reduction in vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions. There was widespread concern that some of the corridors at the top of the list are merely placeholders for future freeway expansion projects that could increase driving capacity.
The “corridors of interest.”
Kasandra Griffin with the Community Cycling Center and the Getting There Together Coalition opened the public comment period by saying, “According to Metro’s adopted policies, the priorities for this process are simple: Only pick projects that will reduce climate change and increase equity.” Griffin then suggested that four corridors Metro staff has recommended as a top priority should be removed from Tier 1 consideration: Highway 212 (Sunrise Corridor), I-5 through downtown Portland, Highway 217 and I-205.
Those corridors “represent old thinking,” Griffin said*.
Volunteers with the Portland chapter of the national Sunrise Movement showed up in force last night. Wearing matching t-shirts, a few of them testified and about a dozen others were in attendance. 29-year-old Sunrise PDX Organizer Suzanna Kassouf said transportation justice is “at the very heart” of her group’s effort to “radically transform our societies and economies before our climate fate is sealed (in 11 years).”
“We are extremely concerned by the lack of priority placed on public transit as well as pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure in a city which considers itself a climate leader,” Kassouf said. “Many residents who depend on this infrastructure are members of our frontline communities. Specifically, low-income people of color, like myself.”
Kassouf said Metro’s bond measure is an opportunity to fund a Green New Deal for Oregon. “The young people in this room will live through the next sixty years, through the entire life-cycle of the decisions you are making, and through the worst, most destructive effects of the climate crisis if we do not act… The entirety of this package must be dedicated to the transition away from fossil fuels. The time is now to be brave. The time is now to be bold. Please, do the right thing. We will be watching.”
17-year-old Reynolds High School student Victoria Clark echoed Kassouf’s urgency by pleading with the Task Force: “I should be focusing on the fact that I’m graduating in less than a month,” she said, “but instead I’m… begging you to make the right choice and invest in our planet’s future.”
After public comment, Task Force members heard a presentation (PDF) about the readiness of specific corridors from consultants with Kittelson Associates Inc. They focused on the top three scoring corridors: Tualatin-Valley Highway, 82nd Avenue, and McLoughlin Blvd.
Metro’s proposed Tier 1 corridors.
Then Metro’s Director of Government Affairs Andy Shaw unveiled the agency’s first attempt to place corridors in specific tiers. Their proposal for Tier 1 corridors includes: 82nd Ave, Tualatin Valley Hwy, 181st Ave, McLoughlin Blvd, Hwy 212, Burnside, Downtown Portland, I-5 Downtown, SW Corridor, and SW 185th. In a potential Tier 2 list, he included: Powell Blvd, 122nd Ave, MLK/Grand, Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, Foster Rd., Division St., Columbia Blvd, 162nd Ave, 99W/Pacific Hwy, Hwy 217, Tualatin-Sherwood Rd, Hwy 43/Macadam, and Sandy Blvd.
Then it was time for Task Force members to speak up. A facilitator said she wanted to get a “gut reaction” and asked members to hold up green, yellow, or red cards to express how they were feeling about the corridor discussion so far.
(L to R: Mark Gamba, Vivian Satterfield, Chloe Eudaly, Jim Bernard.)
Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba was one of several people to thrust up a red card. “Virtually every single piece of public testimony we’ve had has spoken clearly and emotionally that the number one thing we have to think about is, ‘What are the climate impacts of this investment we are going to make?’… This is the only opportunity we will have to put this level of investment into our transportation sytstem in time to stop climate change. Climate change absolutely, positively, has to be the number one issue — and yet — of the categories being scored, climate isn’t even one of the categories,” he said.
“This process we have used for the decades — of piddling around, doing all these things before we actually get down to doing the thing that needs doing — has got to end.” — Mark Gamba, Mayor of Milwaukie
Gamba expressed concern that Metro’s scoring only considers safety, equity, transit potential and readiness. He wants an evaluation of how much carbon reduction would result from investment in each corridor under consideration.
“Readiness should be the very last thing we’re considering. When the U.S. was bombed in Pearl Harbor, how ready were we for war? And yet how quickly, and how decisively did we then win that war. This process we have used for the decades of piddling around, doing all these things before we actually get down to doing the thing that needs doing has got to end. We have 11 years. Climate must be the number one consideration on this list.”
The room then erupted in several seconds of applause.
Task Force member Vivian Satterfield, an environmental justice advocate with Verde NW, expressed worries that some of the top tier corridors wouldn’t deliver high-capacity transit service. “I cannot in good conscience go forward and put my name and my organization behind anything that continues to expand and add road capacity to our region,” she said.
Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly echoed Gamba’s remarks. “I’m surprised that climate is not clearly one of the determining criteria,” she said. “I’m not interested in decreasing congestion by making it easier for more cars to move through our streets.” Then Eudaly tied climate change concerns directly to politics: “This initiative is a statement of our values. If we don’t make it clear to the public that our top priority is averting climate catastrophe, I don’t see it passing in Portland. And we need Portland to carry this measure.”
Some of the tension in the room was the result of a common, chicken-and-egg problem that happens with processes like this: Agencies need general feedback on where to invest, but stakeholders need detailed information in order to give it. And given that the legacy of transportation funding has gone primarily to highway expansions, there’s an understandable lack of trust among progressive politicians and activists.
Task Force Co-Chair and Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson.
Task Force Co-Chair Jessica Vega Pederson tried to walk a line down the middle. She said staff told Task Force members that some metrics — like climate change — wouldn’t be possible to measure until after projects got more developed. Then Vega Pederson explained why she feels I-5 through Portland should be a priority. “I don’t have any desire to help ODOT fund a highway expansion project,” she said, “But I’m very interested in using investments in that area to connect neighborhoods in Portland that haven’t been connected before.”
Task Force member and Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard said he too agrees with Gamba’s climate sentiments, but feels Hwy 212 (aka Sunrise Corridor) needs to be expanded. “It’s one of the fastest growing communities in the state of Oregon, and transit is poor,” he said. “The Sunrise Corridor opens up a lot of land for opportunity… For me, it’s about the jobs-housing balance.”
The lines are being drawn and it will be a very interesting debate from here on out.
“Ultimately we need to put together a package that resonates with our values and with voters,” Vega Pederson said in closing remarks. “I’m confident we can get there.”
As Task Force members filed out of Metro HQ, they were serenaded with songs about hope and love from Sunrise PDX:
*The Getting Together Coalition has released their tiered corridor recommendations. Read the PDF here.
Metro’s map of highest scoring investment corridors.
We’re now three months since the official launch of Metro’s effort to raise funds for transportation infrastructure via a bond measure that could go to voters in 2020.
This is likely to be the most consequential transportation funding decision in our region’s history. With activism heating up and outlines of the measure being drawn, it’s time to put T2020 on your radar.
Task Force co-chairs are county commissioners Jessica Vega Pederson (L) and Pam Treece (R).
As the elected government that oversees federal transportation spending for the entire region, Metro is a natural leader of this effort. The agency likes their chances to pass a transportation bond given that voters approved a $653 million bond for affordable housing back in November. According to The Oregonian, the total ask could be as much as $20 billion when all is said and done.
Complete list of Task Force members.
Back in February, Metro kicked off the planning process to decide where and how to spend that money when the 35-member Transportation Funding Task Force met for the first time. They’ve met five times since then. Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson and Washington County Commissioner Pam Treece are co-chairs.
Will this thing be full of freeway expansions and leave crumbs left for everything else (like the State of Oregon’s 2017 transportation package)? Or will it be bold enough to smash the driving-centric status quo that’s destroying the earth and our lives more each passing day?
With so much at stake, transportation advocates from all backgrounds hope to influence the process. As expected, a key tension in this bond debate is how much of the measure’s revenue will go toward projects that increase access to driving, versus projects that encourage walking, biking, and transit.
The Getting There Together Coalition formed in 2017 and includes 25 organizations who want to make sure the bond makes the region more “livable for all”. Members include The Street Trust, WashCo Bikes, Oregon Walks, AARP Oregon, Disability Rights Oregon, APANO, and so on. Specifically, their priorities include: safety, public transit, a transparent process, prevention of displacement, and increasing access to transportation.
It’s still early days, but the Task Force has already begun to sketch out “corridors” where funds would be targeted. This shouldn’t be a surprise, given that Metro is a regional entity and wants to invest in infrastructure that crosses jurisdictional lines. And the “corridor” lens is already familiar to the agency. Metro’s 2014 Regional Active Transportation Plan identified 24 “mobility corridors” region-wide.
Based on input from the Task Force, Metro staff identified 75 potential investment corridors. After a scoring exercise, 26 corridors were placed in three different tiers: equity, potential for high transit ridership, and “high safety need.” (You can read a description of each corridor here.)
Transit ridership potential
• 82nd Ave
• Tualatin Valley Highway
• SE McLoughlin Blvd
• SE Powell Blvd
• Burnside Street
• Downtown Portland
• NE/SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd./Grand Ave
• NE/SE 122nd
• Sandy Blvd
• SW 185th Ave
High safety need
• SE Division St
• 82nd Ave
• 122nd Ave
• Powell Blvd
• NE/SE MLK/Grand
• SW 185th Ave
• NE/SE 181st/C2C (Clackamas to Columbia)
• Sandy Blvd
• Burnside Ave
The Task Force is expected to discuss the corridors gain at their meeting this evening and make a recommendation to Metro Council at their next meeting May 29th. Council plans to vote in spring 2020 on whether or not to refer the measure to voters.
With so much at stake, how many political compromises will leaders make? How far will advocates be able to shift the Overton window around what’s acceptable in terms of investment priorities? Suffice it to say, many questions remain.
(Designed by Portland-based graphic artist and photographer Gavin Rear. Photos by Gavin Rear.)
A kit designed in Portland (by Gavin Rear) and made by a Portland-based company (Castelli US) for a Portland-based team has been singled out for recognition by America’s sanctioning body for bicycle racing.
USA Cycling announced last week that the Portland State University Cycling Team earned runner-up honors for Best Kit of 2019. The inaugural contest was held via USA Cycling’s Instagram where followers chose their favorite team kits from 64 teams around the country. (The winner was Colorado School of Mines, also made by Castelli.)
Here’s what the team had to say about their great looking kit:
“When we were working on the new kit design our goal was to create something that could be raced in after the collegiate season was over. A piece that wouldn’t feel out of place at the local races, whether it was cyclocross or road. One of our teammates took the photos at one of our favorite roads for team rides. The new kit came alive amongst the greenery during the photo shoot. We also have a favorite sock combo for this kit, which are the matcha digi camo socks made by The Athletic. The Athletic is a local sock company that has been supporting PSU Cycling for many years, so we try our best to show off their socks as much as we can.”
Here are the most notable items we came across in the past seven days…
But first, a word from our sponsor: **This week’s roundup is sponsored by our friends at Treo Bike Tours in eastern Oregon, who encourage you to book your all-inclusive, dream cycling vacation today.**
The Economist knows: One of the world’s most respected publications offers a sober look at the massive subsidies propping up Uber/Lyft and private car use, and reveals the reckoning ahead as those subsidies begin to vanish. And what if Uber/Lyft put their weight behind congestion pricing as a way to keep their services price-competitive?
Freeway folly: Years after wasting $1 Billion to widen a freeway in Los Angeles, traffic has gotten… wait for it… worse.
Activism works: A councilmember in D.C. has introduced The Vision Zero Omnibus Act that would make protected bike lanes mandatory, prohibit right-turn-on-red, empower people to enforce bike lane laws, and more.
Scootless (no more) in Seattle:E-scooters are coming to Seattle and city officials recently hosted staff from the Portland Bureau of Transportation to seek advice.
SMILE Lanes: A University of Oregon planning professor asked his students to come up with a new name for “bike lanes” that reflects the need to welcome scooters and other devices into the space. They came up with Shared Micromobility Integration Lane with Emergency access, or SMILE lanes. (LIT Lanes is another one we like.)
(We love our bikes and we love our Blazers. Photos by J Maus/BikePortland)
Sunday is Rip City Ride Day
Game 7 is this Sunday! Show your support for the Blazers by wearing red and black and/or your Blazers gear while you ride. (Photo: Biketown)
We are very lucky to have an NBA team like the Trail Blazers. They’ve given us a very special season and now find themselves in a do-or-die Game 7 in Denver on Sunday.
This post is a blatant attempt to sew the threads of Portland’s love for the Blazers and our city’s love of bicycling together.
Beyond basketball, this team is easy to love. The players are thoughtful community leaders who care about one another more than individual statistics. They’re led by Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, two guys who get the job done on the court (and then some!); but whose stars shine even brighter away from it.
The best thing about the Blazers, and pro sports more broadly, is how they brings different types of people together. Common cause is a very powerful unifying force.
David Schermer remembered on Lawyer Ride Facebook page.
Cycling was a huge part of 69-year old David Schermer’s life. All the way up until the end.
Schermer died while riding his Giant TCR road bike down Pete’s Mountain Road in West Linn last Friday. According to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office there was no other vehicle or person involved in the crash. Evidence suggests Schermer lost control on the steep downhill portion of the road where it ends at the junction of SW Riverwood Drive and SW Hoffman Road (see photos below). The turn to Hoffman is nearly a right-angle and the turn to Riverwood is quite sharp as well. The last section of Pete’s Mountain Road drops over 100 feet at an average grade of about 7% in just three-tenths of a mile.
Sergeant Dan Krause from the Sheriff’s Office told me yesterday that a crash reconstruction and forensics team responded to the scene last Friday around 1:30 pm. Sgt. Krause said they found no skid marks and no other physical evidence of another bicycle or automobile. “It appeared to be an unfortunate incident,” he said. “We found nothing at the scene that would have caused this crash.” Schermer was found in a ditch about 20-30 feet from the intersection. He died on the scene from head and neck-related injuries.
(Left: Aerial view of the intersection with arrow showing Schermer’s direction of travel. Right: Street view looking downhill (southbound) just before intersection of Pete’s Mountain Road and SW Riverwood/Hoffman.)
Schermer was a lawyer and had an office in downtown West Linn about seven miles northeast of where he crashed. He was likely on one of his usual lunch rides on roads he knew very well.
I first heard about this when acquaintances of his contacted BikePortland looking for details about what happened. There were no news reports and law enforcement didn’t make any public statements about the crash. Then I saw a tribute to him on the Facebook page of the local Lawyer Ride. That tribute was written by Schermer’s friend and riding buddy Dan Rohlf.
Rohlf remembered David as an energetic adventurer who loved to challenge himself on the bike. “David died as he lived — going for it in the outdoors, whether on a bike, climbing a mountain, on cross-country skis, or hiking for miles,” Rohlf shared on Facebook. “He climbed the Tourmalet like Pantani a few years ago, and ripped passes in the Dolomites. But his idea of a perfect ride was a climb to Council Crest, a few laps on Fairmount and Humphrey/Hewett, then Terwilliger to the Multnomah Lucky Lab for pizza.”
“David was just a wonderful guy; he had a smile for everyone, was a fantastic husband, father, and grandfather, and was loved by his family and friends alike… our community has suffered a profound loss,” Rohlf added.
Schermer was an avid mountain climber and member of Portland Mountain Rescue. In a statement on their Facebook page today, PMR wrote, “Willing to hump a big load and quietly competent, David was the rescuer you always wanted on your team. Over his tenure with PMR, he logged almost 1000 hours of training and missions. More important, he was generous with kindness and a cheerful word. David, we always knew you had our backs, we just wish we could have been there to cover yours.”
He had also ridden the Ronde PDX ride several times. This legendary and unsanctioned ride tackles all the big West Hills climbs. This ride is “officially cancelled” but the word on the street is many people are likely to show up tomorrow (Saturday 5/11) to do it anyways (10:00 am from NW 31st and NW Industrial). If you ride it, keep Schermer in your thoughts. Rest in peace David.
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Riders concentrate one one of several roaring descents at the Coast Gravel Epic last Saturday. (Photos: Harry Apelbaum/Apelbaum Studios)
Before we jump off into another weekend of great riding, how about some inspiration from the last one?
Last weekend I had the great fortune to do the Oregon Coast Gravel Epic. This event was the kickoff of the Oregon Triple Crown, a series organized by Mudslinger Events (a family-run business with decades of experience) of three races/rides throughout our state that challenge riders who want fully-supported, challenging routes and aren’t afraid of bumpy, gravel-strewn backroads.
The Epic, along with its sibling events the Sasquatch Duro in Oakridge May 18th and the Oregon Gran Fondo in Cottage Grove June 1st, tap into the skyrocketing popularity of mass-start rides with big courses where at least some of the miles are on unpaved roads. In case of the Coast Epic and the Duro, half the miles are dirt. One of the things that drew me to this series were the locations themselves. I love an excuse to spend time in these classic, small Oregon adventure towns defined by their jaw-droppingly beautiful natural features.
At the convivial start in the parking lot of the Waldport Community Center, I got a chance to check out some of the bikes people chose for the day’s course: either 37 or 60 miles with ample amounts of climbing. As you can see below, there was a wide range of bikes and riders. That’s what I love about the gravel scene: It draws everything from serious roadies to Sunday ramblers.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)
I opted for the big “Abomination” route which ended up being about 56 miles with over 7,000 feet of elevation gain. What a route! Even though none of the roads were closed, I think I only saw 2-3 drivers all day. It felt like we had the entire Siuslaw National Forest to ourselves. I was happy to not have any distractions because the terrain was tough. Beyond what felt like climbs that never ended, there was a section of timber had been freshly harvested. It left behind soft dirt and fresh, sharp gravel. It was hard to stay upright.
What I’ll remember most were the descents and bucolic scenes riding along the Alsea River.
Unlike last year when I did this ride with my brother and took a more chill approach, this time around I wanted to see how fast I could go. I was on a brand new bike (more on that later), so I was still “moving in” so-to-speak and didn’t feel 100% right. I also had a tubeless tire blowout (total mystery why it happened, maybe too much air pressure?). Thankfully I had a spare tube and threw it in without much hassle. In the end, I did fine; but I know I could do much better. Can’t wait to try again next year!
The Klatch and I will be spending a lot of time together this summer. (Photo: Ayleen Crotty)
One of the perks of doing Triple Crown events is they are shot by a top-notch photographer. Harry Apelbaum of Apelbaum Studios does excellent work. I’ve shared just a selection of his images from the Epic in this post. See them all here.
If you’re curious about my new bike, you’ll be hearing more about it in the weeks and months to come. It’s a special, Oregon Triple Crown edition Co-Motion Klatch. Made in Eugene and outfitted with Rolf Prima Hyalite wheels (also made in Eugene!), this bike was designed with gravel racing in mind. We tried to make it a perfect blend of efficiency on the road and durability/fun off-road. We’re still in the early stages of our courtship; but so far, I feel like the relationship has serious potential.
Stay tuned for more coverage of gravel riding in Oregon. And thanks to Co-Motion, Rolf Prima Wheels, and Ride With GPS for helping me get out there.
Huge park-and-rides, like this one at the end of the Orange Line south of Milwaukie, convince a few hundred cars to pull off the freeway sooner. But homes and bikeways near rail would make car ownership optional. (Photo: TriMet)
Editor’s note: This piece by former BikePortland news editor Michael Andersen is cross-posted from Sightline Institute. If you’d like to get involved in shifting tens of millions of dollars from parking garages to other ideas like protected bike lanes, affordable housing or bus improvements, there’s an important 15-minute public comment period coming up Monday, 9:10 a.m. at Tigard City Hall.
The people planning the Portland area’s next light-rail line seem to be steering away from a scenario where taxpayers pour $100 million of precious public-transit funding into a series of giant parking garages.
But unless the public speaks up in the next month, it’s possible that a handful of elected officials will push to build the garages along the “Southwest Corridor” through Southwest Portland, Tigard and Tualatin anyway—despite a mountain of evidence that spending the money on bus service, infrastructure for walking and biking, and transit-oriented affordable housing would do far more to improve mobility, reduce auto dependence and cut pollution.
“If we want to maximize transit ridership, park-and-rides are far less effective than other options… The answer is to make transit an efficient and attractive option without requiring auto use in the first place.” — Madeline Kovacs from Sightline Institute, during a presentation to the project committee last week.
TriMet staffers seem to be looking to “update their approach” to park-and-rides based on a closer look at the factors that actually drive transit ridership, said Ramtin Rahmani, a volunteer on the community advisory committee for the Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project.
Rahmani (speaking only for himself) said last week that instead of pushing multi-level garages at several stations along the new rail line through Portland, Tigard, and Tualatin, TriMet’s staff members are making the case for surface lots, except at the end of the line near Bridgeport Mall. Their theory is that transit funding is better spent elsewhere and the surface lots would preserve the option of adding housing later.
This proposal isn’t perfect. TriMet has indeed redeveloped a few park-and-ride lots over the years, but it’s rarely removed parking spaces when doing so. That said, as I argued in November, surface lots are less bad than free parking garages. Here’s a slightly updated version of what my Sightline colleague Madeline Kovacs told the rail line’s community advisory committee when it met last week:
At $52,000 per stall, free park-and-ride garages are among the least effective ways taxpayers can spend money on public transit.
TriMet records show that 38 percent of MAX park-and-ride stalls sit empty on a typical weekday. But even if we generously assume a vacancy rate of just 20 percent for Southwest Corridor garages and a 45-year lifespan, then taxpayers are spending about $7 for every weekday a space will be used. The region’s taxpayers would be essentially buying more than the equivalent of a free transit pass for anyone who shows up at a garage, on one condition: that they show up in a car.
If we want to maximize transit ridership, park-and-rides are far less effective than other options. A 2016 King County Metro analysis found that capital investments to improve bus speed and reliability created more than three times as many riders per dollar as free park-and-rides. TriMet’s own analysis projected that even if several new garages are built for the Southwest Corridor, 85 percent of future trips will come from foot, bike or transfer traffic, not park-and-rides.
If we want to minimize congestion and pollution, the meaningful answer is not to convince 200, 300 or 500 cars—out of the 300,000 that drive to jobs in Portland each day—to pull off I-5 a few miles farther south. The answer is to make transit an efficient and attractive option without requiring auto use in the first place.
This can mean improvements to bus, walk and bike connections to rail. $100 million would be enough to install networks of low-stress protected bike lanes for miles in every direction around all 13 Southwest Corridor stops. It can also mean creating mixed-use, mixed-income developments within walking distance of rail stops—something that becomes much harder if you already dedicated the prime land near your rail stop to parking lots and garages. $100 million would be enough to create or preserve 600 more affordable homes along the corridor.
If we want to improve mobility for lower-income people, the solution is not to offer free parking to several hundred car-owning downtown workers in the hope that some of them might be poor. The solution is to spend the money on things we know disproportionately benefit low-income residents: better bus transit and affordable housing near transit. Both of these also boost overall transit use, creating a self-reinforcing cycle that helps improve the system for everyone.
The huge cost of new rail lines can sometimes make park-and-ride garages seem cheap by comparison. They are not. The cost of building something great, like a new public rail line used by tens of thousands of Oregonians, shouldn’t be allowed to conceal the boondoggle of free garages. Our region desperately needs to spend this money on things that will matter more.
Happily, TriMet staffers made some of the same points themselves to the advisory committee Thursday night. Take a look at this section of their slideshow. (Slide 41, for example: “Parking is expensive.” TrIMet puts it at $52,000 per garage space and $18,000 per surface lot space, plus $1 per space per day to operate.)
TriMet’s staffers also shared this image comparing greenhouse gas pollution for driving alone, for driving alone to a park-and-ride, and for taking bus or bike to a rail station:
But it’s not TriMet staffers who have de facto power over what ends up in the light-rail plan. The Southwest Corridor Steering Committee, which consists mostly of elected officials from suburban jurisdictions, will effectively decide how many transit dollars and how much transit-adjacent real estate to dedicate to park-and-rides, even within the City of Portland.
The agency could scrap its garage plans and solicit proposals from outside the agency for mixed-income housing developments. If a new building (probably with some shared parking on-site) can generate more transit riders than a parking lot alone, it could be allowed on the site instead.
TriMet’s steering committee will briefly take up this issue at a meeting next week, and will go into depth at its next meeting on June 10.
Free park-and-rides might seem great for transit use. But look closely. They’re not: They soak up money that would be better used making transit better and easier to access. Yes, garages are visible. But that visibility is just a monument to our failure to make transit more attractive than driving in any way but one: free parking.