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Monday, June 18, 2007

Re: Leaving Portland

posted by on June 18 at 16:13 PM

I agree with Dan that buses suck, but he’s apparently wrong when he argues that PDX has a more useful (user friendly?) transit systemóat least according to the numbers.

A census study on transportation just came out last week, looking at how many people use transit in the top 50 cities (working population wise) in the U.S.

Seattleówith its sucky busesóranked higher than PDX with its MAX and buses. Seattle was 8th (17 percent use public transit) and PDX was 10th (13.3% use public transit).

NYC was number 1 on the public transit score with 54.6% of the work force taking transit. 54.6%. Um. !!!!!

Here are all the numbers.

Tops in Biking to Work
1. Portland 3.5%
2. Minneapolis 2.4%
3. Seattle 2.3%
4. Tucson 2.2%
5. San Francisco 1.8%
6. Sacramento 1.8%
7. Washington, D.C. 1.7%
8. Oakland 1.5%
9. Honolulu 1.4%
10. Denver 1.4%

Tops in Working at Home
1. San Francisco 6.3%
2. Portland 5.3%
3. Seattle 5.1%
4. Austin 5.0%
5. Colorado Springs 4.9%
6. Atlanta 4.7%
7. Los Angeles 4.7%
8. Denver 4.7%
9. San Diego 4.6%
10. Washington, D.C. 4.4%

Tops in use of Public Transit
1. New York 54.6%
2. Washington, D.C. 37.7%
3. San Francisco 32.7%
4. Boston 31.7%
5. Philadelphia 25.9%
6. Chicago 25.3%
7. Baltimore 18.9%
8. Seattle 17.0%
9. Oakland 16.5%
10. Portland 13.3%

Tops in Walking to Work
1. Boston 12.5%
2. Washington, D.C. 10.0%
3. San Francisco 9.6%
4. New York 9.4%
5. Philadelphia 8.1%
6. Honolulu 6.9%
6. Seattle 6.9%
7. Minneapolis 5.8%
8. Chicago 5.5%
9. Baltimore 5.4%

Tops in Carpooling
1. Mesa, AZ 16.7%
2. Phoenix 16.2%
3. Sacramento 15.7%
4. Honolulu 15.6%
5. Fresno 15.1%
6. Dallas 14.6%
7. Tucson 14.3%
8. Houston 13.9%
9. Charlotte 13.6%
10 Fort Worth 13.5%

RSS icon Comments


Mr. Savage wrong about something?

Did a vortex to alternate universe just open up and swallow reality?

Good Gawd!!! Someone get Ira Glass on the horn!!! Weeze got some postin' to do...

Posted by ecce homo | June 18, 2007 4:19 PM

The number for seattle is up to 20% when you count only rush-hour.

Posted by Angry Andrew | June 18, 2007 4:26 PM

What is up with Honolulu?

Posted by sniggles | June 18, 2007 4:28 PM

Well, the Max only goes a couple of places. If you're a mile off the route, you're not going to take it. Our bus system, for all its many and well-documented flaws covers the ground fairly well. The biggest flaw of Metro is simply the geography and street layout of the city it's centered on.

In addition to the limited number of Max routes, Portland is less hemmed in by water, and thus spreads in more directions. Their traffic is also nowhere near as bad, so driving is a realistic option for almost all trips. Assuming you can stand the stoners going 12 miles an hour everywhere.

I love these charts, because they appear to incorporate realities that The Stranger likes to pretend don't exist -- they mention Phoenix and Charlotte and Houston, and not "Europe". But I'm curious to know how they defined some things -- that 2.4% biking number for Minneapolis, for instance -- presumably that's not in February. Is it an average over the whole year, so that in June it's more like 4.8%? Or is it a peak value from the pleasantest month? Or is it 2.4% of the people have EVER biked, even if it's only a single time?

Nationwide, "drive alone" is 77%. That's what you're up against. Getting that below two-thirds would be a heroic achievement, though that's not how people usually think of it. More than a quarter of even New Yorkers drove alone....

Posted by Fnarf | June 18, 2007 4:40 PM

Ya but Sound Transit is On Time and Under Budget

Posted by Goebbels for Transit | June 18, 2007 4:41 PM

You can't compare NYC or any other Eastern cities with Seattle in regards to mass transit because most of their cities have a 100 year jump on us.

The New York City subway was built in the late 1800s, as was Chicago's 'L'.

Posted by elswinger | June 18, 2007 4:45 PM

Also, NYC has 8 million people living in an area that's only like 3-4 square miles, if that. There's no way that many people could commute by car in that tiny space, nor is it really practical given how relatively compact the metropolis is.

Posted by Gomez | June 18, 2007 4:48 PM

maybe knowing that you won't have to sit with clueless Republican fuckwits like Feit and Savage increases Metro's popularity.

Posted by dollartwenty-five | June 18, 2007 4:49 PM

@7--Gomez, dude, Manhattan is 33 square miles of land and has only 1.5 million people. Extremely dense, no doubt, but let's not get carried away with the numbers.

("Also, NYC has 8 million people living in an area that's only like 3-4 square miles, if that")

Posted by whoa, gomez | June 18, 2007 5:02 PM

I'm sorry but you Stranger-ites need to GIVE UP the "buses suck" bus hating!! Guess what? Some of us don't have a choice about how we get to-and-fro so we learn to deal. I lived in Chicago for years so I know how fabulous true rapid transit can be. But I also had far more fetid, foul, and delayed trips there than on the buses in Seattle. I'll take a slow, bumpy ride on the 43 over a naked man masturbating on the Blue Line anyday.

Posted by mary-kate | June 18, 2007 5:13 PM

Hey Meadow look at these dumbass Sloggers in Seattle -- they think NYC has 3 square miles! Guess they don't know how to google or use Wikipedia (NYC has "8.2 million residents within an area of 322 square miles (830 km≤)".
#7's penalty for being off by a factor of ONE HUNDRED: shut up for 24 hours.
Show some Respect, dude!

Posted by Anthony Jr. /NJ | June 18, 2007 5:18 PM

Hey #6: they have a jump on Seattle because they built a full rapid transit system. Seattle isn't even planning to do that -- it only is planning 3 lines.
By 2027 when I may be whacked!
In the King poll only 15% of the people said they would use light rail at least once a week! Pitiful -- a "system" that only reaches 15% of the region! So 85% of the people can't use it and if you can use it, you can't use it to go to 85% of the destinations.
Look at this list and think real hard: what on earth could account for the high transit usage in the top 7 cities:
1. New York 54.6%
2. Washington, D.C. 37.7%
3. San Francisco 32.7%
4. Boston 31.7%
5. Philadelphia 25.9%
6. Chicago 25.3%
7. Baltimore 18.9%
8. Seattle 17.0%

honking big TRAIN systems that go everywhere. Here's why: till you build it, you can't ride it. And by the way the DC system was started when the DC metro population was SMALLER than the Seattle metro population is today.
Building 3 lines by 2027 covering just 15% of the region at best -- pitiful.

Posted by Meadow | June 18, 2007 5:26 PM

I'm guessing those "work from home" numbers correspond pretty closely with their respective region's software or other "new industry" (that term's in quotes even though I probably made it up) employers.

Interesting figures none the less. And really, Hawaii really needs to get themselves some bike lanes built or something, they SHOULD be dominating in that department.

Posted by Dougsf | June 18, 2007 5:34 PM

I thought we used to be #1 and #2 for biking to work and walking to work ... why did we slip?

Or was that for commute trips only?

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 18, 2007 5:47 PM

2 million people per square mile! Wow that's quite a lot Mr. Gomez :p

Posted by Tiffany | June 18, 2007 5:50 PM

I dunno, Honolulu traffic is pretty crazy -- people drive very slow (slower than Portland even), but extremely inattentively. Riding a bike there might be more dangerous than it looks.

Also, Honolulu is in a basin, but all the suburban growth is up and over the top of a mountain, where it is definitely impossible to ride a bike -- even if it's legal, which I doubt, you'd get killed on your first day.

And for some reason they air-condition all the city buses down to about 45 degrees, which is maybe keeping some people off them.

Posted by Fnarf | June 18, 2007 6:02 PM

There's no big honking train system in SF. There's bart (one line) and SFMuni which is a bunch of street cars that only serve the southern and western parts of the city, with the exception of the brand-new T-Line which servers the South Eastern part of the city.

The second most popular Muni line is the 38 Geary which is a bus. IF st2 passes and get's built, Seattle will be about 67% of where SF is in terms of transit.

Posted by Angry Andrew | June 18, 2007 6:04 PM

I guess I shouldn't be surprised The Lou doesn't place on any of these lists. It still bums me out though...

Posted by Mike in MO | June 18, 2007 6:47 PM

As for San Francisco, angryman, I guess maybe you're right. It doesn't have a honkin big rail system -- it just has a really big rail system. And it has it now.
SF has lines going out from downtown in seven directions. Today.
Here, in Seattle, ST is taking twenty years to build out one line to UW from SeaTac (yrs. from voter approval) and ST2 only means we get only 3 lines (north, south, east) by 2027. By 2027 SF will have even more than 7, of course -- they aren't sitting still.
ST2 reaches 15% of the population -- twenty years from now. That sucks. We will drown from global warming by then. OR some of us will just be dead.

Posted by Meadow | June 18, 2007 6:56 PM
SF has lines going out from downtown in seven directions.
But they're street cars. Basically buses on rails, they don't have their own right-of-way, they get stuck in traffic, etc.
Posted by Angry Andrew | June 18, 2007 7:03 PM

This can mean but one thing - we need more sales taxes for transit! Vote for sales taxes, big sales taxes, in November. We must pay for our fathers' sins, and sales taxes are the way to do it.

Posted by Cheddar, Melted | June 18, 2007 7:28 PM

Angry Andrew,
1. check out the link, the seven lines includes BART and Cal train etc.
2. Here in Seattle the light rail will be a street car for about 4 miles down MLK -- running in the street, unlike real rapid transit systems.
You can't blast honkin' big trains through one after the other, when they run on the street. Little kids get squished !
3. Stop quibbling over teensy eensy points. All those cities on that list in general have honkin big rapid rail systems like I tolja, and here the light rail line will only be 1 line by 2016 (twenty years after voter approval) and it will only be 3 lines by 2027 (30 years after first voter approval) and by the time it is really built (likely 40 years after approval -- St1 is already years late) I will be 50 years old and half the readers of this blog will be dead from old age! And Seattle will have 2 million more people in the area, and will be further behind than it is today.
Like I tolja. It's not a system. Capiche?

Posted by Meadow S. | June 18, 2007 8:22 PM

What I note about these lists is that with the exception of SF all of the highest ranking transit/walking cities are east coast city's that were established on a compact, tight knit grid system with narrow streets and denser urban neighborhoods, before the advent of the auto and it's sprawling highway system.

SF transportation planners have the benefit of a city that is small and dense and much more like an east coast older city than other places in the west.

From Wikipedia (thank you): San Francisco is the second most densely populated major city in the United States. 47 sq/mi with a population size of 744,041 for a density ratio of 15,834 people per sq mi (6,111/km≤).

Plain & simple, it's just easier to serve higher densities on compact street grids with better transit service. Flatter topography is also helpful.

Posted by Urban Planner | June 18, 2007 8:24 PM

Urban - you've got it - we need density and that won't result from ST2

Posted by whatever | June 18, 2007 8:37 PM

I lived in SF for 8 years, so I know about transit there. I don't want to argue little points but these aren't little.
Caltrain is like sounder, it is big-ass commuter train running on freight tracks. It comes a few times an hour. Counting the N or the F is like counting the SLU car or the waterfront line as rail lines, in which case, we'll have at least 3 more street car lines (SLU, First Hill, and Waterfront) by the date you mentioned. Go to SF and stand on the corner of Irving and 9th st and then stand on MLK and Rainer and compare the two. One is real rail, the other is a street car.

Posted by Angry Andrew | June 18, 2007 8:39 PM

Meadow, I am under the impression that the light rail line in Seattle (central spine) will open next year except for the UW station b/c they did not think they had the cash to build it but now they do. ST2, if passed this year, will be built much sooner than 2027.

In addition Seattle is starting to implement a trolley system which is compatible w/ light rail (SLU, modernizing the waterfront route and first hill / i.d route). Plus we do have one of the best regarded bus systems in the nation, we have significantly invested in pedestrain and bike infrastructure with loads more on the way. And don't forget about ST's regional express buses. Also ST is increasing the number of Sounder daily sounder rail (heavy rail) trips.

I think, if anything, we need to hurry up and pass the next round of funding for light rail and regional transit and then do it again and again and again until we have a more thorough system. With our bus system as the workhorse we can keep adding light rail, heavy rail, local fixed trolley lines, water taxi runs, more investments in ped and bike infrastructure and hopefully a Gondola (pdx has one) up Marion or Columbia to the top of the hill b/c that walk is a frickin killer, especially in heals.

If we actually want people who live in West Seattle and Ballard to believe that we can live without the capacity on the viaduct and do some 'crazy surface transit option', then passage of ST2 is just a small faith builder.

Posted by Transit Fan | June 18, 2007 8:49 PM
What I note about these lists is that with the exception of SF all of the highest ranking transit/walking cities are east coast city's that were established on a compact, tight knit grid system with narrow streets and denser urban neighborhoods, before the advent of the auto and it's sprawling highway system.
Seattle has narrower streets than SF, and was also built out before the auto. Transit and Transportation cause density, not the other way around. When they built subways in New York, half the island was still fields, and Queens and Brooklyn were still farms. Why do you think they were able to cram all those people in there?

ST2 also includes studies for new train lines in the city that Grant Cogswell types could take to the voters and build more lines within the city with realistic cost analysis and ridership numbers.

It sucks that seattle's doing it so late, and it sucks that the only way available to tax people is the sales tax, but late is a whole lot better than never.

Posted by Angry Andrew | June 18, 2007 8:51 PM

Angry A #27 - 'but late is a whole lot better then never".

I could not agree more!!! And your points about transit oriented development & increased density are well taken. Thanks.

Posted by Urban Planner | June 18, 2007 9:00 PM

27. It's not that simple, Andrew. Seattle also has more outlying land mass than SF and NYC, as do most cities. Even Chicago, with it's tight urban layout in its interior, is surrounded by a vast array of suburban sprawl.

Posted by Gomez | June 18, 2007 10:38 PM

Gomez #29 . One idea is that we could agree to stop servicing sprawl with increased transit serive and instead spend all that suburban road and transit money on housing that will help subsidize families to be able to live in Seattle and other regional Urban Centers connected to the job centers by High Capacity Transit.

Suburban transportation & transit money could be redirected and spent on helping subsidize housing that will accomadate (for instance) families with kids and other suburbanite populations.

For example, we could spend that money to influence the market to get proper family sized units built with amenties families want and need. Right now the market is not providing that type of housing at a rate that middle class people can afford and as a result people are 'driving until they qualify' (or until they can afford the rent).

The idea is really to connect investments in housing affordability to transposrtation investment b/c it's really a matter of better streamlining and more efficiently using scarce resources for needed infrastructure.

I guess we just need to start viewing affordbale housing as the opposite side of the same coin as transportation for both use of precious public resources and as a legitimate choice for the end users. Enough consumers will say, Yes I would live closer to work if I could afford decent housing with the amenities my family desires/needs to make it work.

Posted by Urban Planner | June 18, 2007 11:42 PM

All arguing about the virtues, failures, and geography of various cities' mass transit aside, is anybody else a little fascinated by the carpool numbers? Do you think it's the hot climate in so many of these places that drives it?

Posted by MacJ | June 18, 2007 11:51 PM

I think one of the major differences between Seattle and other cities (one which San Francisco, however, shares) is that Seattle is only a portion of the dense growth in the region. In addition to Seattle proper, there is Tacoma to the South (comparable to either Oakland or San Jose, depending on how you look at it), Bellevue to the East (same as Tacoma), and Everett to the South (...San Rafael? no real comparison in SF to the North).

Although Seattle is the major population center and is by far the most developed and dense, there are three other (albeit less) major population centers, many of which feed into Seattle and vice versa through workers and housing. The problem that Sound Transit has to face was one of how to link not just Seattle, but all four population centers in order to lessen the commute and strengthen public transportation in all of them. BART seems to me to do awfully the same thing with their Oakland to SF routes.

The Monorail was intended to be the Seattle proper solution: a green line to connect Seattleites to different areas, but we all know how that turned out. If we only had one population center in Seattle, then it would be much easier to do transit, instead of having 600k of 3mil people inside city limits.

Posted by Cook | June 19, 2007 12:34 AM

" the light rail line in Seattle (central spine) will open next year except for the UW station b/c they did not think they had the cash to build it but now they do."

Wrong. The voters need to renew the taxes (in the November vote).

"Seattle is starting to implement a trolley system which is compatible w/ light rail (SLU, modernizing the waterfront route and first hill / i.d route)."

The SLU is one thing. The ST2 "trolley" proposal will be cut right after the vote (just like the First Hill Station was dropped after the 1996 vote).

Posted by fact checker | June 19, 2007 6:47 AM

Jeezy pie-oh-my, what silly excuses SEattleites make for not having a real system. All about it not being their own fault, it seems. We see the same thing in our loan customers. Boo-hoh, the SEattleites say, we are the only city with tough geography. Boo hoo, the latest excuse goes, we actually have only 600K people inside the city and 3m people outside.
Get a clue. Youu're not so special, lots of cities around the world (DC for one) have that pattern. The reason you don't have a real system is you haven't built it -- and you aren't planning to do so in the next twenty years either. ST1 +ST2 = just 3 lines in thirty years from starting. Or, assuming 25% delays, forty years. That would make it 2037. 3 little lines by 2037. Ha-ha, in that time we will send you another 2.5 million transplants (we will even send J. Nicastro back there) and you will be further behind. Just admit it: you're rapid transit weenies. Just 3 lines by 2027 or more likely 2037. Pitiful. Arrivederci,

Posted by Meadow S. | June 19, 2007 8:10 AM

@28, Gomez, do you look anything up? NY metropolitan area has *more* land mass than Seattle. First your botch @7, now this? Jesus. You're on the internet when you're writing this shit. It takes like 2 seconds to look up.

Posted by wtf, gomez | June 19, 2007 9:22 AM

Some sloggers are just plain loony. Fire Charles? He is one of the most original writers on that rag. And a fine rag tis.

Hell, I say, Charles for school board!!

Posted by SeMe | June 19, 2007 9:27 AM

Oops. I need coffee. Sorry guys wrong thread.

Posted by SeMe | June 19, 2007 9:29 AM

# 33 (Factchecker) - Okay, I did some of my own fact checking and here is what I discovered.

"...The new light rail line will connect Westlake Station in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel to a new station at Sea-Tac Airport, with stops in downtown, SODO, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, and Tukwila. Passenger service will begin in 2009."

So the southern connection of what is funded in ST1 for seattle light rail will be up and running in a year and 1/2. It looks like the northern portion of light rail that has already been funded bt ST1 will not be complete until 2016 (from downtown to the university including cap hill, roosevelt, etc).

Projects outlined in ST2 will need a new vote of the people. In terms of light rail for Seattle that is where the East Link comes into play. Of course ST2 funds loads of other regional transit projects (not just light rail). You can go on their site and check out the big map o projects that includes investments in 50 miles of light rail extensions plus commuter rail, express bus, steetcar/trolley links, station enhancements, direct access, HOV, BRT, etc.

Posted by Transit fan | June 19, 2007 10:12 AM

The feds green-lighted U-LINK. The original cost estimate in 2001 (1995 dollars) was $3.4 BLN. With inflation, the revised number is $7.2 BLN - well within the Agency's reach.

Posted by the REAL fact checker | June 19, 2007 11:49 AM

#39: Transit costs money!

Steel costs money,
Land costs money,
Payoff's to small little NIMBY suburban neighborhoods costs money,
Digging underground costs money,
Paying off (aka mitigation) the businesses that are impacted during construction costs money,
Building transit across water costs money,
Building the new sidewalks and bikepaths to get people to stations costs money,

and so it goes

Posted by Spender | June 19, 2007 12:29 PM

Hey, Big Spender....

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