Comment of the Week: McLoughlin Blvd and pulp fiction

Some of you have literary aspirations, I can tell. Maybe an unpublished novel buried in the back of a desk drawer?

What gives the ambition away is the purple prose that sneaks into BikePortland comments: “waste bin of bike dreams,” “slaughtered on our blood-soaked streets,” “I’ve been looking for years and I know it’s out there.”

Whew.

Is this Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles? No, it’s not. But maybe Portland needs its own poet of despair.

TrikeGuy might fit the bill. He wrote a colorful comment last week about a commute that didn’t go according to plan, and he manage to tie it into our post about McLoughlin Blvd, barely. Here are his first two paragraphs:

Wednesday I really wanted to take the 4:12am red line into Goose Hollow then ride the relatively flat 15 miles to Clackamas – couldn’t do that because they canceled it.

Of course, you don’t know they canceled until 4:12 comes and goes and you walk down to the only readerboard at the west end of the center platform (past a group of 5 guys smoking meth) and see the next train scheduled at 4:42.

I tried my hand at his prose and with some small edits arrived at this:

It was early. Too early. Even the 4:12 was sleeping it off ‘till 4:42. But I had somewhere to be, and I wasn’t going to let a late train or five meth-heads get in my way.

Clackamas will do that to you.

Go ahead, embrace your inner noir! Here’s the rest of TrikeGuy’s raw material:

Naturally I hopped on the trike, rode north and up out of Beaverton to Wilshire, up and over 217, up along 26, up through the Zoo to Fairview. A fast drop, then deal with the really awful roadway on lower Fairview and Park to get down to Goose Hollow (don’t even think about going up over Salmon past Lincoln – potholes big enough to lose my trike in).

Nothing like adding 8miles and 900ft of climbing to the morning commute on a day when I didn’t plan to.

Still better than the poor guy who only goes into the office 2 times a week who had to pay $$$ for an Uber to get to work in time (I chatted with him Thu morning).

Then, on the way home, I decided to ride the shortest distance to a MAX due to the smoke in the air (sucking that in is not good for you).

Waited 15minutes at CTC for a Green Line to show up just to hear that it was going to be stopping at Main Street – there was a MAX broken down between there and Gateway. Yep, great mainenance TriMet

Naturally I hopped off there and rode the worst section of 205 (crossing several busy streets where cyclists are very much discouraged) and through 2 small linear camps with debris all over the path.

This ignores the lack of safety officers on TriMet enforcing such basic courtesies as not playing loud music, not blocking the aisles with bikes/e-bikes and (of course) not smoking meth on the platforms.


Thank you TrikeGuy! (My apologies to you and Mr. Chandler.) You can read TrikeGuy’s comment under the original post. And keep your eye out, BikePortland commenters sometimes transcend the genre.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero is on the board of SWTrails PDX, and was the chair of her neighborhood association's transportation committee. A proud graduate of the PBOT/PSU transportation class, she got interested in local transportation issues because of service cuts to her bus, the 51. Lisa has lived in Portland for 23 years and can be reached at lisacaballero853@gmail.com.

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1 year ago

Spending time in other cities has really made me realize just how awful TriMet’s service is. And I’m not just talking cities with well-known commuter rail systems like Chicago or DC or the like. I’m talking comparable cities like Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake, Minneapolis. and such. Somehow all of these cities manage to put out a much more reliable and useful transit system than TriMet. The results Portland is getting are completely unacceptable.

dw
dw
1 year ago
Reply to   

I am currently in Seattle for two weeks for work and I don’t agree with you. I have experience many late buses, delays, and poor frequency on the light rail and streetcar systems. I think you’re experiencing “the grass is always greener” .

 
 
1 year ago
Reply to  dw

Fair enough. Maybe I’ve just been lucky there; I’ve certainly spent much less time in Seattle than in Portland.

Although perhaps I would have a different view than I do if I lived on Portland’s eastside, which is where the transit system in Portland actually seems to function. TriMet clearly does not care at all about anyone west of downtown judging by their constant cutting of bus service in the area.

ShadowsFolly
ShadowsFolly
1 year ago
Reply to   

As an east-sider, TriMet is no fun on this side of town either. Trains and buses just disappearing off the schedule, bus drivers nearly skipping my stop several times, trains that can’t be kept on a schedule, Transit Centers that are a joke, and on and on and on.

Nick
Nick
1 year ago
Reply to  dw

Having lived in both, they’re about the same. Portland has more manageable traffic in general which makes it feel better to me

Aaron
Aaron
1 year ago
Reply to   

It makes me sad that while everything you said is completely true, what Portland has is still leaps and bounds better than most other US cities. I moved to Portland from a similarly sized Midwest city in part because the public transit is so much better than where I came from, and compared to what I’m used to it’s amazing even though as you pointed out it’s still unacceptably bad. I’m just thrilled that its usable at all which is far more than I can say about my former city.

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to   

Portland’s transit is amazing compared to the part of Orange County, California that I moved from. Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa, … a lot fewer buses, that ran every half hour to every hour. Most just went around the area, no rail (also skirted the area, because Republicans hate transit) & no light rail. They’ve only improved a little since I left. Incrementally.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago

I have to share this with my boss now – he’s looking over at me from his office wondering why I’m laughing.

Thanks for Chandlerizing my stuff 🙂

(and, no, not Chandler Bing – that would be a *completely* different style!)

Bjorn
Bjorn
1 year ago

Interesting, I didn’t think they even allowed trikes on the MAX… Reliability and a lack of frequency are certainly problems Trimet should be trying harder to tackle.

JR
JR
1 year ago
Reply to  Bjorn

I think that’s the whole purpose of one of their current construction projects – Better Red It eliminates the only remaining sections of single-track on the MAX system and reduces conflict points at Gateway. Won’t solve all the problems, but it’s a step in the right direction I think. The bigger problem right now may be the shortage of operators they are facing.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 year ago
Reply to  JR

Given that most transit systems in the US are right now facing driver shortages, it would be interesting to see a BP article about the driverless Skytrain system in Vancouver BC and what issues they might have.

ShadowsFolly
ShadowsFolly
1 year ago
Reply to  JR

TriMet promised greatly that they’d improve the bus stop at Parkrose as a part of the questionably needed Better Red project. It was supposed to be made bigger and better. It went from 9 bus covers down to 4. Not sure where TriMet learned their math but now there’s less than 1/2 the space for those waiting for buses.

dw
dw
1 year ago
Reply to  Bjorn

I don’t see why they wouldn’t allow Trikes. So long as you aren’t blocking other passengers or taking up an unreasonable amount of space it’s all good.

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  dw

Because they are Trimet.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago
Reply to  Bjorn

It hangs, it rides 🙂

I had one MAX operator say something over the loudspeaker once – the TriMet guy who was on the train at the time saw me hang it and called her.

A bobbed rear fender means I can walk it in vertically on the back wheel and a hanger on the boom takes care of the rest – it actually takes up less room than a regular bike because I can stand right behind it and not have any part of me in the doorway.

Serenity
Serenity
1 year ago
Reply to  Bjorn

They don’t allow trikes, last I checked.… but it is selectivity enforced. *Most* operators & security won’t say anything/kick you off *most* of the time, but officials policy is still only standard bikes. Nothing oversized, and no bikes with more than two wheels. No Buckets, or panniers that stick out too far.

Luke
Luke
1 year ago

There definitely should be harsher penalties for MAX drivers who don’t keep to the schedule. When I was taking the Blue Line regularly to get to and from work, the speeds they’d go were annoyingly inconsistent. The schedule plans don’t regularly change, the stopping patterns don’t change, and so the speeds shouldn’t change. That’s how you avoid delays through the system, and how you avoid needing to excessively pad the schedule (which ultimately causes reduced services).

The MAX is not a bus; it shouldn’t be run or driven like one. It COULD be great; the bones are mostly there. It just needs to be better-run and used (though that last is more an issue of PDX’s bad land use around stations).

RipCityBassWorks
RipCityBassWorks
1 year ago
Reply to  Luke

The reliability issues, mostly, aren’t the fault of the drivers: it’s the fault of TriMet’s bad service pattern that has the Steel Bridge as a huge bottleneck and allows delays on one line to impact the entire system.

The short term and cheap solution is to terminate all Yellow Line trains at the Interstate/Rose Quarter station.

EJ transportation
EJ transportation
1 year ago
Reply to  Luke

Tbf nobody’s going to take the MAX if they don’t absolutely have to when it’s having unreliable and slow service on the trains. It doesn’t matter if they live in an apartment halfway across the street from a max station, or if they make the MAX attractive to use again by finally kicking the drug users off. If the MAX takes twice as long as driving on the parallel freeway, and randomly doesn’t show up, ppl will just get a car, no matter the costs to them or society

RipCityBassWorks
RipCityBassWorks
1 year ago

I’m a very frequent TriMet rider, and there is a big divide between what I read/hear about TriMet and my experience riding. I’ve never run into groups of people just smoking meth on the platforms for one. The service frequency (every 15 minutes) obviously isn’t good enough but I have noticed a drastic reliability improvement over the last year. So many buses and trains were being cancelled in 2021 and 2022 that I always had to show up super early and hope for the best. That hasn’t been necessary lately. TriMet service is mediocre at best, but it is far from unusable.

Trike Guy
Trike Guy
1 year ago

I can count on delays of 15-30 minutes at least once a week.

Yesterday I rode the upright (once every 2 weeks I bring a *lot* of clothes and stuff in and out) and the 4:42 Red Line missed connection to the green line (delay of 20minutes) in the morning and in the evening the Green to Blue line connection took nearly 15 minutes instead of 2 (usually if you get off the Green at Rose Quarter at 4:05 it’s about 2-3 minutes behind).

So, 2 already. I chose to ride the whole way this morning, but the story is *not* a one off. It’s something like it every week for a regular transit rider.

I’ve ridden TriMet since 1985 when I moved up here to go to school – the difference in service/reliability is huge.

Charley
Charley
1 year ago

That would be great! I gave up using the MAX to get from Milwaukie to downtown Portland. Maybe I should try again this fall.

smpz
smpz
1 year ago

When I was in LA, Metro had a regular “Metro Fail” blog piece that compiled several social media comments complaining about their service. It was entertaining and probably served them well as feeedback.