30 Years of Failed Rail is Too Much!

Light Rail is bad for Tigard.  We don't have to guess at what it will do to our community.  We don’t have to wonder who’s telling the truth.  We only have to look at the examples right in front of us to see the devastating impact it's had.  For thirty years we've been sold this magical story about how wonderful light rail is for us only to watch as every one of those promises has proven false. Every single time light rail comes to town we see crime spike near the tracks, we watch traffic only get worse and we are left with unexpected bills and tax obligations that never get paid off.  Every single time. And now they want Tigard to believe this time will be different than every single other example where it’s failed. With so many options for easing congestion easily available and relatively affordable, we are left wondering why this issue keeps coming up. Light Rail is a failed experiment that needs to stop. We need an honest conversation on how we can fix our traffic congestion.  Repeating the same mistakes over and over again is not leadership, it’s insanity. Light Rail is a massive waste of money and hurts our community.  Tigard needs to stand up and say NO more failed rail.

Crime Increases

When a new line goes in, crime goes up every time. We have countless testimonials and stories from: police who are left to fight the massive increases in crime; public officials who’ve had to fight for additional law enforcement to address the issue; Neighborhood associations that have seen their community and loved ones victimized; Local Business that saw an immediate increase in theft, vandalism or robbery many of which have moved out of the community; and Crime victims and their families forced to face unnecessary violence and loss of personal safety. Light rails track record on crime is horrendous, extensive and obvious for anyone honest enough to look at the facts. Despite the endless excuses and nonsensical explanations, Light Rail always comes with a significant increase in crime. It’s undebatable.

Traffic Gets Worse

We’ve been told a rosy little story for thirty years about how light rail improves traffic, but all we have to do is look to every single example in front of us to see how this has been proven false over and over…. And it makes sense why. To build light rail, we have to take away road space that currently carries far more people with cars and buses than a train that comes by every once in a while, could ever hope to match. Removing roads simply makes traffic worse. Also, when light rail runs through town it must cross current roads. This brings down the barriers and stops all traffic for long periods during peak commute times and creates additional and unnecessary back-ups. Lastly, to make ridership numbers and budgets work, TriMet actually reduces the number of buses to try to force commuters onto light rail. Simply put, they take away effective buses and replace it with nothing, hoping you are lucky enough to be near a track. When light rail comes in, traffic gets worse... every time.

Taxes Go Up

Tri-Met is simply being dishonest when they try to tell you that taxes won’t go up. This is a slight-of-hand trick and is extremely dishonest. They will try to tell you that this vote doesn’t raise your taxes but they conveniently leave out the inevitable future obligation that ALWAYS comes as soon as the plans start coming together. Even worse, most of us will seldom use light rail, but we all are left to pay added taxes that never seem to go away. Once again, we don’t have to guess what will happen, we don’t have to argue or debate this issue in any way. We only have to look to thirty years of history to see what happens. Every time light rail comes in, taxes go up… period.

 

Questions and Answers

 

 

1. Will construction of light rail line through Tigard relieve traffic congestion on 99w, I-5, or any other congested road?

Answer: No. It’s impossible for light rail to relieve traffic congestion because trains only run 4-6 times/hour. But even if light rail ran 15 times an hour, it still wouldn’t matter because most of us are going to places not served by light rail. The reason we use private vehicles most of the time is because they take us from where we are, to exactly where we want to go, on our own schedule. Rail transit is a 19th century approach to a 21st century problem.

2. Will the SW Corridor light rail project take away current road capacity?

Answer: Yes. TriMet anticipates taking vast amounts of current lane capacity on SW Barbur Boulevard, a section of that road that currently operates very well precisely because it has 2-3 lanes in each direction (depending on location). Thus, a primary purpose of the SW Corridor Project is to reduce road speeds and increase local congestion by taking away lane capacity for slow trains that won’t carry very many people. This is the opposite of what most people want.

3. Is light rail a catalyst for economic development?

Answer: No. Light rail does not attract development, it repels it. Light rail stations are noisy and dangerous, and local regulations require that development next to light rail stations be built at very high densities. From a construction standpoint, mixed-use, high density development is the single most expensive type of development on either a per-unit or per square foot basis. Virtually all high-density development that has been constructed near light rail in the past 30 years was subsidized by the government.

4. If we don’t build light rail, how else could we improve public transit in the SW Corridor?

Answer: There are many other options that would cost less than the $250 million/mile that light rail would cost. Improved bus service could be added for less than 1/100th the cost of rail. TriMet could easily buy nicer buses to attract new riders, and run new express bus routes with fewer stops. These improvements would not require expensive bus-only lanes or fancy stations. We could also open up the bus transit market to other service providers besides the TriMet monopoly. Private, non-subsidized companies such as Uber and Lyft have dramatically improved transit options all over the world, where they are allowed to compete. We should encourage such innovations in the local bus transit market.

5. A local Metro Councilor has claimed that light rail has the capacity equivalent to 5 freeway lanes. Is this true?

Answer: No. Councilor Craig Dirksen made this claim recently in a local newspaper opinion piece. The first thing for voters to understand is that light rail is not high-capacity transit. Light rail trains only have two train cars; they will never be able to use more than two cars at a time due to the short blocks in downtown Portland (200 feet long). A three-car or four-car rail configuration would block multiple intersections in downtown at all hours of the day.
Moreover, any new rail line to Tigard will only run four-six times per hour even at the busiest times, with average speeds of less than 20 MPH. Infrequent service coupled with low speeds means the trains cannot move very many people. The assertion that light rail can move as many people as a five-lane highway is simply a fantasy.

6. If light rail to Bridgeport is built through Tigard, how much will it cost Tigard residents and business owners?

Answer: That is unknown at this time, but it will be expensive and local property owners will bear the brunt of the expense. The federal government, if it approves financial support, will only pay for a maximum of  50% of construction costs. In the case of the Milwaukie light rail line, which opened a year ago, that meant that local governments plus the state of Oregon had to come up with $750 million – all of which could have paid for other important services.

If the Tigard-Tualatin light rail line is built, many property owners will be taxed even though most of them will never set foot on the train.

7. After 30 years of light rail construction, there must be some “success stories”. What light rail stations can we expect TriMet to emulate if a Tigard-Tualatin line is built?

Answer: There are no light rail success stories anywhere in the country. The results are always the same: noisy rail stations that most people don’t want to live near; high-density development projects that require public subsidies; deliberately-induced shortages of parking that degrades the quality of life for people living in nearby neighborhoods; forecasts of high ridership that turn out to be false; and a degradation of bus service which currently carries more than 65% of all TriMet riders. In some cases, such as Rockwood in Gresham, light rail brought with it so much crime that key retailers (Fred Meyer) closed up and moved away.

Light Rail is an “all-pain, no-gain” scenario for Tigard.