Archive for May 8th, 2010

May 8, 2010

Light Rail Snow Job Continues From C-Trans & The Columbian

by lewwaters

Once again, voters in Clark County are being presented another snow job pertaining to the popularity of extending Portland’s Max Line into Vancouver. We are told this by the Columbian’s article, C-Tran survey suggests voter support for light rail where we are informed that C-Trans spent some $20,000 to survey a whole 600 people somewhere within Clark County & the C-Trans “service area.”

We have roughly 433,000 residents in Clark County so that translates out to roughly a little over one tenth of one percent of the population. From those numbers we read, “Marc Boldt, the county commissioner who chairs C-Tran’s board of directors, said board members were surprised by the implicit support for light rail” along with, “We believe the survey and how it was handled.”

Surprising words from someone who has long claimed to be an opponent to “ineffective measures including light rail and high occupancy vehicle lanes.”

A look over the actual survey results is very revealing, though.

While we are told calls were made to residents within Vancouver, Battle Ground, Camas, La Center, Ridgefield, Washougal, and Yacolt, C-Trans “service area,” were are not told the number of respondents from each area, making it more difficult to see just what area those 600 live in.

The Columbian tells us that, “61 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat supported the transit agency’s 20-year development plan.”

In looking at page 14 of the survey results, we see the question asked is so lengthy those replying might not even hear where it includes light rail from Portland. One commenter on the Columbian’s article, who claims to be “someone who has taken graduate level statistics and marketing classes focusing on surveys as part of my MBA program,” also claims to be appalled by the question because, “The question asks multiple questions, light rail approval is not segregated, but rather is lumped in with multiple other options,” and “In no way does this question or the responses show support for light rail. Respondents may be showing their support for increased bus service or a new rapid bus transit service, not light rail.”

The actual question asks, “Moving on, if there were a proposal to fund expanded C-TRAN services to preserve current service and increase the frequency of bus service on major travel corridors, add new routes, build a new bus rapid transit line on Fourth Plain between the Vancouver mall and downtown Vancouver, increase bus service to Portland, and build a light rail extension from downtown Vancouver to connect with Max Light rail, that could be funded by an increase in the sales tax of three tenths of one percent which is three pennies on a ten dollar purchase, in general, would you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose it?”

Respondents strongly supportive amounted to 29% with those somewhat supportive amounting to 32%. That’s their 61% they feel are now favorable to light rail.

Page 21 shows that 59% don’t even commute to Portland on a weekly basis while page 22 shows 68% choose to drive alone with only 5% saying the use a Bus/transit as a sole means of transportation.

Even more telling information is found on page 24 where we read that at most, only 16% use C-Trans at least one day a week and even less, just 9% utilize Portland’s Max Light Rail at least once a week with even less using it more often.

Page 25 shows results for actual Oregon commuters with only slightly higher results, just 15% claiming to use Max Light Rail at least once a week, and only half of that using it more often.

The final page shows a whopping 58% state they never use public transportation of any sort.

Yes, we really need to question Marc Boldt on, “We believe the survey and how it was handled.”

Of course, should they succeed in ramming Portland’s light rail down our throats, our sales and other taxes will have to be raised to help offset the expense and maintain the line while the money from fares will undoubtedly go to Portland to help bail out their bankrupt Tri-Met Service, leaving us once again financing Portland and receiving little in exchange, save for the small handful who might use Max Light Rail, provided it actually runs.

What does not receive coverage by those salivating to pay more to Portland’s coffers is that even in heavily congested Puget Sound, their mass transit system had 31.3 percent less riders than projected, which would mean more tax raises in order to keep the system running, much like all of those near empty C-Trans buses running around Hazel Dell daily.

Claims of light rail costing less that buses are blown away as we see from studies that even in areas of the country where such rail might actually work, it ends up costing more per boarding than does a bus.

For now, we wait to see what if any ballot measure is placed before us and if the entire county is entitled to vote or just the gerrymandered district Craig Pridemore pushed off on us.

Ultimately, we should be asking why even a dime is wasted on this survey or why it is even discussed. After all, our disappointing new Mayor, Tim Leavitt just said in his March State of the City Address, “So, let me be perfectly clear here: The Project Sponsors Council will not be revisiting the preferred alternative of a replacement bridge and light rail. These are decisions that have been made and will not be reconsidered.”

Screw us, huh?

And yet, the snow job continues.