Thank You Commissioner Mielke

by lewwaters

How nice to see at last night’s C-Tran Board of Fools Meeting, Commissioner Tom Mielke continued his long standing advocacy for citizens of Clark County.

Unfortunately, it appears that Bill Ganley, Jack Burkman, Tim ‘the Liar’ Leavitt, Ron Onslow, Anne McEnerny Ogle and Ed Barnes turned their backs on the citizens and approved a Bus Rapid Transit line to run down Fourth Plain Boulevard.

Especially disappointing is Ms. McEnerny Ogle who ran for city council on a policy of listening to voters wishes before voting on transportation projects. She joined in with the other five in voting to deny citizens another vote on whether or not we want BRT, even though past votes have strongly indicated we do not.

Commissioner Mielke’s words above indicate he is one of the few that places citizens above special interests in Clark County.

In the nearly two hours of public comments, the only commenters speaking against the BRT and also running for office was 18th Legislative District Representative Liz Pike and candidate for the 49th Legislative District pos. 2 seat, Carolyn Crain, both of whom should be commended for excellent, well thought and expressed comments.

Funding for this latest boondoggle seems to initially come the the 2011 sales tax increase C-Tran received, based in large part on the following claims;

Sorry citizens of Battle Ground, La Center, Yacolt and Ridgefield, your representatives sold you out and now you get to pay for a project that will only run in Vancouver.

Don’t be surprised in the years ahead to see less bus service out your way, even though you will be paying more.

5 Comments to “Thank You Commissioner Mielke”

  1. sent a letter to the board (I couldn’t attend the meeting) as follows. I did receive acknowledgement that my letter was included in the information packet that each board member has.

    To the Board of Directors
    C-TRAN
    ℅ Clerk of the Board (debbiej@c-tran.org)

    The July 8 C-TRAN agenda includes two “Action Items” where plans to further develop plans for a Bus Rapid Transit line along Fourth Plain. These items allocate taxpayer funds held by C-TRAN to be expended to obtain Federal funding to further the project and to finalize a contract for improvements to “the South Lot design” that is associated with the BRT plans.

    Clark County does not need a BRT and the voters have twice rejected plans for BRT funding. The C-TRAN board majority is apparently ignoring the intelligence of the local voters on this matter.

    The general distribution and overall low density of population in Clark County does not allow efficient use of mass transit facilities, except in fairly limited areas. BRT over-invests in facilities that will not be utilized at their highest potential, resulting in a significant waste of taxpayer funds.

    While planning for future population growth may be an excuse for such expenditures, it is being done without considering the potential for technological change, where “self-driving automobiles” may also become common during the extended planning window. These user-financed vehicles, when used in sufficient numbers, can easily double the carrying capacity of our local roads and highways — significantly reducing the need for alternatives such as mass transit.

    I urge the Board to reject these two Action Items.

    I note that the C-TRAN board has repeatedly ignored the wishes of the local voters (e.g. The Tri-Met contract) and is continually pushing for expensive but unneeded capital improvements. In my opinion, the C-TRAN organization needs to be restructured so that the board is more responsive to the will of the voters and the actual needs of transit users.

    Very Truly Yours,

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  2. The majority of citizens present were in opposition. The businesses for the most part were against it. The board did what they do and it was unlawful!

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  3. It was pretty obvious that it was a foregone conclusion. The meeting was little more than another dog and pony show, like Mielke said, ignore the people and just keep pushing ahead

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  4. Some info I sent to the board, no confirmation that they got it, this version edited
    NO to unnecessary BRT and light rail, YES to honor the votes against BRT and light rail
    In 2011, CTRAN passed a public vote stating in the ballot measure fact sheet,
    “This measure is asking voters for the .2% sales tax increase on Nov. 8,2011 to fund bus and CVAN service only. The CTRAN Board of Directors have stated their intent to ask voters in August or November 2012 to fund High Capacity Transit Projects”
    In 2012, CTRAN held a vote on high capacity Bus Rapid Transit(BRT) and Light Rail, which every Clark County city rejected. The ballot measure did not pass in spite of busloads of taxpayer funds used to distribute info in support of it.
    In 2013, voters again rejected BRT and light rail in Clark Countywide advisory votes by strong majorities.
    In complete disregard of the votes, CTRAN statements, and policies, the CTRAN board majority voted for contracts for both light rail, and BRT in 2013. (CTRAN Board members Connie Jo Freeman-Washougal, Bill Ganley-Battleground, and County Commissioners Madore and Mielke, did not vote for the contracts of 2012.) It’s disappointing that Ganley voted against the citizens of BattleGround and Clark County this July 8, 2014
    The CTRAN Board should revoke the light rail contract, and not contract for BRT this July. BRT 60’ bendable buses cost over $1 Million each for little benefit. BRT does not require articulated busses either. The plan to run BRT busses more often during peak times can be performed by the existing fleet, if higher demand materializes. According to CTRAN data, standard 40’busses are rarely at capacity. CTRAN should not unnecessarily divert $Millions to voter-rejected light rail and BRT while service in the rest of the county suffers and remains unimproved.

    Are Bigger 60’ Bendable Buses Better?

    In recent years, an elderly pedestrian was killed by a 40′ bus in downtown Vancouver, and a boy on a bicycle was killed by a bus in Uptown Vancouver. The 60′ bus seems a poor fit for the foot and bike traffic in downtown Vancouver, especially if they are not very full.

    In 2011, C-Tran began evaluating transit alternatives for the 4th Plain Corridor from the Vancouver Mall via 4th Plain to downtown. A new route that combines the 4th Plain routes #4 and the express #44 is proposed. The current #4 and #44 buses take different routes to downtown, then go on to Jantzen Beach and the Delta Park MAX light rail station in Portland.
    Bus Rapid Transit(BRT) – BRT can include bigger 60’ bendable buses, bigger bus stops with ticket machines (and fewer stops), built up sidewalks, island bus stops, and priority signals. Federal funding guidelines require running buses every 10 minutes during peak hours, and every 15 minutes in off-peak hours.
    Estimated cost= about $55 Million.
    Parsons Brinckerhoff is the lead outside consultant for the project and explained that the bulk of the study time and funds were spent on the BRT option. Parsons Brinkerhoff has made $MILLIONS off of CTRAN taxpayers so far, and just got the approval of another $6.7 MILLION for voter -rejected BRT. Chuck Green was hired as C-Tran’s BRT Project Manager in 2011, and previously worked as a transportation planner for Parsons Brinckerhoff for 13 years in Portland.

    Public records detailing ridership on the Rt 4 and 44 were withheld from the public for about 2 months during a review period. The records do not show high demand, or a need for even larger busses.

    Comparison of Eugene’s BRT vs current C-Tran buses:
    EmX BRT in Eugene http://www.ltd.org
    * 60’ articulated bus=. $ 960,000
    Vancouver over $1 MILLION each
    * Capacity- 44 seats, 100 with standing
    * Wheelchairs /bus- 2 or 3
    *Level Boarding via raised sidewalks
    Ramps for mobility devices, carts etc
    *Bikes/bus- 3 inside bus
    *Larger, covered bus stops
    Island bus stops in middle the road
    *Ticket machines at each bus stop, honor system May be asked to show ticket.
    Exact change or card payment.
    Machines subject to breakdown & vandalism
    *Enter or exit thru front or back door,
    If ramp is needed, back door used

    Current 40’ C-Tran buses
    *40’ standard diesel bus=$395,000
    *40’ Hybrid low-floor bus= $617,000 each
    * Capacity- 39-47 seats, 50-65 with standing
    * Wheelchairs /bus- 2
    *Low boarding via bus kneeling to curb
    Ramps on hybrids or lifts on standard bus
    for mobility devices, carts, or a boost
    *Bikes- 2 on outside rack
    *Covered & uncovered bus stops
    Curbside, some pullouts for bus stops
    *Ticket sales w/ cash or pass on the bus
    in order to board
    (About 20% of fares purchased on bus, mainly passes are used)
    Federal grants possible for onboard fare boxes
    *Front door to enter (and exit if ramp or lift)
    Back door to exit

    According to C-Tran studies, it takes about 23 minutes to go to downtown Vancouver 7th and Broadway from the Vancouver Mall. BRT is supposed to cut minutes off of travel time. For example, buying tickets from machines in advance could save time. However, in Vancouver, about 80% of riders use discounted passes provided by an employer, school or social services and already board quickly. The few who pay cash are usually prepared, albeit a few waste seconds digging for change deep in a backpack. A no-cost time saver would be for able riders to follow the directions to exit out the back door instead of exiting out the front door and blocking the entrance for riders waiting to board. The hop-on/hop off style of BRT (likeTRIMET MAX) has resulted in major fare evasion in some areas, saving seconds perhaps, losing $ per fare dodger.

    The new C-Tran hybrid 40’ buses used today have low floors and kneel quickly to the curb, then a ramp is extended for mobility devices, carts, or disabilities if needed. This is comparable to the level boarding and ramp used by the larger bendable buses and far more flexible. Kneeling busses can lower to any curb, and no special sidewalk buildups are needed.

    Bike loading on C-Tran outside bus racks with 2 spaces is fast, around 20 seconds. CTRAN exaggerations that bike loading can take nearly 5 minutes per bike aren’t accurate according to observations of bike loading and their own website, . http://www.c-tran.com/how-to-ride/learning-center/bikes-on-c-tran King County uses 3-bike racks, an affordable way to add capacity. Inside bike storage on proposed 60’ bendable buses is very costly.

    There is no need to rush Bus Rapid Transit ahead of rider demand. Rosy predictions for ridership in 2035 are not realistic. Another rosy prediction of 30% jump in ridership due to BRT in the first year seems unrealistic. It appears taxpayers are being taken for a $55 Million ride on bigger, bendable buses that are not often full and take about the same time per trip as today, give or take a minute.

    • 4 Fourth Plain provides service from the Vancouver Mall Transit Center to downtown Vancouver, Jantzen Beach and Delta Park MAX, approximately every 15 minutes, 7 days a week, 5 AM to midnight.
    • 44 Fourth Plain Limited provides Limited Express service from Ward Road to the Vancouver Mall Transit Center, downtown Vancouver, and Delta Park MAX.
    Service is provided Monday-Friday during peak commute times, 5:20 AM to 9:30 AM. Then again starting 2:35 PM-7:20 PM about every 30 minutes.
    No other route in Clark County has such frequent service, and added service in peak hours! Diverting even more $$ to this route in Vancouver means the funds are not available to make improvements in areas with little or no service. It would be better to distribute the services throughout the county paying for them.

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  5. Margaret, thank you for the very articulate comparison of the proposed and current situations. The BRT, for Clark County is another big budget boondoggle that will funnel funds to big public project contractors but will provide little advantage for either bus riders or taxpayers.

    The C-TRAN board needs to be made more responsive to taxpayers — perhaps a proposal to make C-Tran board positions directly elected from 5 or 7 districts in Clark County to give the taxpayers a more direct role in holding the board responsible. The current system apparently has some board members appointed by the cities (or are ‘automatic’ members of various elected boards). WIth this situation, voters my be electing people based on qualifications that have nothing to do with transportation issues (e.g. other local (city) policies are of greater importance during an election campaign) so members of the board have not had their ideas about transportation policies aired to the voting public before they become board members.

    How can this be changed? Is it possible to take a petition to the voters? Can the County Commissioners do anything?

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