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Light rail costs too much, does too little

TriMet Crime Coverup

Jan 21


Light-rail associated crime has been a big issue in Portland, so you would think the media would be all over the story when a woman was assaulted at a light-rail station in Portland last Christmas Eve. Instead — nothing.

Normally, says the Gresham Outlook, the police inform the media about such crimes. But in this case, the police were silent. Why? Because the woman reported the crime to the TriMet transit police. Apparently, TriMet was not interested in more bad publicity for its fabled rail system.

Meanwhile, the city of Milwaukie says it wants TriMet to add 160 new officers to its police force if TriMet builds its proposed $1.25 (or more) billion line into that Portland suburb. As of a couple of months ago, TriMet had only 28 officers, so 160 more would be a 470 percent increase.

Light rail costs vast sums of money to build. It costs more to operate than buses. The ridership growth in cities with light rail is no better (and, by some measures, worse) than cities with no rail. Light-rail passengers suffer many times more assaults, robberies, and rapes than bus passengers. Tell me again, why should cities build light rail?

Update: John Charles and Sreya Sarkar of the Cascade Policy Institute offer a “market-based solution to the MAX security crisis.” Their solution? De-monopolize transit and allow private jitneys. Jitneys would be faster, safer, and far less expensive to taxpayers than light rail.

Second update: Those who are fascinated by Portland’s light-rail crime wave can keep track at ORTEM’s web page.


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Reprinted from The Antiplanner