How Fair Were Reports of Portland's Light Rail Shortcomings?

After a recent report questioned the value Portland's light rail investments, a local journalist and a TriMet representative provide countering metrics of success.
May 10, 2014, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Following an article in April by Yonah Freemark that questioned the light rail investments of some cities around the country, Joseph Rose elaborates on the findings for the city of Portland—one of the city's named by Freemark, especially on account of the city's declining transit share.

According to Rose's follow up, however, Portland's TriMet took umbrage with the findings. "Alan Lehto, TriMet’s director of planning and policy, said light rail’s success in helping a 'complete transit system' since the opening of the Blue Line in 1986 can be measured on several different fronts: improved total transit service, connections to a grid system of bus lines, and a land-use revival around stations," according to Rose.

Moreover, says Lehto, "The report is looking at central cities, as we have a regional (light-rail) system that will soon be expanding to 60 miles…[The report] misses many of the successes of the light rail, both in ridership and development." On the latter point, Lehto points to the $11.5 billion in development investments around Portland stations since the first MAX line was built.

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Published on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 in The Oregonian
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