Portland’s transit agency, TriMet, spent something like $166 million on its commuter-rail line which at one time was supposed to cost $104 million. The line is now carrying fewer than 600 round trips per day. It isn’t really surprising since the line goes from nowhere to nowhere.
The agency offers free health insurance, costing as much as $1,900 per person per month, to all its employees, retirees, and their dependents. This turns out to be the best transit agency benefits package in the nation. Aside from being reminiscent of the benefits programs that sank General Motors, it is so outrageous that the president of TriMet’s board actually resigned because he felt it was so unfair to taxpayers.
Meanwhile, the region’s light-rail and streetcar system is so “successful” that planners are contemplating expanding it on more than a dozen routes (4.5MB pdf). The word “successful” is in quotes because the number of people who commute by transit actually declined between 2000 and 2007.
But there is good news. The few people who actually ride TriMet can download an app for their iPhone to find the nearest bus stop.