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Lite Rail A Heavy Burden To Bear

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Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 9:05 am    Post subject: Lite Rail A Heavy Burden To Bear Reply with quote

Debunking Portland: The Public Transit Myth

How do Portland-area residents feel about local light-rail projects? They voted against raising taxes to build more light-rail in 1998. In 2002, they voted against a ballot measure increasing neighborhood densities as transit-oriented developments do. In 2004, they supported a property-rights measure that challenged the very foundations of Oregon's land-use planning system. Planners have ignored all these votes and are building light rail with tax-increment financing and other hidden tax increases.

Portlanders were especially upset when local papers revealed in 2004 that the region's planning had been manipulated by a "light-rail mafia," led by former Portland Mayor Neil Goldschmidt, that directed rail construction contracts and developer subsidies to an inside group of contractors and builders. Meanwhile, budgets for schools, fire, police, and public health have all been cut, as property taxes that would normally go to those services have been diverted to subsidies for rail transit and high-density developments.

Portland officials spend more than half the region's transportation funds on transit, but that doesn't mean Portlanders ride it. In fact, since Portland began building rail transit in the 1980s, transit's market share of commuting has actually declined from 9.8 percent to 7.6 percent, mainly because the high cost of rail in a few corridors forced the transit agency to reduce bus service in some parts of the region and prevented improvements in others.
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