Debunking Portland

Despite the tax to support it having been repealed by Albuquerque’s City Council, the Mayor’s trolley plans refuse to die and it is widely expected that he will bring the issue up in the not-too-distant future.
Of course, followers of the issue know very well that supporters of the propsed system believe that Portland is a model that Albuquerque should follow.
Before the issue does come up again, I hope our Councilors will take a few minutes to read transportation analyst Randal O’Toole’s excellent study which studies the impact of massive rail spending on cities and clearly illustrates that if Albuquerque adopts a similar, pro-rail policy, we can expect higher taxes, less government services, more expensive housing, and gridlock on the roads like we’ve never seen before.
Since so few in this state seem to care or understand the very real fiscal impact of wasting taxpayer dollars on transportation boondoggles (see the Rail Runner as an example), I will focus on O’Toole’s points on congestion. For starters, O’Toole points out, in its 2020 regional transportation plan (published in 2002), Metro (the regional government body that runs Portland and surrounding areas, picture MRCOG on massive doses of steroids) predicted that its plans would increase the amount of time Portlanders waste sitting in traffic more than 6.6 times. Congestion would increase despite all of the region’s land-use and transit plans because those programs, predicted planners, would attract no more than about 4 percent of auto drivers to other modes of travel.
In 2007, the Federal Highway Administration chastised Metro for its anti-auto transportation plans. “It is difficult to find the transportation focus” in Metro’s regional transportation plan. Metro “should acknowledge that automobiles are the preferred mode of transport by the citizens of Portland,” added the agency. “They vote with their cars every day.” Based on that “vote,” “The transportation solution for a large and vibrant metropolitan region like metropolitan Portland should include additional highway capacity options.”
These problems are just the tip of the iceberg. For more horror stories on what could happen in Albuquerque if we follow Portland down this one-way track, you’ll have to read the study.