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Transit Myths and Facts

The truth about what other people claim

Myth: MAX Light Rail only removes a fraction of a lane of freeway traffic

Fact: Those calculations can involve surveys done soon after a line's opening, and don't take into account people who decide to move and live near the line in the future, or might not have continued to take bus service.

Moreover, the number of former bus riders is often subtracted. However, that is wrong because it ignores the fact that if it weren't for MAX, those buses would be on the freeway. For example, before Westside MAX opened, there were eight different bus lines on the Sunset Hwy (though one of them did continue):
--Line 57
--Line 58-Sunset
--Line 59
--Line 60
--Line 88-SW 198th Avenue
--Line 89-Rock Creek
--Line 91-TV Hwy Express
--Line 94X-Walker Rd Express
All those lines added up to many buses an hour. And that doesn't consider riders who did ride the buses but find MAX an improvement.

Myth: While light rail may not pollute directly, generating the electricity causes pollution (or other environmental damage) elsewhere

Fact: Local pollution (from traffic) in a highly-populated area is much worse than that generated in sparsely-populated areas. In addition, its possible to generate electricity using a wide variety of processes and locations, and is more efficient since it doesn't have to be carried around. These choices are unavailable to regular buses and traffic.

Myth: Transit does not carry enough people to reduce congestion, except in the central city

Fact: At least in the past, TriMet's highest-used bus line has been a crosstown one that goes nowhere near downtown. In addition, many buses on the eastside are well used outside of the central city.

Myth: Most downtown workers are well paid government workers

Fact: While Downtown Portland is a hub of government, there are many other employees there too, such as law office workers, retail/service workers and restaurant workers. In addition, not all government workers are highly paid, since they include janitors, contracted security, receptionists and others.

By Jason McHuff,