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  #61  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 6:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Urbanpdx View Post
The bum in question wasn't asking for change, he wanted $18. He forced the man to put on his dirty gloves and pretty much had him cornered.
That sounds about right for the streetcar...did this happen at night urban? i definitely side with urban and pacnw on this one. I'd love to see MAX tunneled, thus bringing an end to fareless square if mass transit here were free then i wouldn't complain, but since it ISN'T i expect people to pay-no matter what their socioeconomic status is. I could go on for a long time about the problems i see with trimet, but i doubt people want to read it so i'll spare everyone. Bottom line: eliminate fareless square(ptown is super walkable anyways), and enforce fares.
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  #62  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 6:43 AM
Drmyeyes Drmyeyes is offline
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Obviously urbanpdx, people responsible for the kind of heavy handed extortion you say the bum dealt out shouldn't be riding mass transit. But in future, why not be clear about it rather than throw around reckless and harmful generalizations?

PacificNW, it's been awhile, so I can't remember exactly, but I believe the fareless square idea was one promoted, if not conceived, by the business community going back to the time when they were trying to figure out how to get on an even playing field with the destination malls. That's why after a quite a few years passing, fareless was extended to Lloyd Center

For shoppers and merchants especially, I think its a great deal, but good for tourism too. For everybody else, well...it's a great bonus and honorable civic gesture that everybody should want to have work out. That's not going to happen if people are gradually allowed to get away with more and more funny crap like urbanpdx cites as an example above.

See, for myself...I don't think people should be putting their feet on seats. Young and/or healthy people should be offering theirs to older, injured, or frail people automatically. Someone in authority in each car should be there to deny service to anybody that doesn't meet a basic qualifying standard to ride even before they walk through the door. There's a lot of people out there that need employment. Budgeting for people to do this makes sense. Maybe they wouldn't have to ride the entire line, but rather, areas that would seem to call for extra attention. This would cut down on numbers of people needed for this job.

Now if there really is a strong enough case for improving service, i.e., improving rider conduct through the addition of conductors, more fare inspectors and security rather than sustaining current levels by dispensing with fareless square, then maybe that's something to consider.

Meanwhile, everyone that rides should be thinking about little things they can do while they're riding that can make the trip better for everybody. That includes watching how fellow passengers are being treated by other riders and doing something about it when called for.
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  #63  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 3:27 PM
Urbanpdx Urbanpdx is offline
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Fareless Square is similar to the yellow bikes. Most of us wish things could be that nice.

I have no doubt that an extra person's salary could be paid by the increased collections.
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  #64  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 4:37 PM
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An eliminated Fareless square could potentially severly weaken TriMet and Downtown's health. As a downtown worker who needs to get around downtown daily, not everything is in a walking distance. When I have an hour for lunch, I can get to the square, mall, or food carts on 5th in 10 minutes, when I'm walking it is 15-20. Likewise, when I have a meeting in one office and another across town and 15 minutes in between, I can hop onto any bus on the mall and get between appointments. I can get between my evening class at PSU and not have to leave work before 4:30 instead of 4 if I was walking. To pay a fare for each of those trips a day, would raise my fares to over $20 a week limiting how far I am willing to go around town. When I am transporting around downtown, I'm creating a presence, spending money, adding vitality to our core and giving me more options to support local merchants and food dealers, than just the Subway around the block that I can get to in 5 minutes.

The PR from the fareless square would be lost too. I sat across from two women from Georgia who had just got in from the airport on MAX, checked into their hotel, and were riding to the waterfront from the square and wanted to know where to pay for their ticket. I explained to them it was free and you should have seen the shock register on their faces. I am positive they are going to go back home and will tell their Atlanta friends how wonderful Portland is, how we don't try and scourge every last dollar from people through a sales tax, and downtown's fareless square.

Conventions at the OCC have choose to exhibit here because of the fareless square. In fact, it is even frequently included in the the contract that since there isn't a HQ hotel, attendees get to ride the system for free downtown. It would be a fight to get the people who sell the space at the OCC to give up that little chip of good will.

While the system is abused there are solutions to the problem without eliminating the square. TriMet is considered in a strange way, private property. TriMet has the right to ask anyone to leave their property (trains, busses and even stops and platforms). If TriMet instituted a free ticket for fareless only, inspectors could still check to make sure people have the appropriate documentation for riding the system. Since people would be required to select a free ticket, the free tix could have the limits of the free square well marked. Than TriMet can raise fines for knowingly skipping out on fares outside of the free zone. So, you would have interaction with fare agents checking for your free or purchased ticket, allowing them to 'confront' anti-social behavior with cause, and clean up the system, as well as raising punishments for cheating the system as people couldn't say they didn't know the limits.
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  #65  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 5:16 PM
Urbanpdx Urbanpdx is offline
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Mark, first of all, you could buy a monthly pass for far less than $20 per week. Second, why should I (a tri-met tax paying employer) pay for you to get a sandwich or go to school. Why don't you just force me to come down there and pick you up and give you a ride?

Dont' you think that Atlanta couple would gladly pay 25 cents inside fareless square to pay for inspectors that make sure they have a cleaner, safer more positive experience once on the bus/train? The OCC could have short term passes they hand out to convention attendees with those badges they make them wear.
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  #66  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 6:01 PM
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Why should those who live, work, shop, play or go to school in downtown Portland/Seattle get to ride transit free when those outside the free zone must pay? As for those attending a convention at the convention center a transit pass could be a part of their registration fee/package.
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  #67  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 6:43 PM
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I believe fareless square was a response to the air polution problem we had in the early 70's which we no longer have and also a bone thrown to businesses that were disrupted by the bus mall construction.
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  #68  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 6:47 PM
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From a very biased source...tri met:

State Implementation Plan. In the mid-1970's, the air in downtown Portland violated federal health standards one day out of every three. The federal government could, at that time, impose sanctions. In an effort to clean up the air, the region adopted the Carbon Monoxide and Ozone State Implementation Plan (SIP) in 1977. Key elements of the SIP were the federal motor vehicle emissions control standards for new automobiles, the DEQ's vehicle inspection and maintenance program, and the City of Portland's downtown parking lid.

Fareless Square was included as an element of the SIP for two reasons. By offering downtown workers and shoppers free transit service within the CBD, Fareless Square would reduce short auto trips made within the CBD, thereby reducing air pollution. In addition, Fareless Square was important for making the City of Portland's parking policies work for the public by providing free intra-downtown mobility to workers and shoppers who take transit to downtown Portland.

Downtown Portland air has not violated federal air quality standards since 1984. (One day above the standard per year is allowed. Downtown air quality was above the standards once in 1985 and once in 1987.) The DEQ attributes the success of the air quality program largely to the federal emissions standards on new cars, the DEQ inspection program, the growth in the percentage of trips to downtown taken on transit since the mid-1970's, and the City of Portland's parking policies. The specific impact of Fareless Square on air quality has not been tested. However, a 1987 Tri-Met marketing study indicates that auto commuters use Fareless Square, suggesting that some intra-downtown auto trips have been diverted to transit. The study indicated that of the people who used Fareless Square at least once a month, 42% drove alone or carpooled to work, while 50% of the Fareless Square users took Tri-Met to work.

Under the Clean Air Act of 1975, the SIP is federally enforceable. Even though the specific effects of Fareless Square on air quality have not been determined, if Fareless Square were eliminated today, the Environmental Protection Agency could require the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to find replacement measures equivalent to the estimated impact of
Fareless Square. This would require extensive analysis to determine the current impact of Fareless Square as well as the impacts of any changes. Should these substitute measures fail to achieve air quality standards, the region could ultimately face federal economic sanctions, including a possible cutoff of federal highway and sewer funds.
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  #69  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 6:54 PM
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more from tri-met:

History of Fareless Square Operations in Downtown Portland

Tri-Met's Fareless Square is a well known, integral part of the fare structure. Although it appears
to be a constant, in fact it has undergone many changes in its 16 year lifetime. Following is a
synopsis of how Fareless Square has evolved, and its inter-dependency with the overall fare
structure.

Fare Collection Before Fareless Square

The traditional method of fare payment for transit systems is pay-as-you-enter (PAYE) which
works as follows: passengers enter through the front door and at that point pay their fare or show
their transfer. The advantage of PAYE is that drivers can monitor fares and ensure that every
rider has paid at least the base fare before completing the trip. This was the system used by Tri-
Met prior to the inception of Fareless Square. All trips within the downtown area cost the base
fare.

Original Operation - 1975

Modeled after Seattle's downtown "Magic Carpet" service, Tri- Met's Fareless Square began in
1975 two years before the opening of the Transit Mall. From the inception of Fareless Square, it
was recognized that fare evasion and fare inspection could be a problem. To help mitigate the
possible revenue loss, Tri-Met first implemented Fareless Square with PAYE on trips going
towards downtown, and a pay-as-you-leave (PAYL) system on trips going away from
downtown. In downtown, passengers could board through all doors.

However, PAYL did not work well on crowded buses where passengers struggled to get past
standing passengers so they could pay their fare as they disembarked. PAYL resulted in travel
time increases due to delays in passengers exiting the buses. This required additional buses and
operating expense during the evening peak hours. Bus operators felt the PAYL system did not
eliminate fare evasion. Determined evaders simply walked off the bus at the end of their trip
without paying their fare.

First Revision - 1979

To eliminate the costs of the time delays, in 1979 Tri-Met suspended Fareless Square and
returned to PAYE between 3-6 PM weekdays but retained Fareless Square and PAYL downtown
all other hours. However, the on-again/off-again system created confusion for passengers.

Second Revision - 1982

PAYL was replaced with PAYE all directions all hours in 1982 when Tri-Met implemented self-
service fare in anticipation of the start-up of MAX service. Rather than have drivers monitor
fares, passengers were responsible for having valid proof of payment, either a transfer, validated
ticket, or monthly pass. Checking fares became the responsibility of a force of 30 fare
inspectors. Because operators were not responsible for monitoring fare payment and to take
advantage of the new articulated buses with three double-wide doors, passengers were allowed to
board any door. Fare evasion increased significantly during this time since passengers could
enter and leave the vehicle without ever having paid a fare.

Third Revision - 1984

With the elimination of self-service fares in April 1984, Tri-Met returned to driver monitoring of
fares and the fare inspection staff was eventually reduced to five. However, since passengers
could still enter through the rear doors in the Mall without paying their fare, this system still did
not take full advantage of driver monitoring. Fare evasion remained a problem.

Elimination Proposal - June 1986

In 1986, a proposal was taken to the public to eliminate Fareless Square. The proposal was
designed to address Tri-Met revenue issues especially fare evasion and the costs of fare
inspection. The proposal was dropped, however, because of public support for Fareless Square
in providing intra-downtown mobility and meeting regional air quality goals.

MAX is Introduced - September 1986

MAX was designed to be fully integrated with the bus system. This design takes maximum
advantage of vehicle and manpower resources, and simplifies the system as well. To simplify
the fare structure, MAX and bus fares are as comparable as possible. Although fares must be
purchased and validated before boarding (operators do not check fares on MAX), passengers do
not need to know a completely different set of rules for MAX versus bus trips. Unlike many
transit districts, the two modes are completely integrated. Buses feed MAX stations where
passengers are required to transfer in order to continue their trip downtown. Since bus/MAX
transfers were integral to the system, the fare structure also needed to be integrated. The fare is
the same regardless of which vehicle is boarded first, transfers are free, and both MAX and the
bus are free within Fareless Square.

With the opening of MAX in 1986, the number of fare inspectors was increased. Since
passengers do not pass by an operator on MAX, fare inspectors assume the role of driver
monitoring. However, the number of inspectors dedicated to Fareless Square on the buses was
decreased since 1986 from five to one or two.

Fourth Revision - 1988

In 1988, modification of Fareless Square was again considered in order to lower the amount of
real and perceived fare evasion. Public testimony at public hearings often indicated that paying
riders felt "cheated" by fare evasion associated with Fareless Square.

At the time, Tri-Met estimated that Fareless Square, the source of nearly all bus fare evasion,
cost Tri-Met $250,000 - $300,000 annually in unpaid fares. Given the concerns with fare
evasion, several options for Fareless Square were considered:

1. Eliminating Fareless Square was rejected because it did not address the regional needs for
air quality improvements, and intra-downtown mobility for transit patrons and auto
commuters.

2. Options for maintaining Fareless Square at only select hours or select days (e.g. 10 a.m.
to 3 p.m. weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday) were rejected. Time based fares
would be inconsistent with the goal of a simple fare system that encourages ridership.

3. Allowing Fareless Square trips only at select bus stops was rejected for two reasons: 1) It
would be too confusing and would defeat the goal of encouraging ridership through
simplicity, 2) It would not provide a high enough level of service to meet the goal for
intra-downtown mobility.

4. Charging a special fare for Fareless Square trips was rejected because it would most
likely not increase passenger revenue (most would opt to take their car, walk, or not make
the trip rather than pay the fare), or decrease fare evasion. Passengers could still ride past
the boundaries of Fareless Square without proper fare payment.

5. Replacing Fareless Square with a downtown shopper shuttle was rejected because it was
not cost effective. Further, past experience has shown that people either take their car
thereby reducing the benefits of Fareless Square, walk to their destination, or do not make
the trip rather than wait five or ten minutes for a shuttle.

6. Retaining Fareless Square and increasing fare inspection around Fareless Square was
rejected as not cost effective. Driver monitoring of fares was seen as a more cost
effective alternative to inspecting passenger fares.

Tri-Met opted to retain Fareless Square with minor modifications. To increase the ability of
operators to monitor fares, decrease the potential for fare evasion, and simplify the system, Tri-
Met retained PAYE and returned to front door boarding for the entire system, including within
Fareless Square. All passengers are now required to enter through the front doors and either
show proof of fare payment or indicate to the operator that they are only traveling within
Fareless Square. No fare inspectors are permanently dedicated to Fareless Square, although
there are periodic inspections on the perimeter and on problem routes. The return to driver
monitoring and PAYE has improved driver job satisfaction by allowing more control over fare
evasion.

The current method of operations appears to be the most cost effective for reducing fare evasions
costs. Without 100% positive checks of all passengers, the fare evasion rate for buses is
probably nearing its potential lower limit. The periodic spot checks of problem routes appears to
provide adequate coverage of the bus system.

A March 1990 Fare Evasion Review determined that 1.87% of all riders on buses leaving
downtown evade the fare. Because riders can board the bus in Fareless Square without paying
even the base fare, Fareless Square is the costliest source of bus fare evasion. The annual cost of
this fare evasion is an estimated $310,000-$325,000. (Tri-Met, Fare Evasion Review, March 9,
1990, KPMG Peat Marwick.) Fare evasion on MAX was determined to cost between $150,000
and $157,000 annually, an evasion rate of 4.81%. Not all of the evasion on MAX can be
attributable to Fareless Square, however, since there is no driver monitoring and the evasion
could be taking place outside of Fareless Square.

Fareless Square Today - 1991

Tri-Met supports the public policy decisions which created and maintain the existing Fareless
Square. Through an iterative process, the current configuration of Fareless Square and the fare
structure appears to have struck a balance in terms of public policy needs and operational
concerns. Although a limited amount of fare evasion does occur, Tri-Met management is
satisfied with the current operations of Fareless Square.
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  #70  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 8:08 PM
Drmyeyes Drmyeyes is offline
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".... was a response to the air polution problem we had in the early 70's which we no longer have and also a bone thrown to businesses that were disrupted by the bus mall construction." urbanpdx

The first part: "....was a response to the air polution problem we had in the early 70's which we no longer have...".

Are you serious? Portland may be meeting state and federal air pollution guidelines, but to suggest that we no longer have an air pollution problem is absurd and ridiculous. Through efforts to address the problem through pollution control equipment on vehicles, monitoring those vehicles, and farther flung measures such as fareless square, we may be managing the problem to degree, but the problem has not gone away, and in fact because of anticipated population increases, is likely growing.

Someone like DaMan may be able to get a bus pass to cut his cross-downtown mass transit expenses, but perhaps for people like him, this isn't economically feasible, because his work and lifestyle also requires him to support a car. Such a person, when faced with the expense of a fare to ride mass transit, will obviously choose to use their vehicle, since that's already been paid for, preventing the opportunity for mass transit to eliminate car trips.

"A March 1990 Fare Evasion Review determined that 1.87% of all riders on buses leaving downtown evade the fare." from History of Fareless Square Operations in Downtown Portland, provided by urbanpdx

Granted, money from relatively small numbers of people can add up to significant amounts, but less than two percent evasion is close to picking straws.

I'd hate to see fareless eliminated. I have to have a car, and when I'm downtown I like to walk, so I rarely take advantage of fareless, but the option is very appealing. When I need to use it, it's great, as I'm sure it must be for people who don't have my currently great health, or who are older.

I'd like to see Tri-Met build up their fare inspector staff to former levels if that was the case, and have conductors to reclaim the lost fares from that %1.87 of riders that aren't paying.

I'd like to see Tri-met address the fare zone setup so it would be a little more cost effective for me to use the max from downtown beaverton to downtown portland. Currently, it cost more than it does to drive, which would be fine, (I don't mind supporting a good thing), but I don't have it to spare. Spare change?
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  #71  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 8:50 PM
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Yes...more fare inspectors...then keep the fareless square..
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  #72  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 9:13 PM
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I should have clarified, I do have an employer paid annual pass, my employer also pays payroll taxes on my salary. However, I realize I have a generous benefits package from my employer, without the pass or a free system, I'd be in a world of hurt considering how many times a day I actually use TriMet as opposed to say, a taxi everytime I'm traveling more than five blocks.

Even though my employer subsidizes fareless square and those who ride in it, it subsidizes other users too. My employer subsidizes the special Lift busses that are used to get handicap and elderly people around. Maybe those who can't afford the system should be forced to pay the full cost of that expensive service or go without too? Or, maybe we should discountinue service to routes in outer Hillsboro and Clackamas, since they are subsidized by my employer also.

I have the greatest respect for you PacNW but life isn't always about, why do they get the free ride while I get the shaft? Fareless square has a myriad of benefits, I mentioned a couple. It is vital to keep downtown as the central hub for our transit system. It is also important to be mindful of the businesses and employees that work downtown and need to get around in a easy fashion. It would be criminal, IMO, to expect my employer to give me a quarter so I can ride the MAX up three stops instead of having to carry a 45lb box of conference materials up the street or face getting a hefty fine if I didn't have a quarter in my pocket.

Fareless square isn't acting as a free service to homeless and the lazy people that don't want to pay, it benefits the conferences at the OCC, tourists visiting downtown, employers using the system to get their employees and goods around the core, developers and dignataries leading delegations from other cities to our various projects, people living in the higher concentration of subsidized housing in the core to their service agencies, and even those that might catch a game in the Rose Garden, and dinner downtown before.

I'm just saying, before trashing fareless square because a handful of vagrants take over precious space and create a hostile environment, lets look at resolving that problem without losing all the other benefits downtown has enjoyed for some 30 years from having a clean and friendly fareless square.
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  #73  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 9:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drmyeyes View Post

Are you serious? Portland may be meeting state and federal air pollution guidelines, but to suggest that we no longer have an air pollution problem is absurd and ridiculous. Through efforts to address the problem through pollution control equipment on vehicles, monitoring those vehicles, and farther flung measures such as fareless square, we may be managing the problem to degree, but the problem has not gone away, and in fact because of anticipated population increases, is likely growing.
What evidence do you have to support that?
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  #74  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 10:04 PM
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Mark...I tend to agree with you...good points, but I think the whole fare structure can be examined again. It appears that this hasn't been done...and maybe the streetcar needs to become a "true" part of TriMet. (Maybe TriMet isn't interested).

I think if more fare inspectors were around for all the systems in PDX fare evasion and disruptive behavior could minimized even more. Thanks for the input. Take care...by the way, I enjoy these kinds of discussions...opens my mind a bit...
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  #75  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 10:44 PM
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^I enjoy these discussions too, keeps me entertained on slooow days.

The fare structure is actually in front of a citizens advisory board. I served on a TriMet security board and the discussion of how to improve security (duh, eliminate fareless square) was debated in our meetings at length. It was during those discussion that I realized, TriMet already has much of the requirements in place to enforce a safer fareless square. What TriMet is lacking is the ability to go up to people without cause. So, if someone is required to hold a pass, even a free one, the 'with cause' definition can be broadly interpreted to remove people abusing the system. The next question than is, how many trust TriMet's security firm to make sure they are being fair and just in determining who they are going to single out?

TriMet does have a pretty great security team. I'm not sure why it isn't used more effectively. The undercover team has done an excellent job of getting the drugs and drug deals off the MAX. The pics of the team were incredible...TriMet even has a dressing room in the basement of one downtown parking garage that I was able to go into that has every kind of clothes imaginable. Stinky urinated pants to suits. The undercover team is like air marshalls, you never really know if that person across from you is just a piss-drunk fool, or a security person playing the part, waiting for someone to offer them a 'bud'.

Now that the drug crime statistics are lower, you will probably see TriMet refocus on fareless square especially since the citizens advisory commitee that was working the fareless issue, should be issuing their recomendations soon. I think fareless can be saved and better enforced, you just have to have a group of citizens willing to make sure that happens.
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  #76  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2007, 11:21 PM
Drmyeyes Drmyeyes is offline
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"What evidence do you have to support that?" urbanpdx

You mean statistical evidence? Charts, bars and graphs? Sorry urbanpdx, I'm not going to play that game. I don't have, and won't provide folders of statistics for you to pore over and analyze so as to enable you to hone strategies by which to condition people not to believe that an ongoing problem with air pollution exists. There are already plenty of statistics out there that have been conducted by many independant and governmental organizations that support this sad fact of modern civilization, and others are ongoing. If you need them, you can get them.

I can see what's going on around me, and for my level of responsibility, that's all the evidence I need. I can see the clogged freeways, heavily used mass transit, reports of predicted population increases, streets crowded with cars and people. I understand the very delicate balance of automobile mechanisms that must be meticulously maintained in order for them to minimize their contribution to air pollution. That's evidence for me.

I realize the system of looking at what's going on around you may not be very satisfying or reassuring to people who love to dwell on projections and conclusions posed by piles and piles of statistics. but it's an old, time tested one that still has merit. Statistics are helpful, but for me, not as much as they are for certain other people. That's kind of the way the world is, and is one of the obstacles to be negotiated as a means of solving common problems.

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  #77  
Old Posted Jan 26, 2007, 12:21 AM
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The fight against air pollution is one of the great success stories of environmental protection in the United States. Even as many metropolises have grown over the last 30 years, and vehicle travel has doubled, air pollution levels have been dropping. Here are just a few examples:

According to data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), average ozone levels in urban and suburban areas decreased by almost 25 percent between 1980 and 1999. A number of major metropolitan areas, including Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Newark, San Francisco, and San Diego, achieved 60 percent to 90 percent reductions in annual violations of the federal ozone health standard between the late 1980s and the late 1990s. Even Houston, which has not made much progress on air pollution in the 1990s, has reduced its air pollution violations by more than 50 percent from 1970s levels. Houston's population also grew by a whopping 30 percent in the 1990s, so even holding the line on ozone pollution can be seen as a significant achievement.

Particulate pollution - the fine haze particles that obscure views and can lodge deep in our lungs - has also declined nationwide, with more than 60 percent of metropolitan areas seeing reductions in peak particulate levels and none seeing increases during the last decade. Man-made particulate emissions plunged by 55 percent between 1980 and 1999. Violations of the particulate health standard have decreased in both frequency and magnitude in most areas.

Finally, violations of the carbon monoxide standard decreased by 93 percent between 1990 and 1999, putting the country on the verge of eliminating carbon monoxide pollution as a public health concern.

The South Coast Air Basin, which includes Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange counties and is home to more than 16 million people, is the biggest success story of all. In 1990 the most polluted areas of South Coast exceeded the federal ozone health standard on 131 days, making it the most polluted area in the nation by far. Ten years later, the violation rate has dropped by 70 percent to about 40 per year. High ozone levels now also cover a much smaller portion of the region, and peak ozone levels are 50 percent lower than 10 years ago. Taken together this means that far fewer people are exposed to unhealthful levels of ozone. For those who are exposed, the exposures occur much less often and at much lower concentrations than in the past. LA's air quality progress occurred in spite of a 10 percent increase in population during the 1990s.

Particulate pollution has also decreased throughout California, home to some of the highest particulate pollution levels in the country. Both southern California and the Central Valley reduced violations of the federal particulate health standard by about 80 percent during the 1990s.

So despite the public's gloomy perception, America has made great strides in the fight against air pollution. What about the future? Public perception has it that growth in vehicle travel will cause future air quality to get worse. But the past 20 years have shown that metropolitan growth and clean air can go together. On-road pollution studies have shown that average pollution from the vehicle fleet is dropping by about 5 percent to 10 percent per year. Tough EPA and California pollution standards for new cars and trucks will ensure that air pollution levels continue to go down for the foreseeable future as the fleet turns over to new low-polluting vehicles.

A society can make good decisions about improving health and safety only if its people have accurate information about the risks they face. In a world of limited resources, more serious problems will get shortchanged if risks from air pollution continue to be overestimated. The fight against air pollution is one of the great success stories of environmental protection. It's a shame people don't know more about the fruits of their efforts.

article by By Joel Schwartz
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  #78  
Old Posted Jan 26, 2007, 12:48 AM
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vjoe vjoe is offline
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Urbanpdx, it sounds like you work downtown. Do you want to be breathing air that contain 200x the safe level of Benzene particle for the next 30 or however many years you will work there?
Part of the article is below, I highlighted the 200x part.



From the Oregonian

Sunday, October 29, 2006
MICHAEL MILSTEIN

On sunny days, families picnic in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, joggers trot by and teenagers chat on cell phones.

You wouldn't know it from the crisp view of a shining Mount Hood, but they're all breathing a soup of toxic air. It's especially full of an invisible but dangerous offender: benzene, spewed from tailpipes of cars on highways ringing the city.

Benzene, a potent chemical that causes cancer and blood disorders, is not unusual in major cities with lots of vehicles. But in Portland, it's worse.

That's because the gasoline we put in our cars, pickups and SUVs is dirtier.

It holds nearly twice as much benzene as the national average and three times as much as gasoline in California, where strict limits make its gasoline the cleanest. Parts of Portland last year recorded benzene levels about as high as the Bronx borough of New York City -- in some neighborhoods many times above levels considered healthy for long-term exposure.

The reason? The federal government requires cleaner gasoline elsewhere -- it makes no such requirement in the Northwest because our skies are considered too clean to trigger regulation. So vehicles in Oregon and Washington, fueled by gasoline made from benzene-rich Alaskan oil, vent about 50 percent more toxic compounds into the air per mile than cars in East Coast and Southern states, data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show.

The skies above humming freeways such as Interstate 5, I-84 and I-405 flow with hidden rivers of these chemicals. Those rivers surge into Portland's urban core, filling downtown, residential neighborhoods and industrial zones like soup in a bowl.

Although the EPA now proposes new rules to reduce benzene in gasoline nationally, it would allow gasoline here to remain the dirtiest in the country and pre-empt Oregon from adopting tougher limits of its own -- because states usually cannot override a federal rule.

State and local air quality agencies are fighting the approach, saying it leaves people here at unacceptably high risk.

Soaring cancer risks

Assessing the risk is tricky. The more benzene in gasoline, the more ends up in the air. Although the risk of developing cancer from a lifetime of breathing benzene remains slim in Multnomah County -- about 26 in a million, far less than the risk from smoking -- it's more than twice the national average, according to federal data.

"The higher the benzene, the worse off you are," said Dave Nordberg, a transportation specialist with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

For people in parts of the city laden with toxic air, however, the risk runs higher. A new analysis by the DEQ, which examined the way bad air swirls through the city, shows benzene concentrations in parts of downtown and the Pearl District at more than 200 times levels considered safe for people breathing it throughout their lives.

etc....
Read the rest of the article at

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/orego...l=7&thispage=1
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  #79  
Old Posted Jan 26, 2007, 1:25 AM
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I was under the impression that the benzene levels were because of the oil that is refined from Alaska. It contains higher levels of benzene than oil from other parts of the world and the refinery's in Washington state are not required to reduce the levels.
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  #80  
Old Posted Jan 26, 2007, 2:38 AM
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there is a mention of Alaskan oil in the article. i find it ironic that because our skies are too clean we get worse gas quality.
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