Portland Council OKs transit service for TPCO employees
by Shane Ersland
Jul 14, 2014 | 1062 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A public transit service will soon be available in Portland to transport employees to a work site in Gregory.

The Corpus Christi Regional Transit Authority currently contracts with Tianjin Pipe Company (TPCO) to provide two vans for the transportation of workers from two apartment complexes in Portland to the TPCO facility in Gregory. The company expects the number of workers using the service to increase, so the Transit Authority requested the use of buses rather than vans.

The Portland City Council reviewed the Transit Authority’s request to operate buses in Portland during a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday. City Manager Randy Wright said there was no direct cost to the city. There could, however, be costs associated with pavement damage due to buses starting and stopping at bus stops. The Transit Authority will be responsible for any direct damage resulting from the use of buses on city streets.

Councilman Gary Moore asked if the initiative would open the door for additional Transit Authority services in Portland.

“We’ll only provide transportation for what is funded,” Transit Authority Director of Operations Rosa Villarreal said. “In the future, if Portland wanted public transit, that would be a whole other avenue.”

Councilman John Green asked if one bus would be sufficient to transport all employees.

“We’re looking at transporting 40 to 50 employees, which one bus will accommodate,” Villarreal said. “Every bus can hold 75 to 80 people.”

Villarreal said additional Portland residents—including those who don’t work at TCPO— could ride the bus, although no additional stops would be considered.

“Our charter rules prohibit us from making it a private bus,” she said. “Anybody could ride it, but it is only going to go to TCPO and the apartment complexes.”

TCPO Director of Administration J.J. Johnston said the employees that need transportation are from China—where the company’s headquarters is—and don’t have drivers licenses.

“They’re typically here for two to three months, then they go back to China,” Johnston said. “They have to leave for VISA reasons.”

The employees live at Portland’s Lands End Apartments and The Pavilions.

“We notify the apartments of the different tenants,” Johnston said.

Most of the employees in need of transportation are engineers, Johnston said.

“The project could go on for awhile,” he added. “We’ll have 200 to 300 people working, but less than 50 will be from China.”

The TCPO facility will make seamless steel pipe.

“We’ll be taking about 700,000 tons of scrap out of landfills,” Johnston said. “We’ll produce 500,000 tons of seamless steel pipe in 2017.”
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