TriMet considers Bus Rapid Transit

The latest update of TriMet’s Transit Improvement Plan contains an interesting development: TriMet is considering Bus Rapid Transit on two corridors:

• A corridor from downtown Portland to Gresham, generally following Powell Blvd from downtown to around SE 82nd or I-205 and Division St east of SE 82nd or I-205
• A corridor generally following I-205 between Clackamas Town Center possibly stretching as far as Beaverton, with service to Oregon City, Tualatin and Tigard.

For those unfamiliar with the term, BRT originally referred to the grade-separated rail-like bus systems found in cities like Curitiba and Bogota. This “full BRT” is often used in developing countries that need the speed and capacity of a rail line but have difficulty raising the high amounts of capital required. In the US, the availability of federal funds for major rail projects has made full BRT less common. The cost of acquiring the necessary right-of-way is also a major part of the cost of a light rail line, so full BRT may not save as much capital funding as one might expect.

TriMet is considering a more limited form of BRT they call “On-Street BRT.” This is the form of BRT recently established in the Seattle region in the form of King County Metro’s “RapidRide” and Community Transit’s “Swift.” These systems generally run buses in mixed traffic with only limited exclusive segments, and instead rely on a variety of other mechanisms to make the buses run with more speed and reliability. These tools include: high frequency; off-board payment; real-time arrival signs at stations; wider stop spacing; signal priority; queue jumps and bus-only signals; and many others depending on the project. The rise of On-Street BRT is driven primarily by a new category of federal transportation funding called “Very Small Starts.” This funding source provides relatively small grants to transit agencies that create such a BRT line, and comes with several requirements. For example, this type of BRT must have its own brand (like RapidRide) with distinctive vehicles, and must have widely spaced “stations” with off-board payment rather than just normal stops.

TriMet has identified two major corridors that will be studied for possible On-Street BRT investment. The first would run from downtown Portland east to Gresham via Powell Boulevard and Division Street. This corridor was identified in the recent Metro High Capacity Transit (HCT) Plan as a first-tier priority for the region. This BRT line would replace portions of the busy number 9 bus and would provide an excellent parallel route to the existing MAX Blue Line to Gresham farther north. Powell Boulevard is currently very car-focused, so a major transit investment like this could make a huge difference in this corridor.

So why not light rail? One problem is a lack of available right-of-way. While it would be technically possible to put light rail in the center of the roadway like the Yellow Line on Interstate, the reduction in car capacity would be unacceptable on these major arterials. Another related problem is that Powell is an ODOT facility, so TriMet would be severely constrained in any efforts to remove or change automobile capacity. TriMet could build an elevated rail line, but that would be much more expensive and most likely heavily opposed by the neighborhoods and businesses along the line. It is also worth pointing out that this BRT line would be able to bypass the Ross Island Bridge by using the new transit-only bridge currently under construction.

The other BRT line being considered as a longer-term project would run on I-205, connecting Clackamas Town Center (terminus of the MAX Green Line), Oregon City, Tualatin, and Tigard. This corridor is in the second-priority tier of projects in the HCT Plan. The I-205 BRT line would be a useful crosstown service connecting several suburban employment centers without going through downtown. It would also provide an east-west link between the WES Commuter Rail, the future Southwest Corridor light rail line, and the MAX Green Line. It could even connect with the Milwaukie Line if it is ever extended to Oregon City.

One advantage of BRT is its quick turnaround time. While light rail in the SW Corridor may take a decade to become a reality, these BRT lines could be completed in just a few years. TriMet is smart to consider a cheaper, faster form of high-capacity transit, especially given the recent decline in federal and state transportation funding. This is the kind of flexibility that many have hoped to see from TriMet. Time will tell if these lines are built and how they function, but I for one am excited by the possibilities.

34 Comments

34 Responses to TriMet considers Bus Rapid Transit

  1. EngineerScotty
    November 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm Link

    Interesting (and welcome news).

    The prospect of BRT on Powell, at least out to 92nd, has been on the radar screen for a while now; this is the first I’ve heard of extending it out to Gresham. And routing it on Division east of there makes more sense–there’s a lot more density and development along Division than along Powell east of the freeway. (And a lot more room to add things like queue jump lanes and better-quality stations, and no need to deal with ODOT).

    One interesting bit: What happens to the existing 4 and 9 lines? 9/Powell is frequent from downtown to 92nd, and runs at half frequency east of there; the 4/Division is frequent for its entire length. Do the two lines “swap” at 92nd Avenue? Does the 4 only run out to 92nd and Division, and a new (non-frequent) line run between 92nd and Gresham along Powell?

    A BRT along I-205 sounds like an excellent idea. Would it be a “freeway BRT”, similar to many lines in the north Seattle area, with dedicated stations and stops long the freeway; or would it venture off the freeway at times, as does the existing local lines such as the 79 and 154? Would the bus get exclusive lanes on I-205, or would it be stuck in traffic like everyone else?

  2. Erik H.
    November 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm Link

    Why is Gresham getting a second high-capacity line while Tigard still has nothing?

    Powell BRT needs to go on the back-burner before it’s even put on the range. 99W and 99E have already been long neglected by TriMet and the last time I checked Tigard residents pay the same TriMet taxes as someone in Gresham.

    If Gresham gets BRT, I expect that Gresham businesses and property owners get a 200% increase in their TriMet taxes, while Tigard residents get a 50% reduction. Barbur should have had BRT years ago. McLoughlin can clearly support BRT to Oregon City. Powell does not need it – especially since 9P bus service drops off east of I-205 (Powell Garage) anyways to less than “Frequent Service” (by TriMet’s definition, which is already less frequent than industry standard definition.)

    And…what is the purpose of an I-205 BRT route from Oregon City to Beaverton via I-205? That route doesn’t need BRT when a simple express bus route (with stops only at Clackamas TC, Oregon City TC, Tualatin P&R, Tigard TC, Washington Square TC and Beaverton TC, using motorcoaches and not the pathetic excuse of a bus TriMet currently rosters) would suffice. Why waste money building BRT in an area that has little housing and business stock…to encourage sprawl???

  3. AL M
    November 14, 2011 at 1:15 pm Link

    At least they are thinking “outside their box”, but expanding in the face of budget problems is absurd.

    I guess the planners would be out of a job if they didn’t produce documents such as these though.

  4. Paul Johnson
    November 14, 2011 at 1:24 pm Link

    We could really use an EmX style line on Canyon/TV from downtown Portland to Hillsboro Central. The existing 58 is no replacement for the old 57 FOREST GROVE/91X FOREST GROVE EXPRESS. Likewise, the existing MAX service is a lousy replacement for the old 58X SUNSET HIGHWAY EXPRESS.

  5. zefwagner
    November 14, 2011 at 1:33 pm Link

    Erik, the SW Corridor is currently being actively studied for light rail or BRT, while these two corridors are just being talked about for now. So I don’t see how Tigard is being shortchanged when it is the one of the only places slated to get High Capacity Transit in the near future.

    The difference is that Tigard would perform well with light rail, so it requires more study and alternatives analysis. With Powell, TriMet knows light rail wouldn’t work, so BRT is the only real option being considered. Funding is not much of an issue, since BRT lines can be mostly funded by the feds. In Seattle, for example, lots of service has been cut but RapidRide is expanding. Is that fair? Maybe not, but that’s how the federal transportation department works.

  6. zefwagner
    November 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm Link

    Scotty, you bring up an interesting point. I think flipping the lines might make sense–it wouldn’t look good on the map, but it would make sense from the perspective of matching frequency with demand. Maybe the 4 could be short-routed, with the tail serving Powell, and they would meet around 82nd. Transfers would be very easy. I neglected to mention in the post that the Powell line would not add much to operating costs, since the buses it would replace are pretty frequent anyway.

    The Metro HCT plan studied an alignment on the Powell, the whole way, but they found ridership would drop off dramatically east of I-205, so they suggested running it up to Division or continuing to short-route the line. Unfortunately, the Very Small Starts rules do not allow short-routing. On-Street BRT has to be better than 15-minute frequency all-day for the whole route. I think TriMet is trying to make sure these lines perform well in projections so that federal funding can be obtained.

  7. zefwagner
    November 14, 2011 at 1:45 pm Link

    Also, Erik, to your point about I-205. BRT on that corridor would be exactly as you describe–it would run express on the freeway between the various cities, and would have stations only in the urban areas. It obviously would not make sense to have stations outside the Urban Growth Boundary. I don’t see how sprawl would increase due to this line. As for vehicles, federal guidelines for BRT also require buying brand-new, distinctive buses, and the feds will pay for those. The RapidRide buses in Seattle are really nice, believe me.

  8. EngineerScotty
    November 14, 2011 at 2:01 pm Link

    Erik,

    I don’t get it.

    You spill lots of digital ink railing against WES, MAX, and Streetcar–in particular complaining that the rail system has nicer amenities (covered stations, proof-of-payment ticketing, even things like adequate sidewalks seem to upset you) than does the bus system–but here you are, openly calling for more premium express bus service, with coach-style seating (as opposed to the “pathetic excuse” busses TriMet currently runs). In the past, you’ve heaped praise on C-TRAN’s numerous express runs, which use top-of-the-line hybrids (also in coach configuration, with lots of personal amenities at each seat).

    If you are so concerned about equity of the rideship experience, I would think that Cadillac-style express bus would be the LAST think you want. (Unless you are proposing rolling this out to the entire system–it should be obvious that coach-style seating is inappropriate for local lines with frequent and simultaneous boardings and disembarkings).

    If you are concerned about suburban sprawl, I would likewise think the same thing–express bus (and commuter rail) is DESIGNED to attract the suburban sprawl market and no other. Rapid transit (whether rail or BRT) is useful to many people besides those at its endpoints; whereas express bus is not. Express-only services, especially ones without a quality parallel local service, are in my mind something that should be discouraged, not encouraged. They are inefficient; they promote sprawl (and often chiefly serve park-and-rides), and when a different quality of service is delivered to express riders rather than locals (as is C-TRAN’s practice), inequitable. You can’t attack MAX on equity grounds while at the same point calling for premium service from the ‘burbs to downtown, service which ignores the higher-density neighborhoods in between.

    A similar observation goes to Paul. Why should riders in Forest Grove or Troutdale or Oregon City or Sherwood get a nonstop bus to downtown, whereas riders in Raleigh Hills or Woodstock or St. Johns or any number of closer-in neighborhoods be stuck on the locals? What makes residents of sprawlville so deserving of targeted services? For the transit patrons who ride Al’s bus (the 58) between BTC and downtown, I’d venture that the old express lines are not a replacement–after all, these old expresses bypass them completely, and from their point of view might as well not exist at all.

    I’m sorry–and I’m going to get a bit blunt here, but I’m rather unsympathetic to suburban commuters who whine when their favorite express bus is taken away and replaced with rapid transit lines (regardless of mode)–or even when express services are cancelled outright. Rapid transit serves EVERYBODY along a corridor, not just the entitled yuppies at the endpoints. A case can be made that MAX is too expensive and that BRT or other solutions might be more cost-effective–fine. I’m perfectly happy to ride the bus, I don’t care. But many people here aren’t making that argument–they’re making the argument that TriMet sucks because it doesn’t supply them with services which are catered to their specific commuting needs. Express bus is a big money-loser for transit agencies, guys–it has astonishingly low farebox recovery (even when it comes with a premium fare); it requires far more deadheading than does all-day service; it is useless for significant numbers of the commuting public; it is useless for off-peak or reverse-direction travel; and it is frequently an exercise in economic discrimination–such services are generally only supplied to the nicer parts of town. (And for many express patrons, sadly; that’s the whoe point).

    If you want good transit service, live in places where the land-use makes good transit service reasonable to provide. Generally, this means in the denser parts of town.

    Apologies if I’m being a bit acerbic in this post.

  9. Reza
    November 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm Link

    It’s a shame that HCT was first proposed along the Powell corridor in the 60s and 70s during planning of the Mount Hood Freeway, and here we are almost 40 years later and the Powell still doesn’t have HCT, and now we’re talking about relegating this corridor for some watered-down express bus service (BRT in name only).

    The 1973 DEIS depicts a bus transitway traveling in the median of the once-future I-80N with stations at various points along the Division/Powell corridors. There was even an option to just build the transitway without the surrounding freeway (whether this was ever a serious proposal is another matter).

    This would have been a high-quality, grade-separated transit line built largely in an open trench through Southeast Portland and would have been pretty easily converted to LRT operation once the necessary funds were acquired. Sure, it would have required extensive residential and business displacements and I’m glad that the monstrosity wasn’t built.

    But how was it equitable to put a lot of the funds meant for the Mt. Hood towards the Banfield MAX line 5 miles to the north, whose benefits would never even reach the affected Division/Powell corridor? Now, in 2011, MAX is largely invisible to inner SE, with the future PMLR line only providing service to a small section of the community along the UP corridor. And now we’re talking about putting substandard “BRT” in this stretch, where buses will likely still be stuck in traffic? This is what we finally have to offer to Division-Powell after 25 years of HCT investment elsewhere in the Metro area?

    Inner SE has languished in terms of providing high-quality transit options, all the while other Portland neighborhoods, not to mention Gresham, Hillsboro, Clackamas, Milwaukie were able to get MAX service? I fail to see how this decision is in any way equitable.

  10. Lenny Anderson
    November 14, 2011 at 3:09 pm Link

    Well said Scotty. Reza, the 14 Hawthorne runs every five minutes in the peaks. SE has Frequent Service buses on Belmont, Hawthorne, Division, and Powell. The GreenLine opened in ’09 with the Orange coming in ’14. SE is very well served.

  11. Reza
    November 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm Link

    @Lenny Anderson

    I’m specifically talking about HCT. None of those Frequent Service routes fit that definition. I have been on crush-load 4 and 14 buses many times, even with the relatively high peak frequencies.

    Re:MAX, if you’d like to call the existence of two routes at 17th (starting in 2015) and 95th Avenues the definition of being “very well served”, be my guest. Neither of these routes do anything for east-west mobility if you’re traveling anywhere between those two corridors in SE without having to connect to a bus.

  12. EngineerScotty
    November 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm Link

    Reza,

    IIRC, the proposed busway as part of the Mount Hood Freeway was a late add to the project, in order to try and greenwash it. Obviously, it failed, and neither the Mt. Hood Freeway, nor the proposed busway, were ever built.

    I don’t recall a standalone BRT without the freeway ever being an option.

    At any rate, I’m sure the residents along SE Powell were more than happy to not have a busway built, if it means that their neighborhood wasn’t bulldozed for a freeway. Having your neighborhood bulldozed for a freeway, but having the consolation prize of a busway thrown in for good measure, would be kind of like the Ford Theater giving free tickets to Mrs. Lincoln to compensate her for her inconvenience.

    Whether or not Powell Boulevard is more deserving of a MAX line than other parts in town, I don’t have a strong opinion. Inner SE is presently getting a MAX line, along with a new bridge and a new Streetcar line, though these things aren’t all that useful to those east of the river. But there are plenty of other neighborhoods (I list several above) that have yet to get rapid transit either. And SE Portland is CRAWLING with frequent service bus lines–the 9, the 4, the 15, the 14, the 75, and the 72; and is also featured prominently in the Streetcar System Plan.

    Keep in mind, the Mt. Hood Freeway wasn’t intended to benefit inner SE residents; it was intended to benefit travelers (and shippers) heading to and from Gresham, Mount Hood, and other points east. So it’s hard to say that SE was cheated by not getting an 8-lane freeway ripped down the middle, with a busway intended to mitigate the damage.

  13. Alexis
    November 14, 2011 at 3:32 pm Link

    Transfers would be very easy.

    This sounds a bit optimistic, zef. :)

    I’m curious about whether and how this would affect the northern portion of the 9 route, especially the Broadway section. Broadway/Weidler seems like one of the few possibilities in NE for BRT, but I don’t know if it’s even considered feasible — it is pretty close to MAX, but the only part good for BRT would be in the inner part of NE where MAX is down in Lloyd area and then doesn’t stop again until 42nd. I don’t get the sense it’s the same set of people riding either (I ride the 9 regularly, and hardly ever ride MAX).

    Powell’s an obvious candidate for BRT, so I’m glad they’re pursuing it.

  14. Damani
    November 14, 2011 at 3:40 pm Link

    I wonder if articulated (or double-decker) buses with signal priority would do the trick.

  15. zefwagner
    November 14, 2011 at 3:40 pm Link

    Transfers would be easy between Powell BRT and the number 4 because both would be frequent service. Why is that optimistic?

    As for Broadway/Weidler, that is part of the Streetcar Plan, so it is essentially off-limits for High Capacity Transit. It is also too short of a corridor for BRT to make sense. I could maybe see using that segment plus Sandy up to I-205, but that is also in the streetcar plan. When Metro and TriMet were planning HCT in the region, they specifically excluded streetcar corridors.

    I think if Powell got BRT they would just split the number 9–the northern part is not even frequent service anyway.

  16. Reza
    November 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm Link

    @EngineerScotty:

    I never said I supported the Mt. Hood Freeway being built and make that explicitly clear above. I am just trying to provide an example of jurisdictional inequity that is arguably more egregious than your examples in the above post. (I would gladly support increased service to Woodstock, Raleigh Hills, or St. Johns, BTW. I live in St. Johns.)

    Page 60 of the 1973 DEIS provides a “Depressed Transit Only” option that would have completely eschewed the freeway in favor of a bus transitway through SE. There would have been several stations intended to benefit inner SE residents, contrary to your claim:

    The Division/Powell option would have had stations at 8th and Division, 37th and Division, 60th and Powell, 84th and Powell and 98th and Division (Kelly Butte P/R).

    The Powell option would have had stations at 8th and Division, 30th and Powell, 55th and Powell, 84th and Powell and 98th and Division (Kelly Butte P/R).

    They were even looking at building a transit-only tunnel under the Willamette just south of Marquam Bridge to connect this line to the proposed transit mall. Look it up sometime.

    Irealize that even this option would have caused massive displacement. All I’m saying is that this corridor deserves higher-quality options than what they currently have, even if it requires some creative engineering to make it possible. A BRT-lite bus down Powell does not make the grade, in my opinion, nor are the Frequent Service buses an adequate substitute to full-bore MAX or BRT. Of course with the continued financial woes TriMet finds itself in, who knows when all of this is even possible.

  17. R A Fontes
    November 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm Link

    An I-205 based BRT should have some of the same problems as WES; i.e. “there’s no there there” at most of the proposed stops. Most trips will probably involve three motor vehicles and a lot of time.

  18. al m
    November 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm Link

    I wonder if articulated (or double-decker) buses with signal priority would do the trick.

    Short answer-YUP!

    And do something about this fare payment method along with the clumsy so thin they almost disappear when you tear them transfers with the confusion wrought zones, fare types etc….

    Heck if they could do something there many bus lines would be BRT without doing any construction at all!

  19. EngineerScotty
    November 14, 2011 at 4:48 pm Link

    @Reza,

    Was the “depressed transit only” option ever seriously considered? Many things get put into DEIS documents that are there only because they have to be, or because project teams want to appear they are “considering all alternatives” even though the option has zero chance of being considered.

    A proposed tunnel under the Willamette makes me further suspect that this was a non-starter proposal; one designed to be rejected.

    Given the current situation on Powell. Much of Powell east of 39th has enough ROW for there to be a busway with its own lane–assuming the frontage roads (which FTMP exist on land condemned for the Mt. Hood Freeway) are repurposed. Division east of I-205 likewise has sufficient room. The hard part is west of 39th; where Powell is much narrower; and this is where most of the density is to be found.

  20. zefwagner
    November 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm Link

    Al makes a good point that many of the proposed On-Street BRT improvements could be done systemwide with enough funding. One nice thing about it RapidRide is the way it shows that bus service can actually be very high quality if the right investments are made. Many in Seattle wonder why they don’t just do that treatment to all the busy routes.

    The main reason, which I mentioned, is the Very Small Starts grant process, which specifically only funds a separately-branded BRT service. This is unfortunate, but I suppose the feds were not prepared to upgrade a wide swath of local bus service.

    In the end, I think this could act as a good advertisement for quality bus service, and could motivate people to get behind the cause of improving many other bus routes.

    I disagree with the comment that I-205 would not be a useful route. Crosstown bus routes are often the highest-ridership routes, for the simple reason that most people do not work downtown! Now, you still need density and access, as well as strong anchors. This line would have Clackamas Town Center and Washington Square as anchors, both employment centers, and would go through several growing residential areas. It may not work in the short-term, but it has long-term potential.

    As far as ROW on Powell and Division goes, there might be some opportunities for exclusive lane sections and queue jumps, especially farther east, but it’s hard to see them putting in a busway. The areas with available ROW for a busway are precisely where congestion is not as problematic and thus a busway would not be needed. I would love to see the stupid frontage roads repurposed, but that would be a major capital project, and the point of BRT is to save capital costs! The area west of 39th is too narrow to do much with, but with some queue jumps, bus bulbs, and signal priority, the bus could certainly improve over today. The use of the transit-only bridge will also help immensely, especially if the bus can avoid the whole 99W interchange.

  21. EngineerScotty
    November 14, 2011 at 5:41 pm Link

    Reading TriMet’s comments on the “I-205 proposal”, it was indicated that it might stretch all the way to Beaverton. It’s interesting to look at this year’s recommendations for potential future Frequent Service enhancements: (I say this with a grain of salt; as longtime TriMet observers will no doubt point in that many TIPs past have said the same thing as this one, with not much action being taken).

    Tier 1 improvements:

    * Line 76 from Beaverton to Tualatin. (Right now, the portion between Beaverton and Tigard, which multiplexes with the 78, is essentially Frequent Service for much of the day). I assume that the 78 would then end at Tigard, though I’d love to see it combined with the 62, and something else running between Murrayhill and Washington Square, preferably continuing to downtown.
    * Line 31 from Milwaukie TC to Clackamas. This one makes tons of sense, especially when MLR opens. (If and when the replaced Sellwood Bridge opens; extending it across to the westside would be even better!)
    * Increasing frequencies on the 4, 8, and 15 (all of which are already frequent service).

    Tier 2:

    * The 54 between Beaverton TC and Raleigh Hills. I’m kind of assuming that the 56 west of here would become the 54; and the 56 would then just run between Washington Square and Raleigh Hills, if not combined with some other route. (If they do this, why not through-route the 57 and the 54?)
    * The 33 all the way to Clackamas Community College–right now it shortlines and is only frequent to Oregon City TC.
    * The 35–which will go away or be truncated should LO Streetcar be built. (In which case, combine it with the 78?)
    * 31 out to 152nd (I assume along Sunnyside, replacing the 155–a good idea if it happens).
    * Frequency improvements on the 12 and 33.

    Tier 3:

    * FS on the 12 to Sherwood–right now it shortlines, ending at King City. (It also shortlines at Parkrose, being non-frequent east of there; fixing that isn’t on the list however).
    * The 79 (relevant to this post).
    * The 87. Given that this is a peak-hour-only, no-weekend-service bus line, I find it VERY interesting that this is being considered for frequent service.

    A while back Portland Transport looked at the possibility of BRT in the Tualatin/Beaverton corridor, as an alternative to expansion of WES (or building of parallel light rail service). We’ve also looked at possible commuter rail for Clackamas-Tigard. The notion that a BRT line might run from Beaverton to Clackamas is interesting, to say the least. (My preference would be for two intersecting lines–one Clackamas to Sherwood, and one Beaverton to Wilsonville; Tualatin Station is a pleasant enough place to transfer; and I’m assuming any BRT would be frequent service).

    The interesting question for an “I-205 BRT”: Would it run on the freeway, and feature freeway-adjacent stations? Or would it run on the current 79 route (and on Borland Road between Wilsonville and Tualatin), thus getting closer to where the riders are, and avoiding freeway traffic? And how does it cross the Willamette?

  22. zefwagner
    November 14, 2011 at 5:53 pm Link

    According to folks at Metro and TriMet I have talked to, it would definitely run on I-205, but might take a couple detours into towns (like in Oregon City), or maybe freeway stations in some places. It would essentially be express for large portions, like the part of I-205 outside the UGB.

    Is traffic really that bad on that stretch of I-205? My impression was that most congestion was on I-5. The Metro HCT Plan indicates that congestion was not a major concern on this corridor.

  23. Reza
    November 14, 2011 at 6:01 pm Link

    @EngineerScotty

    I share your skepticism about the seriousness of the “Depressed Transit Only” proposal, I’m just pointing out the need remains for HCT along Powell. The TOD potential along such a line would be enormous along this route, especially west of 39th as you state.

    When I mean “creative engineering”, I mean maybe, *maybe*, considering a tunnel for part of this route. Think about it. You already have the UP corridor that takes you to Powell and 17th where PMLR will go. Like you said, this is the densest stretch of the corridor and little ROW to build on. Consider a tunnel for ~30 blocks to get you to east of Foster, where there the service lanes left over from pre-Mt. Hood condemnation of properties south of Powell begin. From there, the line could run at-grade, but in a *SEPARATED* ROW for the rest of the corridor to I-205. It could still be at-grade, but it lessens the impacts to reliability that result from running in mixed traffic. Again, this proposal is mode-agnostic.

    The problem is that I still see the need for demolition of many properties along Powell to fulfill this vision. In essence, finishing the work that ODOT started on that stretch 40 years ago. But it seems like we’ve come to this in Portland. We’ve used all the politically-expedient corridors (Banfield, I-205, Oregon Electric to Westside, UP to Milwaukie). Time for some hard decisions.

  24. EngineerScotty
    November 14, 2011 at 6:06 pm Link

    Traffic is routinely TERRIBLE on I-205; particularly on the stretch in question. Between Stafford and West Linn, it narrows to four lanes; and there are far too many commuters who live in Clackamas County and work in Washington County. (I used to be one; and moved to Beaverton many years ago in large part to avoid this commute).

    The transit options between SE and the West Side are generally bad; with the river being a major impediment.

    Between Tualatin and CTC, the major “required” stations I see are:

    * Tualatin Station
    * Meridian Park
    * Wankers Corner/Stafford in the future.
    * Willamette
    * West Linn
    * Oregon City TC
    * Strawberry Lane/Johnson City
    * Clackamas area
    * CTC.

    The interesting question is Gladstone. A strict freeway routing, with a stop near High Rocks, would miss much of Gladstone, as well as the Oregon City Shopping Center. A diversion into Gladstone at 82nd Drive would slow down the trip, but serve these destinations. (One wonders if it would be possible to rehab the old trolley bridge across the Clackamas, and turn it into a one-lane bus bridge… probably not.)

  25. Douglas K.
    November 14, 2011 at 7:21 pm Link

    Any reason why Oregon City TC couldn’t be relocated to Oregon City Shopping Center? Put it at the south end of the parking lot, and the Oregon City Amtrak Station is about four or five blocks away as the crow flies, but creating a viable pedestrian connection there would take some work.

    The BRT could just get off the freeway and stop at the shopping center to connect to many other buses — and at that point, it wouldn’t be much of a detour to take the line through Gladstone along Arlington Street.

  26. Doug Allen
    November 15, 2011 at 10:05 am Link

    Just to set the historical record straight, the frontage roads along Powell between Chavez and 82nd are not from the Mt. Hood Freeway property acquisitions, but from the widening of Powell in the latter 1970’s, after the Mt. Hood Freeway had been cancelled. At the time there were isolated properties still owned by the State, acquired for the Freeway, along Powell, but the frontage roads were built deliberately as part of the Powell widening to provide parking for businesses, and to create a buffer between the road and remaining residences. Most of the property was acquired at that time.

    It would have been easy to design a light rail line as part of the project then, but it was not a visionary project.

  27. David J.
    November 15, 2011 at 10:30 am Link

    TRIMET
    I write in strongest behalf action on Bus Rapid Transit in highest priorities in Portland Metropolitan area. I urge TRIMET consider BRT – articulated bus with hybrid electric-diesel vehicle like RapidRide (Seattle, WA) and EMX (Eugene, OR) using code letter on BRT routing code for A, B, C, D, and E lists like RapidRide.

    A. In addition, I want BRT runs on Southwest Corridor – Barbur Blvd from downtown Portland to Sherwood – via stop at Hamilton Station, and others.
    B.Freeway BRT – I-205 from Clackamas Town Center MAX to Beaverton, OR included Oregon City, Tualatin, Washington SQ Mall to Beaverton TC, connecting with Clackamas Town Center Mall to Washington SQ Mall.
    C.Powell-Division BRT – Powell towards to 92nd up to Division to eastbound to Gresham.
    D.57-58 connects becomes to “D” serves to Downtown Portland to Forest Grove via Beaverton TC.
    E.Freeway BRT – Gateway TC – East I-84 to Troutdale 102, 122, 148, 162, several other stop stations in east from 162 to Troutdale.
    F.East Stark BRT- Gateway TC –East from Gateway TC to Gresham TC included important stop at Mall 205 on Washington East and 102nd.
    G.Optional BRT – Halsey-from NW to NE replaces of bus #77.
    H.Freeway BRT – other routing in Portland Metro.
    I.Optional BRT – using bus #76 or #78 from Beaverton TC
    I want Green MAX expands to OHSU to PCC Sylvania to Tigard TC via tunnel. I write in that I do not like slow motion MAX lines in Downtown Portland, adds that I disagreed MAX runs slowly and two-cars set. I want four-cars set MAX in the subway in Downtown Portland.
    I noticed your transit buses used running on I-84 or I-205, or I-5 for out of service? I saw that bus operators can access for out of service on their choice route from and to the yard garage? Do buses operators can choice for going to start off and on assign their route?
    Please inform to http://www.thetransportpolitics.com for adding BRT proposal on their list.
    Please inform me about electric trolleybus, BRT, Freeway BRT, Non-BRT articulated and capital projects from Milwaukie MAX next to what?
    I strongly continually support for electric trolleybuses restoration in Portland replaced of dismantled last 1958. It would be having non-BRT or BRT or whatever TRIMET has plan. I ask TRIMET releases information me about electric trolleybus at request in next FY 2013 or beyond FY 2015 or long term planning? Let me know.

    In addition, I urge 57-58 connects becoming to bus #57 uses non-BRT articulated until replaced with BRT at later or Bus #57 uses articulated bus from Beaverton TC to Forest Grove options.

  28. ryan
    November 15, 2011 at 7:37 pm Link

    “They are inefficient”

    Compared to local routes, maybe. Not compared to having another 50 or 100 SOVs on the road for each express bus.

    “they promote sprawl (and often chiefly serve park-and-rides)” “the suburban sprawl market” “sprawlville”

    Yeah we get it you don’t like houses. Most people do.

    “entitled yuppies at the endpoints.”

    Are you serious? Have you ever ridden suburban buses anywhere in the US? There’s some yuppies, sure…and there are legions of maids, secretaries, clerks, teachers,
    service workers, retail workers, college kids, and just plain average people.

    “it has astonishingly low farebox recovery”

    Eh so do most forms of public transit.

    “If you want good transit service, live in places where the land-use makes good transit service reasonable to provide.”

    Deny good service to the burbs and watch the politcal support for transit fall as well.

  29. EngineerScotty
    November 15, 2011 at 11:16 pm Link

    Me: “They are inefficient” (they being express busses).

    ryan: Compared to local routes, maybe. Not compared to having another 50 or 100 SOVs on the road for each express bus.

    I’m speaking mainly in terms of farebox recovery; a full express bus can be more environmentally friendly than a single run of local due to fewer stops. But a local that runs all day will replace more auto trips than a peak-only express route.

    me: “they promote sprawl (and often chiefly serve park-and-rides)” “the suburban sprawl market” “sprawlville”

    ryan: Yeah we get it you don’t like houses. Most people do.

    Nothing to do with “houses” per se–there are plenty of examples of neighborhoods with lots of single-family homes which are still transit-usable. I’m not proposing that everyone be herded into apartments for their own good.

    me: “entitled yuppies at the endpoints.”

    ryan: Are you serious? Have you ever ridden suburban buses anywhere in the US? There’s some yuppies, sure…and there are legions of maids, secretaries, clerks, teachers,
    service workers, retail workers, college kids, and just plain average people.

    To answer your question, yes. I live in Beaverton and use TriMet. I’m well aware of who rides the bus around here. Express bus–at least as TriMet and C-TRAN define it– tends to mainly cater to office workers who work Monday-Friday day shifts in downtown (C-TRAN also runs expresses to specific major empoyers like OHSU). By itself, its not much useful to anybody else.

    I don’t object much to express busses which run parallel to full-service lines. The 99 and the 94 don’t bother me too much, as they duplicate the 33 and the 12. The 92 and the 96, OTOH, don’t have corresponding local service, which I think is unfortunate.

    me: it has astonishingly low farebox recovery

    ryan: Eh so do most forms of public transit.

    Express bus is worse, unless you have a rigorous system of distance based fares–on systems where you mainly pay per trip rather than per mile (such as TriMet), express routes with fewer boardings per run (and frequently a deadhead run in reverse) tend to have a lower FRR than do well-used local runs. (Of course, the worst performers are things like the 84).

    me: “If you want good transit service, live in places where the land-use makes good transit service reasonable to provide.”

    ryan: Deny good service to the burbs and watch the politcal support for transit fall as well.

    I agree that this is a balancing act. Some urban critics of TriMet wonder why it serves the ‘burbs at all (and often object to MAX on those grounds); an opinion that I consider unfortunate. The more comprehensive the network, the more valuable the service. First class service to low-density neighborhoods is not cost-effective to provide, but there plenty of examples of highly successful suburban runs. (The 76 and the 57 come to mind as two obvious examples out here in my neck of the woods). While I would love it if the 62 was frequent service, I can certainly understand why it isn’t on the list of candidates for service upgrades.

    Express bus can be a useful tool in expanding transit patronage, but there are some riders who seem to view it as an entitlement–and more than a few who, for whatever reasons (good and bad), won’t consider other types of service. Well-designed local runs (that run the entire service day, and seven days a week) are generally more useful things to provide than peak-only services; and well-designed high capacity and/or rapid transit services are often even more valuable than that.

  30. Adron
    November 16, 2011 at 9:13 pm Link

    Funny. Erik H, Al M, Chad, and several other transit nerds were kicking around where BRT should go over 2 years ago at a Transit Beer – the routes I mentioned were Powell and 82nd. Erik had mentioned the Tigard concern. I gotta say, Tigard isn’t likely to actually get any light rail in the next decade or so, but it could definitely use some replacement of the #12 with some on-street BRT. That would be huge for the area. Maybe they could tone down the absolutely horrendous suburban development out toward Tigard then too! …well, one can wish.

    As for the articulated buses, I gotta say, after almost 2 years of riding these horrible buses up here in Seattle, Portland was smart to get rid of the blasted things. They make the 40ft buses look and feel like luxery liners by comparison. That’s with the fact that King County Metro has soft seats on all the buses and their articulatedes are still crap!

    BUT, I tell ya what, Mercedes makes an articulated bus that is freaking sweet. Like the RapidRides up here in Seattle, but way nicer.

    The other problem though, with any articulated 60 ft bus is that it is fundamentally important to keep road quality higher than anything you’d roll a 40 ft over. At LEAST 50% of the ride quality is solely the crap road quality up here. It’s horrible.

    But I digress, that is awesome that TriMet is starting to dig around some other prospective options. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can ride a BRT route in PDX one day. :)

  31. Erik H.
    November 27, 2011 at 8:17 am Link

    November 14, 2011 2:01 PM
    EngineerScotty Says:

    Erik,

    I don’t get it.

    You spill lots of digital ink

    If you are so concerned

    If you are concerned

    I’m sorry–and I’m going to get a bit blunt here, but I’m rather unsympathetic to suburban commuters who whine

    Apparently, this little piece of “wasted digital ink” is wasted as well:

    http://portlandtransport.com/rules.html

    Passion and robust debate about ideas are what Portland Transport is about. Passion directed at individuals is not, and will be deleted promptly. Please confine your remarks to policy, opinion and data.

    Hyperbole can help make a point

    While you are welcome to disagree, you are not welcome to be disagreeable. Please treat fellow participants with the respect you would give a guest in your home.

    EngineerScotty, you are a “Moderator” are you not? I suggest that you follow your own rules, delete your own post, and treat me like you’d treat a guest in your own home – and treat me with the respect that you demand of me. Your lengthy tirade only shows that you are disagreeing with me for the sake of disagreement, rather than a constructive review of what I had written (and in fact most of your points don’t even do that).

  32. EngineerScotty
    November 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm Link

    Erik,

    I do try to avoid crossing the line into uncivil or insulting speech. OTOH, asking for clarification on someone’s viewpoints is within bounds; and some of what you have said in the past strikes me as a bit self-contradictory. I’m not suggesting at all that you are being disingenuous in any way, just trying to reconcile calls for luxury amenities on one mode (or a subset of a mode) with objections to perceived luxury amenities on another mode.

    The part about “unsympathetic to suburban commuters” wasn’t directed to anyone in particular. There is a demographic, however, that won’t ride transit unless they have an uninterrupted one-seat ride between their origin and destination; just like there’s a significant demographic that won’t ride a bus (no matter how rapid or decked-out the service) but will ride the train. (I get annoyed with the latter demographic as well, although it wasn’t reflected in the post in question). To what extent transit agencies ought to cater to either of these groups of riders, both of which can easily switch to cars, is an interesting and important question to consider.

  33. al m
    November 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm Link

    OCCUPY TRIMET!

  34. David Johnson
    May 30, 2012 at 7:54 pm Link

    Yep, I endorsed BRT serves from CTC to Beaverton TC includes Washington Square Mall, it was good connection with CTC Mall; Tigard TC; Powell-Division, and SW Corridor – Barbur, too! I had long-endorsed for Electric Trolleybus in long term, so please someone takes my placed of electric trolleybuses at recommendation. Let me know! Thumb up! Tell Shared people who endorsed electric trolleybus and Bus Rapid Transit voices at requests! Thank you for helping me at your best hearts! Good Luck! David

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