No, I’m not talking about travel speeds. As Portland currently has no BRT, there’s nothing to make faster (other than existing local bus service, over which any decent BRT would be an improvement).
Instead, I’m talking about rolling out BRT faster.
Right now, Portland has two BRT (or potential BRT) projects that have advanced passed the line-on-a-map-in-a-planning-document phase: The Southwest Corridor, and the Powell/Division project. (There’s also the Fourth Plain BRT in Vancouver, being planned and built by C-TRAN).
A few other ideas have been discussed in significant detail; probably the most prominent of these a proposed BRT line along TV Highway between Beaverton and Forest Grove (or at least Hillsboro). TV Highway has been the subject of a corridor study which included BRT as a recommendation (and it’s been on numerous planning maps since), but there is no project to actually build out BRT in the 57 corridor.
Powell/Division’s project timeline calls for it to begin service in 2020. A firm timeline for the SWC doesn’t exist yet–the start of the DEIS phase has been delayed–but given the scope of the project, we’re looking probably at a decade or more before service opens. Major capital projects, particularly those that seek Federal funding, simply have long lead times.
But Portland transit riders can benefit from improved bus service today. (Improved rail service as well, but this article is focused on the bus system).
There’s probably not much to be done about big capital projects–the politics and red tape involved is not likely to go away. But are there ways to bring BRT on board without large capital outlays?
Some thoughts, after the jump.