Archive | September, 2008

Portland Streetcar Loop Visualizations

I recently worked with the Portland Streetcar organization to develop 3D “visualizations” of the new loop route on the eastside, to be shown at public meetings and made available online.

The project is a good example of how geographically-oriented data from many sources is converging to help people better-understand their communities and better-communicate ideas.

Using the affordable tool Google Earth Pro, which automatically incorporates aerial images from Metro and building shapes provided by a community of 3D artists, and the addition of eastside 3D building shapes and height data provided by the Bureau of Planning, and with the flourish of a 3D streetcar model provided by a volunteer artist, the project was able to be completed in a quick time frame.

Here are the finished videos on YouTube:

Southbound:

Northbound:

The quality from YouTube is not good… the embedded viewers are too small to read the text, and when viewed full-screen the resolution is too low to see the detail, but it does make widespread distribution simple.

For those who want to see the videos more clearly, the original “high definition” files may be downloaded directly from the Portland Streetcar web site for viewing in Apple’s QuickTime player. Warning: These files are well over 500MB each.

The technology still has a long way to go, but it’s amazing just how much can be done today… if you’re willing to put up with Google Earth’s penchant for crashing (and crashing while saving!), arcane user-interface, and horrifyingly over-complicated 3D object placement process when paired with Google Sketchup… garbled output images, and an output video which can’t be opened in most professional editing software and which requires 3rd-party conversion software… technology is the future!

Disclosure: In the past I’ve worked on projects for the Portland Streetcar on a strictly volunteer basis. This project was considerably larger in scope beyond my usual commitment, and I was compensated for hours worked beyond the volunteer agreement, as well as reimbursed for direct expenses.

Buses to return to transit mall; Public input on routes sought.

As mentioned in the open thread, TriMet has now released it’s preliminary plans for returning buses to the Transit Mall. A series of public meetings will be held to gather input from riders. For full details, visit:

http://www.trimet.org/meetings/portlandmall/index.htm

A compilation of the comments from the open thread follows the break:

September 20, 2008 12:36 PM
The Smooth Operator Says:

The most recent edition of Trimet’s employee newsletter had the following announcement. I thought that it would be of interest to everyone here.

Possible May 2009
bus service changes

You may see Customer Service staff
handing out notices on your bus
this month. They’re alerting riders
to meetings about possible changes
to downtown bus service after the
Portland Mall reopens in May 2009.
This is one step in TriMet’s multi-
phase process to discuss and receive
comments on this topic. Additional
meetings will be held after a draft
plan is developed.
The meetings will take place at these
Portland locations:

9/30, 6-8 p.m.: Multnomah County
Building, 501 SE Hawthorne Blvd.

10/8, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.: Portland
State, 1825 SW Broadway, Room 296

10/8, 6-8 p.m.: Grant Park Baptist
Church, 2728 NE 34th Ave.

10/9, 5:30-7:30 p.m.: Boys and Girls
Club, 5250 NE Martin Luther King Jr.

Highlights of the changes under
consideration include:

Line 6 would no longer run in
downtown Portland, but would
extend to downtown Milwaukie
along the existing Line 70 route.

Line 10-NE 33rd Ave. would run
between NE Portland and Lloyd
Center with increased frequency.

Line 10-NE Harold would become a
cross-Mall route.

Line 14 would either return to the
Mall or become a cross-Mall route.

Lines 17, 35, 36 and 54/56 would use
Harrison both ways instead of Clay
and Market.

Other ways to submit comments:
Email comments@trimet.org or
phone 503-962-5806.

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September 20, 2008 7:44 PM
Jason Barbour Says:

Big thank you, Smooth Operator!

The meeting times/locations are nowhere to be found on the TriMet website (at least as far as I know), even though I first heard of them at the Portland Mall Citizens Advisory Committee meeting earlier this month. The only other place I’ve seen any notice of these at all is a printed notice at some downtown bus stops, but they only list two of the meetings (and different ones on each notice/route).

I even asked at Pioneer Square customer service on Sept. 16th (the first day I saw one of the notices)… they hadn’t heard anything about it!

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September 20, 2008 11:14 PM
Bob R. Says:

There was a preliminary presentation on this given to the last Streetcar CAC meeting as well… I don’t know when they plan to roll out their main public outreach process on this.

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September 21, 2008 11:19 AM
The Smooth Operator Says:

When I posted this earlier I didn’t have time for any comments, so I will now

Line 6 would no longer run in
downtown Portland, but would
extend to downtown Milwaukie
along the existing Line 70 route.

This makes me wonder if they plan on combining the two routes…

Line 10-NE 33rd Ave. would run
between NE Portland and Lloyd
Center with increased frequency.

Line 10-NE Harold would become a
cross-Mall route.

Line 14 would either return to the
Mall or become a cross-Mall route.

About time!! The second ave turn-a-round and using two bridges(Hawthorne in/Morrisson out) has been confusing for customers.

Lines 17, 35, 36 and 54/56 would use
Harrison both ways instead of Clay
and Market.

This seems to be adding to the downtown “transit grid” system. Trimet has shifted away from concentrating all of their onto the transit mall.

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September 21, 2008 12:16 PM
Jeff F Says:

The Smooth Operator Says:

This seems to be adding to the downtown “transit grid” system. Trimet has shifted away from concentrating all of their onto the transit mall.

This may be a result of a need to reduce the number of buses on 5th & 6th running in conjunction with MAX trains (and autos).

Passengers on Line 14 would certainly be happier with a change in the route; transfers from the few stops on 2nd Avenue to any other route are pretty bad, not to mention that the bus doesn’t get near the busier portions of the CBD.

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September 21, 2008 12:51 PM
Bob R. Says:

The unfortunate routing of the #14 on 2nd was always temporary during construction. The question now, as the #14 returns to normal crossings of the Hawthorne Bridge in both directions, is whether the downtown portion will be cross-mall, or will return to running up and down the mall.

Personally I’m leaning in favor of running on the mall… it seems like there’s little point in taking such a popular route all the way downtown and then having a huge portion of those users transfer to access the mall. The riders should definitely be surveyed, but I’m betting a majority of downtown arrivals would prefer a one-seat-ride along the mall.

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September 21, 2008 2:24 PM
Jeff F Says:

Bob R. Says:

The unfortunate routing of the #14 on 2nd was always temporary during construction. The question now, as the #14 returns to normal crossings of the Hawthorne Bridge in both directions, is whether the downtown portion will be cross-mall, or will return to running up and down the mall.

Define “always”. From an operational standpoint, there have been some planners who like it just the way it is.

The problem with running the 14 down the Mall is this: http://trimet.org/schedules/w/t1014_1.htm

That’s a LOT of trips every day, which means a lot of buses adding to the mix on the Transit Mall. Running it across the Mall allows better transfers without all the extra traffic.

I’m not saying that’s the way it will happen, or that it’s the best solution for passengers, but it can’t be ignored, either.

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September 21, 2008 2:52 PM
Bob R. Says:

Define “always”.

Well, I’m going from what TriMet staffers have said at various meetings, from the Mall CAC prior to relocation, to the last presentation at the streetcar CAC.

There may indeed be planners within TriMet who like the #14 as it is today, but the official line has always been that this is a temporary relocation, and that TriMet doesn’t like running it on the Morrison any more than the passengers do, and that it will definitely return to a Hawthorne-bridge-only route and the only question remaining is whether to have a mall alignment or a cross-mall alignment downtown.

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September 21, 2008 6:54 PM
al m Says:

This makes me wonder if they plan on combining the two routes…

I’m sure the 70 riders would love that!

I used to love that route and drove it many sign ups when I used to work at Center street.

Trimet should publish a book:

“How to ruin a good route in one easy step”

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September 25, 2008 12:18 AM
Jason Barbour Says:

TriMet just posted notices of the meetings on the main .org website and the Portland Mall website as well. Finally there’s official online notification of the meetings!

And, there’s information on the changes they’re considering making.

TSO: This makes me wonder if they plan on combining the two routes…
Al: I’m sure the 70 riders would love that!
That’s exactly what they’re considering! And what’s now line 70 would go Frequent Service no less! (IMO: that’s nice, but what about 76? 70 is nowhere on the list of routes for frequent service, at least as of the FY 08 TIP. I never heard whether or not the FY 09 TIP has been finalized or published.)

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September 25, 2008 12:49 AM
Matthew Says:

The #70 is pretty close to a frequent service route already, it just needs a few more buses in the evenings/weekends, (it already runs 4 times an hour in the midday.) And while yes, they should do the #76 first, if it isn’t going to cost very much to make the #70 into part of 6 and therefore a frequent service route, then I really don’t see a reason not to… But even if it wasn’t frequent service, it is a great idea, people have been complaining about lack of North/South lines that don’t go into downtown, and here is one…

My feeling about the #14, is that it should take over the downtown portion of the #6, i.e. run up to Goose Hollow and back. With the frequency of that bus, single seat rides into the mall isn’t all that important because the transfer times in both directions would be very short, and running to Goose Hollow would make crosstown, (i.e. West to East) travel realistic… (Neither of the options presented are that.)

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September 25, 2008 9:13 AM
al m Says:

Why don’t they just put a streetcar on the entire six line and leave the 70 alone.

Your Opportunity to Shape Transportation Policy

Metro is seeking applicants for citizen positions on the Transportation Policy Alternatives Committee and the Regional Travel Options subcommittee:

The Transportation Policy Alternatives Committee (TPAC) and Regional Travel Options (RTO) Subcommittee are currently seeking community representatives to serve two-year terms beginning January 2009. Three seats on TPAC and one seat on the RTO Subcommittee are currently vacant.

TPAC provides technical input to the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT) that, in turn, makes recommendations on transportation planning issues to the Metro Council. The RTO Subcommittee makes recommendations to TPAC, JPACT and the Metro council on programs that provide alternatives to driving alone in our region; including carpool, vanpool, transit, walking, biking and telecommuting programs.

Both committees seek individuals with strong interest or expertise in transportation related issues and who can commit to attending regular meetings held during normal working hours.

You may apply online at: http://www.oregonmetro.gov/index.cfm/go/by.web/id=28550. To receive an application form by fax or mail, call Kelsey Newell at 503-797-1916 or send e-mail to kelsey.newell@oregonmetro.gov. Applications are due to Metro on Friday, October 17, 2008 by 5 p.m.

Another iPhone Transit App

There’s another entrant into the iPhone real-time display space: Portland Transit.

The route/stop browser is not as strong as on the PDX Bus app mentioned earlier, but it does offer a GPS-based “stops near your location” feature.

And this one costs $1.99… But it has a much nicer icon :-)