Student Project Addresses Washington Park Access and Circulation

This is a project of a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning student at PSU:

Washington Park Transportation Survey

If you are concerned about transportation issues at Washington Park, have had trouble getting there or getting around, or would just like to provide your thoughts, you are invited to complete this Washington Park Transportation Survey. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and your answers will remain confidential.

An Open House will also be held on Tuesday, April 21, 2009 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM in the Skyline Room at the Oregon Zoo. There will be opportunities to express concerns and help develop solutions to transportation issues at the Park. Please drop by at any time.

This survey and upcoming Open House are part of an Access and Circulation plan being developed by Portland State graduate students in partnership with the Washington Park Alliance. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Brendon Haggerty at

To take the survey, please click here:

Thank you for your time!

12 responses to “Student Project Addresses Washington Park Access and Circulation”

  1. i really wish the washington park zoo train “washington park run” could be treated as a seperate entity from the zoo and have its own entrance from the street (so as to not require zoo admission to ride the train) and then operated primarily as a transportation link between the two main parts of the park.

    with the zoo train becoming independent of the zoo and operating as the main transit link between the two parts of the zoo the washington park bus shuttle could be discontinued and the 63 rerouted. and this way max riders could easily get to the japanese garden and rose garden via the existing train without having to pay zoo admission considering they may not want to go to the zoo. people parked in one parking lot at washington park could also just leave their car parked and then go visit the other part of the park via the train.

    this wouldnt require any new track, just moving the zoo station near the zoo entrance/parking lot/max station so that it can have its own entrance from the street and so that you dont have to visit the zoo to ride it. nothing would change with the rose garden/japanese garden station.

  2. I’d rather see a standard parking fee charged in Washington Park. Say, $5 per day in the summer, $3 per day the rest of the year. Use the revenue to improve trails throughout the park and to support year-round operation of the Washington Park Shuttle.

    If the Portland Streetcar ever runs up Burnside to NW 24th (as some concepts have proposed), I’d recommend taking it into Washington Park. It could easily follow an existing walkway from Burnside to the Rose Garden area, although it probably would need to be regraded a bit. Put the final stop outside the Tudor-styled park restroom near Park Place. It would bring the Streetcar within an easy walk of the Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, reservoirs, Lewis & Clark Memorial, and the Holocaust Memorial.

  3. There needs to be a hefty fee for bicycles using the park and beating up the trails, and a charge for carrying them on transit to get there too. It is about time bicyclists pay their own way instead of expecting other taxpayers and motorists to provide a free pass. Property owners in Portland already pay property taxes for parks, including for the motor vehicle routes through the park, and therefore parking should be and remain free.

    Additionally, I agree with Jon about the Zoo Train and having a separate entrance on the zoo end. I have ridden it starting from the Washington Park Station after hours on private group charters where we only stopped at the zoo, but did not actually go in and roam around, or we just toured the train’s maintenance facilities. The train is actually one of the money makers for the zoo, but too often the money that should go for railroad maintenance is used to subsidize and/or support other parts of the zoo’s budget.

    By the way, the steamer, which is the most popular locomotive, is 50 years old this year originally being built for the Oregon centennial celebration in 1959. The boiler has been completely rebuilt at least once since then along with some changes to the front pilot which included adding a standard coupler. The Zooliner is actually older being built in 1958 as a replica of the General Motors Aero Train that ran on several railroads including as the City of Las Vegas on the Union Pacific. One additional car has been added since the Zooliner was originally put in service.

  4. Bicyclists are property owners too, Terry … thank you for pointing out that gas taxes aren’t paying for these roads in the park.

    Bicyclists also happen to be a large contingent among the private _volunteers_ who donate their own labor to maintain the natural trails in and around Washington Park and Forest Park.


    Regarding the idea of reconfiguring the zoo train to provide general transportation between the Rose Gardens and the Zoo areas without needing zoo admission, I’m all for it.

  5. I own property in the City of Portland, Terry, on which I pay property taxes. And I ride a bicycle as well as drive a car, thus I’m paying fuel taxes as well. So I’m pretty certain I’ve paid my way to use Washington Park. No one in this thread suggested that bicycles be permitted on Wash. Pk. trails, and bicycles do far less damage to the roads (if any) than autos. Last time I rode through Washington Park, which was Saturday last, the roads were looking pretty bad in spots. Guess the freeloading motorists need to be paying their way, eh?

  6. Right now, the Zoo train is essentially an excursion train/tourist attraction. It runs on narrow-gauge rails, its cars certainly don’t meet ADA standards or numerous other regulatory requirements that I would think would apply to public transit, etc. COULD it operate separately from the Zoo, or would doing so subject to all sorts of regs with which it currently doesn’t comply?

    Of course, then we’d also have to call the Zoo station a “transit center”. :)

  7. i dont think there is any reason the zoo train cant still be considered an “excursion/tourist attraction”, its essentially the same operation just with a moved entrance that just happens to make it more of use to non-zoo patrons. in some ways its like the willamette shore trolley now, despite being an excursion line, it more or less operates as a transit line now (has a schedule and links the streetcar to dwtn LO) but no one uses it for transit now. but there is nothing stopping one from using the WST as transit now (or at least during the summer operating season).

    i’m not certain but i think there is a special ADA car on the zooliner.

  8. I believe that the train itself is ADA accessible because there are two, maybe three cars, which have ADA lifts installed.

    However – the Washington Park station, IIRC, is NOT accessible because the trail leading to the station is too steep.

    The existing railroad is not suitable for any type of operation other than transit service; the Washington Park station would have to be relocated (at great expense, since the new station would be about 50-75 feet lower in elevation than the old station); the Zoo station would have to be relocated out to somewhere in the parking lot (again, at a different elevation as much of the parking lot is higher than the current station) – and plus dealing with the loss of parking (sorry, MAX fans, the vast majority of Washington Park visitors drive and park and the parking lots are known to fill up within just a couple of hours of the zoo’s opening).

    As for comparing the Zoo Railway to the Willamette Shores Trolley…all that’s needed to convert the WST to a real transit line are some vehicles that can withstand daily operating pressures rather than historic artifacts, a few boarding platforms, more frequent departures (i.e. every 30 minutes) and a passing track or two. (Of course, the Cities of Portland and Lake Oswego want to spend hundreds of millions to literally rebuild the line rather than do something cost effective…)

  9. Speaking about wanting to spend money for the streetcar extension—this was from the April 2 Lake Oswego Review referring to a decision by some of our local leaders to fund the DEIS locally instead of getting a federal grant:

    “The agreement between local jurisdictions, authorized by Lake Oswego City Council March 24, launches the study process sooner than planned by taking contributions of $150,000 from Lake Oswego, $1 million from Portland and $850,000 from Clackamas County to fund it.

    Lake Oswego will also loan $1.5 million to TriMet to lead the study, to be repaid by TriMet with $300,000 in interest by Sept. 30, 2012. The city of Portland will also shift $972,673 from a project aimed at inner east side sidewalks to offset the cost of funding the study now.”

    It’s interesting to note the rush to get the project through, avoiding minimal FTA review in the process. The sooner the extension is built, the more obvious that it won’t be an improvement in service for most riders.

    Also interesting is where the money is coming from – and not coming from. There’s no money from Multnomah County in which lies much of the ROW yet a hefty share from Clackamas County with very little ROW. And almost a million dollars from inner east side sidewalks? Priorities, priorities.

    The full piece is at:

  10. all i’m suggesting is that the zoo train modifications get looked into by some appropriate official. there certainly may be complications that make it unworkable. but at least from my perspective modifying the train as described would really be of use to me when i visit the park.

  11. Just for the record, I believe modificaions have been made so there are accommodations for at least one wheelchair passenger on both the Zooliner and the steam train. I am not sure about the third train set.

  12. Terry Parker wrote: one wheelchair passenger on both the Zooliner and the steam train. I am not sure about the third train set.

    The trainsets are so frequently interchanged anymore; it’s quite common to ride a train with the steam locomotive, the Zooliner’s consist and the rear car from the third trainset (the #5 engine).

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