Portland to Astoria via Tillamook

Thanks to the correspondent who writes that you can get from Portland to Astoria via TriMet, the Tillamook County Transportation District and the Sunset Empire Transportation District purely on scheduled transit.

But the real news is that you can plan the entire trip on Google Transit. That’s the value of standards and open data. Let’s look forward to even more transit systems getting their data published in GTFS format so Google – and other developers – can give us even better tools!

23 responses to “Portland to Astoria via Tillamook”

  1. Google Maps still needs to be updated for such things like incorporating the new Green and Yellow Line routes down the Transit Mall.

    Also, having already known that Amtrak runs to Astoria with better running times and cheaper fares… Just over 2 hours from Portland Union Station to downtown Astoria for $18, I’m more inclined to take Amtrak.

    However, what Google Maps gives us is a chance to see how a route works like you pointed out above. I can research where I would have to make my transfers, something that is very difficult to find on transit websites.

  2. can get from Portland to Astoria via TriMet, the Tillamook County Transportation District and the Sunset Empire Transportation District purely on scheduled transit.

    I’d like to see somebody actually do this, and then blog the whole event, from beginning to end.

    Of course the adventure is in the taking of the transit and not in the destination itself.

  3. Portland to Astoria is also possible using Columbia Co. Rider from Downtown Portland to Westport, then using Sunset Empire Transit District to Astoria. Using this route will also take someone all day to get there (and as far as I can tell no same-day return), so I obviously haven’t done this yet.
    And I’ve already well-commented that the Portland-Astoria Amtrak Throughway Bus only runs once a day, leaving Portland after 6 PM.

  4. We did Portland to Pacific City entirely on mass transit this summer. MAX to Sunset Transit and caught the Tillamook bus there. (The Tillamook bus starts downtown but we had a baby with us and didn’t want to risk being stuck in traffic.)

    The seats are smaller than a 40′ TriMet bus but still comfortable. The bike rack was full, and so were most of the seats after the stop at 185th. They take reservations, I’m not sure if you can reserve a bike rack spot.

    One tip: if you’re transferring at Tillamook, pack a lunch. We were really glad that we did because there are only snack machines at the transit center, though there are restaurants and grocery stores within a few blocks if you didn’t mind taking longer.

  5. Jim Howell and I ran bus service from Portland to Tillamook (two round trips, one extending north to connect with Greyhound in Seaside) for six years starting in 1984.

    We doubled the level of the prior Greyhound service, and ended up with four times their ridership. We sold out to Raz, who cut the service, then dropped it. I am glad to see that a comparable level of service has come back.

    We charged $10 one way and $19 round trip to Tillamook, with no subsidy. We also took bikes back then, made route deviations to pick up elderly people, and offered a discount on the Tillamook taxi service.

    It was disappointing to see the service that we had built up get trashed, but bigger business can’t always be as efficient as a small operation. We had hoped that economies of scale would allow Raz to improve the service. Now it sounds like the subsidized service is taking off, which is great.

  6. To more directly address Chris’s post, I should add that our Tillamook service schedule in the 1980’s was listed in Russell’s Guide, as well as at every one of our stops, including TriMet’s Cedar Hills Transit Center. We belonged to the National Bus Traffic Association, so people could buy a through ticket to Tillamook, Manzanita, etc. from anywhere in the US, and when they called Greyhound information, they were told about our service and what the schedule was.

    Google is filling in for the human-powered information systems that have disappeared, but they don’t sell through tickets yet. Maybe Ticketmaster could fill the void?

  7. Wish C-TRAN would join Google Transit.

    [Moderator: Commenter’s last name reduced to initial in this thread per commenter’s request.]

  8. Maybe Ticketmaster could fill the void?

    I’m not sure we want that, given their desire to add service charges, convenience fees and the like.

    But one of these days I’d like to get around to making a map/chart showing all the intercity transit connections that exist, because there are a lot. You can even get up to Canada for cheap.

    Also, does Columbia County really provide through service? I thought it looked like they have two separate services.

  9. Over 8 hours to get there, with 5 transfers?
    You could walk 1/3 of the way there in that amount of time, ala the Portland to Coast Walk.

    But it’s only 6 1/2 hours if you start in downtown Portland and only 4 transfers.

    I’m willing to have some time wasted to be driven rather than driving myself, but my limit really is for it to take only twice as long as driving there.

    Makes far more sense to take the Amtrak bus, which gets you there from downtown Portland in about the same time as driving yourself. In both cases, you don’t have much choice of departure and arrival times.

  10. I really think there would be good demand for intercity service in Oregon, beyond what Greyhound or Amtrak Thruway service can do. Of course, I suppose some of the lesser known local bus services might not like this competition either. There are a lot of people who simply do not have a car, or for other reasons don’t drive and would want to get from one town to another. There also could be burgeoning use by recreational travelers who might choose to not drive to their destination, but would want to transport equipment.

    In Newport recently I saw some brand new buses parked at the depot for the Valley Retriever Service, so I guess they are still doing OK. Yet how would one get from Newport to Baker City,(OK, not the best example) except through an elaborate transferring process and several tickets? Besides the Interstates (which have bus service and parallel service from Amtrak) there are some US or state highways that could be plausible, well traveled routes: US 101, 97 and 26 come to my mind. If it had to be subsidized I would rather see this intrastate service supported than the elaborate MAX schemes being proposed. The cost would only be a fraction, would save a lot of auto miles, and benefit areas other than the Portland METRO region.

    The MAX proposals in the Portland area could be handled by express bus services.

  11. Which MAX proposals could be handled by express bus services?

    If you mean full-fledged BRT in its own right-of-way, then yeah; that could offer similar performance to MAX, albeit at about a third of the passenger capacity per vehicle. Given the size and likely ridership of the routes, and that acquiring the ROW is a huge chunk of the price tag, the arguments for that over MAX are dubious.

    If by “express bus” you mean limited-stop service that runs on the regular streets, even granting the thing signal-pre-emption–no, that is not going to be an adequate replacement for an LRT line.

    At any rate, I don’t see the point in discussing medium-haul inter-city bus service (which I agree Oregon could use more of) in opposition with MAX. The two things have little to do with each other, other than possibly competing for funding–and given that one is capital-intensive whereas the other is not, I’m not sure that they even are competing for the same pot of money.

  12. In regards to express bus routes I was thinking of the MAX lines that METRO is merely proposing at this point. Even they acknowledge that it is unlikely that all would be built…yet does that mean nothing should be done there? The Portland Tribune article of Aug. 20 described four tiers of priority routes. It is online at:

    The Troutdale-Damascus (Tier 4)route is estimated at $2.6 Billion. Why not buy a dozen express buses (articulated, double decker, whatever) for $10 million? How many people are going from Troutdale to Damascus? They have Clackamas TC to Washington Square for a mere $2.8 Billion (Tier 2). I know the yuppies will jump on that one, for sure. They have Powell BV. to Gresham for only $1.6 billion.(Tier 1) I thought we already had a MAX to Gresham?

    In sum total there are 15 possible routes and a total price tag (not figuring inflation) of $20 Billion.

    Well, at least we agree about the inter city buses. I think the need for this could grow, especially as baby boomers retire and might not feel like taking the VW bus across the state anymore.

  13. I think the need for this could grow, especially as baby boomers retire and might not feel like taking the VW bus across the state anymore.

    I’d prefer for a mid-range (not worth flying, nor using local transit) to just ride a train or bus then (if needed) rent a car after the trip. If there’s one trip a day, it’s not going to work for me usually, but if they can get it up to regular service in a reasonable amount of time I’d probably go to the coast more.

    For a group of four people though, I’ve found it’s actually fairly cheap to rent a luxury car and drive, otherwise it’d be nice to have better bus service around the state. And I’m not a baby boomer by any means, that title’s more appropriate for my parents.

  14. At this point, only the unbuilt blue routes (LO streetcar, Milwaukie) and the green routes (Powell, Barbur, and the “oops maybe WES wasn’t such a good idea” line between Beaverton and Wilsonville) are likely to get much time from planners; the exception would be if “use it for this route or not at all” funding becomes available. Of the yellow routes, a Milwaukie extension to Oregon City (either via Gladstone alone 99E, or southeast to Clackamas and then along I-5, which can also extend the Green Line) might be likely, simply because it would improve the performance of the Milwaukie line by a tremendous amount. (Otherwise, its another yellow line or LO streetcar–not long enough to be as useful as it ought to be).

    Remember, the westside line was originally going to be done in two phases, only going as far west as 185th or so. But more $$$ was found, things happened, and the line got done to Hillsboro in one phase. (Didn’t hurt that the tunneling problems delayed the first phase, I suppose…)

    Beyond that, I don’t see any other routes being built for quite a while.

  15. The killer for this bus connection is the 4-5 transfers you must make to get from Portland to Astoria. I’m only turning 50, but I choose a direct route with AS FEW TRANSFERS AS POSSIBLE, and am willing to pay extra for it.

    As you get older, the last thing you want is to be hopping from bus to bus with your luggage, finding the appropriate place to wait, sitting around on some transit bench exposed to the weather and passersby.

    As we get older, we worry more about being targeted for mugging, we don’t tolerate changes in weather as well, and we don’t pack as lightly as a 20 year old with just a tiny knapsack.

    In this case, it would be worth getting a hotel room in Astoria for an extra night to take the Amtrak bus back vs. making 4-5 additional transfers.

  16. What is the trend? I think younger people would opt for taking a bus somewhere—aren’t there proportionately fewer of them who possess cars. The retiring baby boomers are a large demographic trend—maybe they are tired of driving? I know it doesn’t make much sense to take a family vacation, covering something like a few hundred miles, in anything other than the family vehicle. But family demographics are changing rapidly.

    And, there are a large number of people in smaller towns who don’t own cars! And they may just as well want to go places other than Portland. Don’t people in Newport think of going to Bend to ski? Of course they do. I have observed Hwy 101 in Lincoln City and other towns to be almost like a freeway. On peak days there is a lot of traffic, going both ways.

    The MegaBus has been working in some regional centers of the US. I would like to see a profit comparison between them and Greyhound. I was on a Greyhound in Minnesota and Wisconsin and it was at least half empty.

  17. My partner and I recently took a vacation and traveled from our home in inner SE Portland to Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast. We traveled via TriMet, Amtrak Thruway Bus, Greyhound’s(?) Valley Retreiver, and Lincoln County Transit. The trip did take much longer than a car trip, but we found it generally pleasant and only occasionally frustrating.

    We are deliberately car-free, so we are accustomed to the extra time investment that bicycle/bus/train travel requires. This trip took less than 9 hours: from our front door to the door of our motel room, including . 3 of the 9 hours were spent laying over in Albany and Newport. The total cost for our 2 adult round trip tickets was $146.

    Of course, we wished the trip could have been shorter and less expensive, but we appreciated being able to nap, read, listen to music and podcasts, knit, and just stare out the window.

    Taking a trip such as this (via mass transit systems) highlights the intracity transit options in a destination community. Generally, Lincoln City is an auto-dependent community; we did not rent a car while we were there, and chose to see the sights exclusively on foot. As pedestrians, there were many things that we could simply not get to comfortably. Lincoln County Transit does offer some limited-frequency intracity service, so that could have expanded our options considerably.

    Truthfully, arriving back in Portland was a relief. TriMet is not perfect, but the superlative mobility it offers is refreshing.

  18. Don’t people in Newport think of going to Bend to ski

    I believe the Valley Retriever actually does go directly from Newport to Bend. However, Greyhound sadly cut their coastal route a few years back that went from Portland and stopped in Newport, among others.

    I would like to see a profit comparison between them and Greyhound

    Good luck, because neither of them are independent public companies. But keep in mind that MagaBus does things on the cheap, often not using stations or having ticket agents.

  19. The total cost for our 2 adult round trip tickets was $146.

    That’s a killer for me. I can go rent a 10,000 mile old Jaguar sedan for under $146 for two or three days, including mileage. I’m happily car-free by choice, but I’ll rent one for a trip that will take over 4-5 times less time and cost less that way.

    If we can get HSR working from Portland to Salem and Eugene I could see bus service working better, making Salem and Eugene hubs for buses to the coast or Bend (as examples), but every time I’ve looked at taking a bus to the coast the option of asking a friend with a car to tag along, or just renting one if needed, is much more convenient and cheaper.

    In the long run (I doubt it would be feasible now) two loops seems like it might work well. Do them both bidirectionally, one for Portland/Astoria/Tillamook/Lincoln City/McMinnville, and one to serve Salem/Lincoln City/Newport/Florence/Eugene (and the reverse of each.)

    With four buses/drivers they should be able to do each loop and reverse loop once per 8 hours. (5 1/2 and 5 3/4 hours estimated drive time, add in stops/traffic and it’s still easily under 8 round trip, 4 each way at most.) It seems that it would have value to a larger part of the state than just Portland, since it would allow travel from Florence to Astoria with just a single transfer.

    If we get HSR serving Portland/Salem/Eugene it seems like a fairly easy way of adding to the service area at minimal cost, while providing both Portland residents as well as many outside the metro area with a benefit as well. Maybe we can even get some of the casinos (or other interested businesses like hotels, restaurants, chambers of commerce, etc) to throw in a bit for operational costs if the state works to serve them as part of the routes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *