Southwest Corridor: Transportation “Bundles”

The latest report from the Southwest Corridor steering committee is now available, and it is interesting, to say the least: The committee is considering several project options:

  • Light rail to Tigard
  • Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to Tigard
  • BRT to Tualatin
  • BRT to Sherwood
  • Something called “hub and spoke”, which appears to involve no major investments in mass-transit, but may involve improvements to local service in the corridor.

In the case of the BRT and LRT options, no choices have been made regarding specific alignment, stops, quality (in terms of keeping transit vehicles away from traffic) of the alignment, or any other such particulars.

And here’s the interesting part. The committee has produced an extensive list of improvements to the local street, bikeway, and pedestrian networks which “correlate” with these five options; these are the “bundles”. The total price tag of all the projects is many hundreds of million dollars, and doesn’t include the cost of building or operating transit improvements; expect that only a subset of these things would be eventually built. Rather, this is a list of possibilities. Not all proposed projects correlate with each transit option. Many of the proposed ideas are things that have long been on planners’ wishlists, and would make sense independently of any major transportation improvements.

A note on a somewhat controversial bit of capital project financing: if you can convince the FTA that a project element is part of a transit project, you can get matching funds for it, even if the project element itself sn’t transit-related. There were complaints a while back about bikeway improvements along I-205 being included in the Green Line project, even though a parallel bikeway isn’t a necessary component of light-rail; specifically it was wondered why “transit” dollars were being spent on something that didn’t directly benefit TriMet patrons. Likewise for the CRC funding package–by bundling LRT with the CRC, the FTA’s matching contribution will likely be more than it would be if the project were simply expanding LRT across the Columbia on a dedicated transit bridge, with no improvements to the freeway. (This is one big reason that Clark County LRT opponents will not likely get their wish to have a new bridge sans light rail; taking out the MAX doesn’t really save any money).

This list is here.

42 responses to “Southwest Corridor: Transportation “Bundles””

  1. I was just thinking about SW Corridor. It seems the way this should have been approached is to identify key destinations, then figure out how to link them. My list for destinations would be: OHSU, Hillsdale, Barbur Corridor between Burlingame and West Portland, PCC, Kruse Woods, Bridgeport Plaza and maybe Tualatin. So what ever gets built would leave Barbur and head for PCC via Capitol Hwy, then by some means (tunnel?) get to Kruse Woods…a huge office complex, then to this huge Bridgeport mall, then maybe down the WES alignment to Tualatin. Does anyone actually go to Tigard?

  2. Related to this, all the local jurisdictions are preparing land use plans to help guide the investment decisions. Portland’s piece of this is the Barbur Concept Plan, for which I’ve been a member of the Community Working Group for the last year or so. The plan will go to the Planning and Sustainability Commission on February 26th.

  3. Does anyone actually go to Tigard?

    Well let’s see, it’s home to the largest suburb in the southwest corridor. Home to the largest shopping destination in all of Portland. The largest source of jobs in the SW corridor. Come on out to Tigard Lenny, let’s show you around. There is a lot more in Tigard than you imagine.

  4. What I find very interesting about Bridgeport Village in Tigard is what a charm it is for me to go there from NW District in Portland when the 96 is running, and how it would take a year and a day when it isn’t.

  5. Busway from downtown to Tigard, with branches to Sherwood & Tualitan – great. Light Rail to Tigard with transfers to BRT branches – sucky, because of transfer penalties.

  6. Effectively serving OHSU would require a light rail tunnel. That’s not to say it needs to be part of the SW Corridor project; I can see extending the Green Line through a tunnel that terminates under OHSU. But I don’t think BRT is the optimal choice; OHSU will need a tunnel, and if you’re spending that much, you might as well put down rail.

    If we go with BRT in the SW Corridor, we’ll probably need to skip OHSU and possibly PCC as well.

  7. Does anyone actually go to Tigard?

    I lived out there for several years and while at PCC-Sylvania I’d go there if I needed something; they have restaurants, shopping centers, movie theaters, a library, police department, etc.; the 2011 U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimate says 49,011 people call Tigard home. It once had a Frequent Service bus route run through it (12-Barbur) and an express bus where the first/last stop before Downtown Portland was in Tigard (95X). So yes I’d say people go to Tigard.

    (begin sarcasm) Does anyone go to Swan Island for that matter? (end sarcasm)

  8. You do know you can go over the hills along the barber capitol hwy corridor by putting a stop near the current ariel tram that serves ohsu, which I think the orange line will.

  9. No consideration of a new WES line from Tigard through Lake Grove and Lake Oswego to a cross-platform transfer to Orange MAX in Milwaukee? (Or continuation down the west side to a cross-platform transfer to the Portland Streetcar in South Waterfront?) There’s some low hanging fruit waiting to be picked…

  10. I like Douglas’ idea of having the Green Line go a half mile into the West Hills to a station underneath OHSU. That seems like the optimal way to serve the institutions on the hill.

    If it is not meant to be a through line and is in a tunnel, there could be a fairly steep hill up to the station, allowing the elevator to be shorter.

    So far as the SW corridor is concerned, the whole thing is far too thinly developed to warrant much of anything. What would be better would be to take a very deep breath and say “WES is the wrong technology” and spend enough money to take the Red Line as far as Tigard TC, deviating in some way to include a station within the grounds of Washington Square.

  11. I was just thinking about SW Corridor. It seems the way this should have been approached is to identify key destinations, then figure out how to link them. My list for destinations would be: OHSU, Hillsdale, Barbur Corridor between Burlingame and West Portland, PCC, Kruse Woods, Bridgeport Plaza and maybe Tualatin. So what ever gets built would leave Barbur and head for PCC via Capitol Hwy, then by some means (tunnel?) get to Kruse Woods…a huge office complex, then to this huge Bridgeport mall, then maybe down the WES alignment to Tualatin. Does anyone actually go to Tigard?

    Well, Lenny, >I

  12. No consideration of a new WES line from Tigard through Lake Grove and Lake Oswego to a cross-platform transfer to Orange MAX in Milwaukee?

    I thought – once – that it’d be an awesome idea.

    But seeing just how badly TriMet mismanged WES and as a result we are having to chop and slice bus service to make up for that grand error in transit planning, there is no need to add one more inch of “WES” commuter rail. In fact, I’ll celebrate the day when TriMet finally torches the WES cars (or sells them to some dummy willing to pay for them.)

  13. ” You know, Lenny…the world doesn’t revolve around you, your light rail trains and the only bus line you find it fit to ride (the 85 bus).”

    >>>> Say it ain’t true Lenny, you DO ride another bus line on occasion. don’t you?

  14. C’mon everyone, this was a good data-driven discussion until it went to flat-out personal attacks.

    The only commentary I have on the SW corridor maps is the lack of project details. However it seems the hub and spoke option seems to have the most appealing projects.

    Major question I still have is if the feasibility of the following has been studied (assuming the TriMet financial crisis is solved):

    • Increasing what’s currently the 94 to all-day/7-day service as a limited-stop route. (Think the previous 94 that only stopped at designated stops, but running all day every day.)
    • East/west bus service on Tualatin-Sherwood Rd. between said cities.
    • East/west bus service on Durham Rd. between King City and Tualatin Park-and-Ride (or possibly extending the underperforming 37-Lake Grove or 36-South Shore).
    • Moving the 76 to Hall Blvd. between Washington Square and Tigard and finally making it a Frequent Service route.

    No consideration of a new WES line from Tigard through Lake Grove and Lake Oswego to a cross-platform transfer to Orange MAX in Milwaukee?
    You probably mean Milwaukie; as we have the Amtrak Empire Builder between Portland and Chicago, which also stops in Wisconsin. :)
    And I’ve heard about the Milwaukie/Lake Oswego(/Tigard/Tualatin/Sherwood/etc.) commuter rail proposal for probably longer than the CRC. Oddly enough over time the CRC has gone further than it.

  15. ” However it seems the hub and spoke option seems to have the most appealing projects.”

    >>>> Hub and spoke sucks. Too many transfer penalties. Direct BRT service to Tigard, and then on to Sherwood & Tualitan is the best bet.

  16. Due to the geography of SW, with the resulting lack of street grid and major destinations not being laid out in a linear fashion, a multicorridor solution is called for (not necessarily LRT or BRT for each corridor). LRT going at least as far as Tigard with an underground OHSU stop would be fine, but is a fiscal pipe dream at this point. The beauty of a multicorridor solution is that it can be implemented in phases, with the least expensive lines implemented first if necessary.

    One new corridor could be a frequent-service bus line linking downtown Portland and Tualatin via Barbur – Multnomah Blvd – Oleson – Hall – Durham – Boones Ferry. Major stops would include Burlingame, Multnomah Village, Garden Home, Washington Square, Tigard TC and Bridgeport. Looking on a map, the route isn’t that circuitous, and heck, it could be extended as far as Sherwood.

    Hopefully pedestrian facilities are indeed a major component of whatever packages are finally implemented… I don’t think I need to pontificate about the abyssmal lack of sidewalks in SW.

  17. Dan makes the best point that I couldn’t find words for- without massive, massive construction it’ll be next to impossible to dedicate a singular HCT line to all of SW. I think we’ll have to start with the bus service we already have before we can dedicate a gigantic rail or even BRT project to it.

    I agree that OHSU is a destination that needs serving, and even though I’m definitely against future heavy expansion in capital projects, I’ll play theoretical for awhile. Extending Max under OHSU wouldn’t be the worst idea, but only if it was ending in a subwayesque station under the heart of things, around the entire complex with the VA, OHSU, Doernbecher’s, Casey, etc. I also believe there should be a circulator bus around Marquam Hill, even if infrequent, in order to make sure the whole loop can be connected (I.e getting from Doernbecher’s to VA Hospital.) Due to the geography, it’s impossible for line 8 to be completely efficient.

    If we want to serve communities after OHSU, I’d say we build off of the Orange Line and serve a stop by the tram. The problem would be that the tram is expensive unless you have a pass (but perhaps TriMet could bargain the price down somehow?) and the tram itself would only end near OHSU as opposed to the rest of the Park. (The circulator route would be useful here, and I believe there is a sky bridge- still, less than convenient.)

    Really, though, no matter how you slice it- a rail line will be a mountainous, highly difficult task. The geography would require billions in construction. Whether people like it or not, BRT is the best option overall. It can hit the destinations with more ease and with less construction. Still, HCT will not come easy.

    I like the idea of incorporating MAX along the WES line to Tigard with a Veer into Washington Square (via Hall? Moving the stop at Hall/Nimbus?) would be a pretty good idea. Stops at Metzger and Progress could also be a possibility. I still support switching the Green Line to Beaverton/Tigard as opposed to the Red.

    If BRT exists, it needs to start at SoWa, and make its way to Hillsdale, perhaps via Johns Landing or Hamilton Court. Ideally, a route via Capitol to Multnomah would be ideal, but given the narrow layout of the road between Bertha and Taylors Ferry, it’d be near impossible with some massive redesign. I’d instead Veer it towards Burlingame/Barbur TC Via Bertha/Barbur and then to PCC Sylvania via Capitol/49th. From there, Kruse is a relatively straight shot and then Tigard. It could even fork at Kruse with a route going towards Tigard/Washington Square/Murrayhill or to Tualatin/Bridgeport/Sherwood. Again, it’d require work but would not be impossible or as hard to execute as rail.

    I do think the bus system in SW needs major improvement. There should be frequent Service on Capitol Hwy (with an extension via Kruse Pkwy/Bonita to Tigard), Hall Blvd, Pacific Hwy, Hwy 43 and Farmington/185th Ave via the 44, 76, 12/94, 35 and 52. There needs to be a reliable corridor between Lake Oswego and Tualatin, and there needs to be insight on how such a route would gain ridership as opposed to the 37. Otherwise, service in general needs a boost.

  18. If BRT, PCC could be served by a branch: run those downtown to PCC shuttles on the BRT-way until you get to Capitol & Barbur, and then they just detour and run on-street for a mile on Capitol. Its not like there is any traffic down there anyways.

    It doesn’t really make ANY sense to run light rail to PCC; there aren’t any other dense uses on its side of the freeway to justify construction, and students have little preference of light rail over buses – they will generally ride either, since by default they are poor.

  19. No consideration of a new WES line from Tigard through Lake Grove and Lake Oswego to a cross-platform transfer to Orange MAX in Milwaukee? (Or continuation down the west side to a cross-platform transfer to the Portland Streetcar in South Waterfront?) There’s some low hanging fruit waiting to be picked…

    That would make a helluva lot more sense than attempting to extend WES to Salem! Continue the loop to Gresham in 50 years?

  20. No consideration of a new WES line from Tigard through Lake Grove and Lake Oswego to a cross-platform transfer to Orange MAX in Milwaukee? (Or continuation down the west side to a cross-platform transfer to the Portland Streetcar in South Waterfront?) There’s some low hanging fruit waiting to be picked.

    The low hanging fruit is taking the existing WES right of way and turning it into an extension of the MAX Red Line from Beaverton TC.

    No more WES please.

    No more WES please.

  21. Personally, I’d rather see the Willamette Shore trolley track used for a rapid streetcar line — in contrast to that sluggish, inefficient overpriced project that was being considered.

    And if Tri-Met were to extend MAX from Beaverton TC to Tigard, I’d suggest Hall Boulevard, Washington Square, Greenburg Road and Tigard Street rather than the WES right of way. It is, after all, still an active freight line.

  22. No consideration of a new WES line from Tigard…to…Milwaukee?…There’s some low hanging fruit waiting to be picked…

    At $17 per boarding ride, please identify the six heavily used bus routes you’d like to eliminate to pay for it.

    Let’s see…would I rather ride the 12 bus that gets me directly where I (and several thousand other riders) need to go, or should I have to ride WES (during weekday rush-hours, only!) to Tualatin, then transfer to another train, then transfer to another MAX…only because it’s a train and trains are better than buses?

  23. I like the idea of incorporating MAX along the WES line to Tigard

    Doing so would have massive wetland impacts along Fanno Creek in multiple locations, require a massive overcrossing/viaduct near Washington Square to serve the mall (or do what WES does, and totally skip past one of the largest destinations in the region), have significant impacts on various businesses who are alongside the track, would require bulldozing the brand new WES parking lot at Tigard TC, reworking the TriMet and ODOT funded Portland & Western railroad yard, require the government to buy out EVERY single property owner along S.W. 74th Avenue so that the road can be abandoned and used for the MAX line, require the region’s wastewater treatment plant to be rebuilt, put a MAX line atop a recently restored wetland in Cook Park, require a new bridge over the Tualatin River, and then a massive rebuild of Tualatin’s core street grid as Tualatin Road would have to be eliminated south of the Tualatin Community Park to make room for MAX.

    Gee, for all that, we could buy limos for everyone, complete with driver. Or, more sensibly, equip TriMet with a 100% brand new bus fleet made up only of buses that are hybrids, pure-electric, or hydrogen fuel-cell, and replace those buses every 12 years – many times over.

    Or, abandon WES, force the freight that moves along the line back onto trucks, abandon the railroad west of Beaverton (turn T.V. Highway into a freeway?!!)…

  24. If BRT exists, it needs to start at SoWa

    South Waterfront is not a destination. There is no reason to end BRT there unless your goal is to discourage ridership by forcing additional transfers.

    BRT can easily be implemented right from downtown Portland to King City, using the existing Barbur Boulevard/99W, by adding strategically located skip-queue lanes and signals, improving bus stop locations, and traffic signal enhancements (signal synchronization/timing). $20 million…maybe $25 million, and that includes the cost of 15 hybrid-electric articulated buses, AND every stop to have full-on bus stop improvements identical to a Portland Streetcar stop.

    Or, we can build 1/3rd of a mile of otherwise useless and worthless light rail track.

    OHSU can be easily served by the existing 64/65 bus lines (possibly truncate the 64 to Barbur TC); service to the South Waterfront is still maintained with an easy transfer to the Streetcar at S.W. 6th and Market.

  25. @Eric,

    Wow, MAXPocalypse Now, eh?

    It’s clear that an additional single-track bridge could never be built across Fanno Creek without causing the north Polar cap to melt that very year! And the fact that there are already three tracks between SW 5th and halfway between Allen and Denny is proof that the P&W right of way along 217 is just not wide enough for two MAX tracks.

    You are correct, there would have to be an elevated viaduct crossing 217 somewhere north of Hall and you might have to take a couple of houses at the end of Crestwood Drive and two and the end of Homestead Lane in order to move the sound wall over. The Hall Bridge would need to be rebuilt on the east end to replace the slanted berm with a vertical support wall, but otherwise, the tracks would fit.

    Then you’d have to duck under the Scholls Ferry to 217 northbound on-ramp, take a few spaces from the lightly used parking lot between Schools Ferry and 217, go under Scholls Ferry and the 217 northbound off ramp and you’re at a very sweet spot for a station just west of the parking garage. Put a walkway under the road into the garage and you’ve got all-weather access to the mall.

    From there it’s under 217, Cascade and the existing track, rising up to the south of the existing track within the rail right of way.

    There’s no doubt that between here and Tiedeman Road the right of way is quite narrow. This might require a single track section for the LRT, but it wouldn’t be any longer than the one at the other end of the Red Line. The freight track would have to be moved over.

    At Tiedeman the LRT could be diverted to the old Oregon Electric right of way that stays alongside Tigard Street which is wide enough for two tracks once it passes Allied Building Products.

    The P&W would keep the refurbished trackage.

    It’s true that the Tigard TC would have to be rebuilt to accommodate separating the freight track from the necessary two LRT tracks, but there is enormous potential for TOD there, so the investment in taking a couple of the small buildings for the station would be returned many fold.

    One thing to remember about using LRT for the Beaverton to Tigard section is that there is the possibility of a wye at Beaverton, allowing rush hour trains from Tigard to “turn left” and give a one-seat ride out to the Tech corridor.

    You can chill on SW 74th. It only makes sense to push the train to Tigard, not Tualatin. Too few people ride it to Tualatin. Tigard is more central.

    Grant, some sort of quality bus route needs to be provided to Tualatin, and it’s not easy to do. The streets are too few and too congested.

  26. @Eric,

    Oh, and dude, there are already two tracks along SW 74th for most of the way that the P&W parallels it. I knew about the problem of the Tualatin River bridge and the lack of right of way through Tualatin town. That’s why the post said

    “spend enough money to take the Red Line as far as Tigard TC”

    Be more gentle to that straw man!

  27. I didn’t mean ‘literally end at SoWa’. I meant that it should be the first destination in SW (after downtown) in order to serve both SoWa and OHSU via the tram. Seems like a cheaper, easier two-birds-one-stone scenario.

    And saying there’s nothing in SoWa/Johns Landing is just stupi, er, not very knowledgeable. Johns Landing is a relatively dense inner city residential/commercial area, and SoWa is heavily dense and active.

  28. Swan Island is a special place…10,000 employees in about one squre mile; two North American corporate HQs; and transit service 18 hours per weekday; $5M in new bike/ped/transit access.
    Let’s not make the same mistake in SW Corridor as was made in the 217 corridor with WES, an undercapitalized effort that produced a second rate product that relatively few people use.
    If the object is “High Capacity Transit,” in the SW Corridor, then the investment must have the potential to attract many new transit riders and then be able to serve them at a reasonable cost.
    Regardless of vehicle type, HCT must have its own right of way to insure reliability; no half measures. To attract new riders it needs to serve both already busy destinations like OHSU, Kruse Woods, and PCC and locations like Hillsdale with the potential for intense development. And to carry many new riders in a cost effective manner, it needs to have vehicles capable of hauling lots of riders with a single operator…the “cost center” for transit. If a proposal can’t do these things, then we would be better off just putting more money into the entire network of FS bus lines and call it good.

  29. I’m intrigued by your plan for the Red Line Anandakos.

    I almost like it better than a Barbur Blvd alignment. The thing with Barbur is that LRT doesn’t make sense here without significant tunneling, because it would miss all the major destinations.

    Red Line extension down 217, as long as it hits all the destinations, seems like a winner. It’s a direct trip to downtown, I don’t know how long it would take, certainly not more than 45 minutes, plus it serves the people that go from Beaverton to Tigard or whatever.

    The key to any SW plan is destinations. There’s no ridership if the transit doesn’t go where the people go.

  30. Or if it doesn’t help spur dense transit oriented development. Freeway alignments make this problematic. The Red Line should go south from Beaverton, but as far away from 217 as possible with a tunnel under WA Square.
    Barbur could work if TOD nodes at Burlingame, 23th, 30th and Capitol Hwy are zoned and supported. Hillsdale has shown interest in dense development; Multnomah has resisted same. OHSU is an obvious stop; the next place with lots of current transit riders is PCC Sylvania.

  31. Lenny, I was looking over the transit plan document:

    I found it pretty interesting with all the street improvement info. IMO this stuff is just as important as the transit.

    I like the idea of slipways on Barbur. On the blvd Beaumarchais in Paris this works beautifully. It allows Barbur to continue its function as a highway, while providing a Main Streetesque pedestrian experience. It’s perfect for an urban ribbon like Barbur.

  32. If its good enough for Paris, its good enough for me, but can you image Barbur lined with 5 story plus apartment buildings a la Paris? Interstate got a “road diet” but still struggles to develop; scale is critical…the relation of ROW width to building height. Narrower streets are more likely to be friendly to all modes. Portland has no four lanes streets that really work as urban, mixed use, multi-modal corridors.
    Am reading a fine historical novel by Fuechtwanger, “Proud Density,” in which M. Beaumarchais plays a large role on behalf of the American Revolution.

  33. @Lenny,

    If you can find a decent right of way south from Beaverton to Tigard other than the P&W please share it with us.

    Hall Boulevard would appear to be an excellent candidate, except that it’s already developed, mostly with nice single family homes. Owner-occupied single-family homes are the number one NIMBY voting block in America (yes, I realize that the houses don’t vote….)

    I just don’t think that you’ll get the development along Hall that would make it worthwhile to incur the much greater costs to run the line along it. The P&W ROW is already flat. Currently the 76/78 share route runs as a Frequent Service bus and gets a good business, but most is “through” in that it goes at least as far as Washington Square.

    Now there may be some value in searching for an alternative route south of the Washington Square station. I tried to find something that would both serve a station at Greenburg and 217 to provide direct access to the Lincoln Square development (and the NICE BIG undeveloped parcel between it and the freeway!), but there is no easy way to get back to the P&W for the Tigard TC.

    Tunnelling for 3/4 of a mile underneath a residential district doesn’t seem likely to fly.

    And I really don’t see why you need a station directly underneath the mall; that’s a real budget buster. It makes sense for an airline terminal or a city center mall. But everyone who goes to Washington Square walks a little way (at least) to get to a door. Transit riders will too.

  34. A Red Line extension south would have to be at Beaverton’s urging, not mere consent; zoning need only change at station areas. Property owners there could reap a nice harvest in seeing single family homes converted to 5 story apartments. Transit needs to get as close to key destinations as possible, closer than the far edge of the parking lot. When I arrived at CTC on the Green Line I thought, in Germany they would have built a station right underneath.
    I expect that lightrail down the WES alignment is a long, long, long way off.

  35. There’s no need for a MAX tunnel under Washington Square. The mall is pretty close to the freeway. Just put the light rail line along the east shoulder of 217. If the MAX station and transit center were right outside of Nordstrom, it would be about 200 feet from the MAX platform to the door. The buses would be even closer.

  36. One idea I’ve mentioned before–right now, there are TWO TriMet facilities at/near Washington Square; the current TC on the northeast side of the mall, and the Progress Park and Ride in the little triangle between Scholls Ferry, Hall, and 217. Perhaps combining them in some fashion would be useful? (Regardless of whether or not LRT or other high-capacity transit ever serves the mall, the WES Nimbus stop notwithstanding…)

  37. “Lenny Anderson Says:
    If its good enough for Paris, its good enough for me, but can you image Barbur lined with 5 story plus apartment buildings a la Paris?

    What the h— for? Maybe you can go inflict your vision somewhere else. There’s no real advantage in it.

  38. @Douglas,

    Please read the long post above. That’s exactly where I proposed to put it.


    That little Park And Ride you mentioned must be the little lot I was going to nibble from in the long post. It would get a lot more action if the Red Line stopped a couple of hundred yards from it. Yes, it would require a walkway along the tracks to underpass Scholls Ferry and the northbound off-ramp, but it’d be used, for sure.

  39. @Anandakos: You can chill on SW 74th. It only makes sense to push the train to Tigard, not Tualatin. Too few people ride it to Tualatin. Tigard is more central.

    Don’t tell me to chill, the official Metro planning suggests MAX will be built to Sherwood or Tualatin. Never mind that really big wildlife refuge in the way – when it comes to building MAX, no wetland is safe – not Beaverton Creek, not Johnson Creek, not the Tualatin River.

    (But for everyone else, if you even take a kid’s Tonka Truck to a wetland expect to be hauled off to FCI Sheridan for 10 years…)

    As for your other suggestions, I hear Knotts Berry Farm is looking for a good roller-coaster designer. Up and down and left and right…have you ridden Seattle’s lovely light rail system? I don’t get motion-sick easily, but their line to Sea-Tac is notoriously effective at spewing vomit, from going up one bridge, down another, up another…

    The problem with 217 (and any transit line built in the same corridor) is that it is neither an origin and destination pair. You either go TO 217, FROM 217, or THROUGH 217 – but not start AND end on 217. So any transit line MUST have transit connections designed as part of the project – not as an afterthought (which is TriMet’s cup-of-tea). What good is a brand new MAX line, if your destination is, say, Lincoln Center – but TriMet has to axe the 76/78 to pay for the operating expenses and the “ChinaCard” interest payment? What good is the MAX line to Washington Square, if you live in Murrayhill and the 62 falls prey to the light rail cancer? TriMet already blew it by eliminating all of the “additional service hours freed up by the elimination of the 5I line”; eliminate much of the westside extra service, and broke its promise to enhance bus service for WES (the ONLY addition being additional 76 line service on Sundays, while cutting Sunday 45 service and reducing service on all Tigard lines, including the total elimination of the 95 route.) All you’ve done was shift the single occupant motor vehicle usage from intercity use, to local street congestion so people can drive their car from their driveway to the TriMet owned and operated parking lot – what is the point in that?

  40. @Erik,

    Whew! Did somebody take away your Tonka Truck this morning?

    I’ve read posts on PT stating that MAX carries roughly half the passenger boardings in the Tri-Met system. I don’t personally know how to verify that, but lets say it’s 25% overstated and that MAX only carries 40% of the boardings.

    During the base period of service there are about twenty trains running on the Blue Line, about 15 on the Red Line, and 12 or so each on the Yellow and Green Lines. (That’s calculated from the fact that it takes two hours for a Blue Line train to go from Cleveland Avenue to Hatfield. Since the trains run every 18 minutes there are eight stretched out along the route in each direction, plus one at each end laying over. And then I “rounded up” to add another pair so you can’t claim I’m understating the costs.

    Same sort of estimation for the other lines.

    So the total number of base service trains running at any given time is about 60.

    The other 60% of boardings in the system are carried by all the other bus lines running. There are thirteen lines identified as having “Frequent Service” which are temporarily reduced to once every twenty minutes. I doubt there are any bus lines which require a full two hours to run in one direction, so none of these lines have twenty vehicles assigned to them. But probably half have a dozen. So there are certainly a greater number of FS buses running than MAX trains at any given time, except perhaps the late evening.

    The Tri-Met “Frequent Service” page says 57% of bus trips are taken on FS lines. So that means that there are at least a three or four dozen more buses running on non-FS lines during the base service period.

    I do understand that rail operators get paid more than coach operators do. But just do the math: 60 trains are being operated in the base service and probably 100 to 120 buses are being operated at the same time. So the rail operators have to get paid twice what a coach operator does just to make the labor cost equal. And the trains require less energy and maintenance per mile than do buses.

    You could probably get away with replacing the Yellow Line with 18 minute service using articulated BRT style buses on Interstate Avenue pretty much one for one. Unless you had pretty aggressive signal pre-emption, it would take longer to complete the run, so maybe it would require 16 buses instead of 12, but close enough.

    Ditto the Green Line; “flyer” stops along I-205 and I-84 it wouldn’t be that different from the Green Line MAX stations.

    Maybe you could even make a close to one for one swap on the Red Line, again with artics to get capacity. The base service Red Line trains only stop at Washington Park, Sunset and BTC on the west end. Sunset and the BTC could relatively easily be served by buses. You’d lose the zoo stop but there is bus service to it, at least from downtown.

    But the Blue Line would be a fustercluck. Since the old Oregon Electric ROW diagonals across Washington County, a bus to serve the same set of destinations would have to zig-zag through the county, and it would take forever!. You’d need at least 30 buses to match the service that the Blue Line provides.

    And of course, at the rush hour the service hours would explode, because all the trains are full, full, full, and they hold a lot more people that even an artic with no seats. You’d need at least double the number of buses to replace the 70 or so trains running in the peak.

    So, how can you say that “MAX robs from the bus service”.

    Now yes, the MAX infrastructure was expensive to build and the trains cost plenty!. But that’s capital expenditure, and Los Federales would not have come calling with wads of cash for YABS (yet another bus system). And they don’t contribute a penny to operations.

  41. Fall 2012 ridership:
    All MAX lines plus Streetcar 132K
    Buslines 4,6,8,9,12(&94), 17, 19, 20, 33, 35, 44, 52, 54/56, 57, 71, 72, 75, 77: 122.1K
    In grabbing these numbers I overlooked the 14 and 15, so add another 10K or so.
    Bottom line, never the less, all FS lines plus seven others that carry at least 4K, all together have about the same number of riders as the MAX and Streetcar.
    Cost per ride for MAX trips are all below $2; only the 4 and 72 buslines come close.

  42. A few harder numbers:

    First, operating costs per boarding ride (2010 data) can be found here at Portland Afoot; the data as presented is per-passenger, and less fare revenue. (The average revenue per boarding ride is about $1, or was; this figure accounts for transfers–which count as multiple boarding rides but only charge a single fare–as well as discounted tickets and fare cheats). MAX is, unsurprisingly cheaper on this basis–MAX lines attract more ridership than do most bus lines, for various reasons. Equally unsurprising, frequent bus is cheaper than standard bus (despite the raw costs being similar–a bus is a bus)–again, frequent service has higher ridership. (Both because a higher level of service attracts more passengers, and because FS lines are located in better transit corridors).

    Presently, the system cost per vehicle hour for bus is $129, and for MAX is $369. (In FY99, the costs were $66 and $300, respectively). This is according to TriMet, but bus costs have nearly doubled in the last 13 years, whereas MAX operating costs have “only” jumped by about a quarter–and the absolute increase is nearly the same for both ($63 for bus, $69 for MAX).

    Cost per boarding ride has remained flat for MAX over the period; whereas similar costs on the bus have jumped quite a bit.

    I don’t know if the numbers are adjusted for inflation…

    I’ll let others argue what the proper mix of bus vs rail services ought to be…

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