Open Thread for the Week of 9/9/13

Our second week on the new platform! Have at it…

32 responses to “Open Thread for the Week of 9/9/13”

  1. TriMet announces signal improvements on Division in Gresham to improve service on the #4 line:

    TriMet, with the help of the City of Gresham, recently activated eight additional transit signal priority (TSP) intersections along Division Street in Gresham. This recent TSP activation means that the entire Line 4-Division/Fessenden route will receive signal priority the full length of the route, improving service along the roughly 25-mile line.

    • Well, last night (Sun.) the #4 was late AGAIN, this time by 11 minutes, when I got on at SE 7th & Clay to go downtown. This line is chronically late, even on weekends, signals or no. I know this from personal experience.

  2. Nick, there is currently a large construction-based detour for the #4 due to a sewer project – see the map on the TriMet service alert page.

    Phase two: August 26-September 11 – SE Division between SE 34th Avenue and SE 37th will be closed. Buses will be detoured for the entire duration of construction work, August 5 through approximately September 11. […] The detour will add extra time to trips in both directions.

    I have observed that the sewer project has things significantly backed up (pardon the pun) in that area.

    • That line has been chronically late for years now – and I mean on weekends as well. Let’s see what happens when the sewer project is over and full signal preemption is in effect.
      And why does it have to be 25 miles long?

      • That’s a good question. There’s no reason that the Division and Fessenden (N. Portland) branches of the line need to be joined together as one. There are advantages to not having lines end downtown. I wonder if it might be better for to swap the “western” halves of the 4 and 15, and have a NW-to-Gresham line and a Fessenden/Belmont line; or join the Fessenden line with the 14 or 9 instead (both of which currently end downtown).

        • I for one would like to defend long routes, especially crosstown routes. The last bunch of cuts made for the purpose of simplifying (never mind saving money) impacted me directly. In fact, three of the routes I used most all had change ups that negatively impacted me. I’m not eager further ones, and a selfish desire isn’t always a bad thing. For some of us who have no alternatives to the buses, we want the bus to work for us. Crosstown routes often get questioned while single-corridor ones seem to be assumed to be superior. As a transit rider my whole adult life, I would offer a rebuttal.

          That brings me to the next point, mainly that long crosstown routes can be very effective in that they allow single-seat rides over long distances. It gets irritating having to make connections in Downtown that don’t always work where once you had a single ride. For example, I use the Belmont bus (#15) to get from SE to NW to go to the Fred Mayer. The only grocery store on Belmont (and I mean a *real* grocery store, not a Plaid Pantry, a bodega, a small specialty food shop) is a Zupan’s. They’re nice but also a bit pricy, and often the kind of people who rely on a bus because they can’t afford a car don’t usually shop at Zupan’s. I like having a one-seat ride to the grocery store. Without it, I would have to make a connection that usually doesn’t work well and involves a short trip on a route that’s usually very crowded (the 75 to the 15, coming from the Freddy’s on Hawthorne). When your’e carrying groceries home, you don’t want to have to walk a long distance from the stop to your home, and if you can help it, you don’t want to have to make connections either. It’s a lot of trouble, especially as you get older.

          Another example can be for late night trips. I recently came home from a religious celebration for that was in Hillsboro. I caught the Cornell bus (#48) to Sunrise TC and then took the 20 bus from there. I could have taken MAX to Downtown and transferred to the 15, but the 20, because it is the Burnside route, goes from the westside to the eastside, which made it very useful because it was late on a Sunday. I can walk easily enough from Burnside to Belmont, so this one, long crosstown route made a very good alternative. Not only did it do the job, I did not have to worry about another connection, and I only had to walk a few extra blocks. I have learned through experiences that the fewer connections you have to make, the better. Trips become easier, more reliable, less stressful, and can even be faster. Even if they’re a little slower, the ease of making fewer connections often outweighs the cons of chancing more for a faster trip. I have also used the 12 in similar ways, coming from Barbur and getting off on the eastside and walking a little bit extra.

          In short, short trips are not always possible, and sometimes you have no choice but to make long, cross-town trips. If you have no alternative (a car or a ride, for example), then long cross-town routes are invaluable. They make these kinds of trips much easier. Unless you have very high frequencies across intersecting lines, then expecting people to count on connections that don’t always work out is not going to lead to a great deal of satisfaction to say the least.

          • I think more crosstown routes are an excellent idea–and routes that avoid downtown can often be more reliable. The comment was about Really Long routes, of which there are several–the 4 and the 20 are two of the worst offenders. TriMet had good reasons for breaking up the 12, previously from Sherwood to Gresham (though I can’t remember if there were any busses that went all the way, or if all Sherwood busses shortlined at Parkrose and Gresham busses likewise at King City–and the way TriMet did it leaves much to be desired). There is no reason to break up the 15, other than as a way of optimizing the 4–actually, I like combining the 4/Fessenden and the 14 better.

            Actually, the 15 could be lengthened–one possible cure for the 20 would be for the 15 to run continuously on the Belmont/Stark corridor out to Gresham, and end the 20 at Gateway. OTOH, the grid breaks down east of I-205 (no through N/S service between the Green Line and the 71), so its understandable that TriMet likes to run everything through Gateway…

          • (This is a reply to Scott, but I’m not seeing the reply link under his post)

            Yes, there were some 2 1/2 hour+ runs that went from Gresham to Parkrose to Portland to Tigard to downtown Sherwood and back out to the layover next to 99W.

          • Fewer connections the better. Agreed.

            l can’t say if rearranging 4 and 15 will help, but having some lines-the 4 comes to mind-which cross the entirety of East and North Portland seems doomed to delays. Portland Afoot’s stats says it was 77% on time in 2012 and was nearly the most crowded (not a surprise to anyone who’s been on it during peak hours).

            The 4 and 9 have the potential to become express buses in East Portland with little added infrastructure. Still, I don’t think this should make the case to pave more road. Breaking these lines up at 205 may be a solution to explore.

    • Do you think the detour down to Powell for the red line will be faster or slower than the steel bridge I-84 route? Also, how would the operation work at Gateway? I also see challenges at Powell and I-205. How would that T-interchange work for MAX? Huge viaduct flyovers?

      • Chris,
        Good questions. My original idea was to leave the Red and Blue line as they are, which would require no change to Gateway.

        I see the T interchange at 205 as just that, one elevated switch that requires only peds and bikes on the 205 path to stop when trains approach (not too popular with bikers including myself, but I think flyover viaducts might be overkill).

        This T interchange could have a stop near 92nd (see the pic) where both express buses (4 and 9) from Gresham allow transfers to both MAX lines down Powell.

  3. Sean – Other than the fact that, as you’ve drawn it, it would probably require demolition of the building that I lease for my business, it’s very intriguing. Actually, in fact, the thought of demolition makes it all the more intriguing, it would be delightful to move somewhere better with TriMet’s generous assistance. :-)

    (Half of the place was already demolished for the current PMLR construction, but I was apparently just outside the reach of assistance.)

  4. A more serious comment on Sean’s proposal…

    It appears that you reroute the Green line to leave downtown on the PMLR bridge, then head out Powell all the way to 205, turning south along its original 205 alignment to go to Clackamas Town Center.

    You have a separate, new, Purple line running from downtown, differing only that when it gets to 205 it turns north toward Gateway.

    This creates the problem of no longer having continuous transfer-free service up and down I-205 between CTC and Gateway. (Someone from Clackamas, desiring to reach the airport, for example, will have to make 2 transfers.)

    Have you explored allocating the operations differently… Do the Green Line as you have it drawn, but instead have a Purple line covering just the CTC-to-Gateway stretch (or even CTC-to-Parkrose if an access track at Gateway is created, making true all-205 service possible).

    Most Green Line riders leaving downtown will likely seek to travel south beyond Powell/205 … a Purple running only on I-205 and with a same-platform connection could serve those going north, and all users in the I-205 corridor who might not be interested in to/from downtown travel. It might use fewer overall operating hours to provide better overall service.

    • Bob,
      I think engineers etc. would likely design the inner alignment differently, which would undoubtedly require some demo. I’m no engineer.

      Your point is well-taken. In an earlier post last month, someone suggested extending the purple line to PDX via Gateway. I suppose that would fix the transfer problem (though perhaps lengthen the time to the airport). The main problem I am attempting to circumvent here is that of the Steel Bridge. It seems to be an Achilles’ heel

      With an alternate routing to downtown for people from Gresham to Clackamas, the system becomes much more robust and flexible.

      • Sean,

        I agree with Bob that this is an intriguing proposal. But it’s totally Blue Sky. Given the political and economic realities of today, Milwaukie MAX will be the last rail line built in Portland for a very long time, with the possible exception of the Yellow Line being extended to Jantzen Beach.

        There is no longer any constraint on the station location having to accommodate the Columbia River Crossing, and it can probably be done for $150 million with a surface station, so why not? It would be good to have a better “anchor” for the end of the line than the infrequently used Expo Center.

        But that’s it. That’s it.

        • Anandakos,
          Why? SW corridor is considering a MAX. Why is the climate so different (I don’t follow transit and funding issues closely)?

          • Sean,

            It’s true that at this time LRT is still a technology under consideration for the Southwest Corridor. However, the route decision (Downtown/PCC Sylvania/Tigard/Tualatin) essentially guarantees BRT. The elevation changes through PCC and down to 72nd would require a pretty significant tunnel.

            It’s not going to be rail.

          • Last I saw, the cost projections for building a light-rail tunnel were so far inflated from reality (based on the actual costs of similar projects, including the Robertson tunnel and Seattle’s LINK tunnel) that it looks like the planners are trying to kill light rail as an option rather than perform a side-by-side comparison of rail and bus based on realistic numbers. It appears to me that the fix is in for BRT.

      • My solution to the Steel Bridge bottleneck is to clone the Steel Bridge with a twin immediately to the south — same towers, same upper deck, probably no lower deck unless you want a really expensive bikeway. Put the Blue, Red and Green lines on the new bridge (run the Green line on the E/W tracks as far as the Library/SW 11th). The Yellow line can use the existing Steel Bridge, as could any future MAX lines using the N/S tracks through downtown.

        Bottleneck solved, with a probable cost in the neighborhood of $100 million. Cheaper than a new MAX line.

  5. TriMet, with the help of the City of Gresham, recently activated eight additional transit signal priority (TSP) intersections along Division Street in Gresham. This recent TSP activation means that the entire Line 4-Division/Fessenden route will receive signal priority the full length of the route, improving service along the roughly 25-mile line.

    Trimet, always eager to please the public, or at the very least eager to present an impression that they actually care about the public, have created a brand new capital projects adventure titled OPERATION STREAMLINE!

    ~~>Of course OPERATION STREAMLINE includes TRIMET’s regional partners and was created by $4.5 million dollars handed over by our beloved federal government because the federals care so deeply about Portland residents that they knew they had to do something to help us poor citizens deal with our increasingly unreliable transit system. (Of course big daddy FED would never hand that money over to actually provide something like a 3 hour transfer, nope, we need yet another capital projects adventure)


    I have observed that the sewer project has things significantly backed up (pardon the pun) in that area.

    ~~~>If its not that its something else, there is always something messing up the works..

  6. Does anyone know why the City installed right turn only signs and paint on SE 6th at SE Stark, both north and south bound? I commute to work on this street via bike adn have been ignoring them.

    • There is some opportunity here to pick up a lot of student traffic if they schedule the busses properly. So far it seems like they have just been copying Amtrak’s schedule, which is terrible to Eugene, but will be improving. And why Albany? Do they just look at Amtrak’s route and copy it? Stopping in Corvallis and Eugene would attract a huge number of students on a Thursday thru Monday service, as the existing service to Corvallis is pitiful.

      • A “westside” service, serving Portland, possibly Tigard/Sherwood, Newberg, McMinnville, Dallas/Rickreall/Independence, Corvallis, and possibly continuing onto Junction City and Eugene, would be a useful thing. Might not lie within Bolt’s business model…

        ..and I’m curious that the Portland/Albany/Eugene service doesn’t include a stop in Salem.

        The press release seems to indicate that there are lots of students in the Albany area–perhaps it is assumed that OSU students will ride the Linn-Benton Loop between Albany and Corvallis to connect to Bolt?

        • I do think it’s weird that they’re picking Albany. Not only is there no university there (I would think that OSU students, especially ones who might take Bolt, would live on/close to campus), but Greyhound quit stopping there even though they still go through to get to/from Corvallis. And it’s farther from I-5 than Salem.

  7. Al, for the last time, please describe your links. There’s nothing wrong with what you linked to, it’s just that your many comments of this format resemble comment spam. Stop wasting people’s time and write a few short words. Otherwise you’re contributing nothing to the discussion.

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