Orange Line Sighting

Lincoln St SignGuest contributor David Brandt is a regular reader.

Earlier this year there was discussion on this blog about how TriMet would designate and serve the new Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail line (see “TriMet Confirms That Orange Line Will Go Through Downtown After All, But Details Still Unclear, April 17, 2013″). A clue has recently appeared that might shed some light on TriMet’s plans.

At the SW Lincoln St. station still under construction, signage has appeared that would indicated that the station will be served by BOTH orange line trains and yellow line trains. The sign has the station name (SW Lincoln & SW 3rd), line direction for the platform (City Center) and an orange dot and a yellow dot indicating service by two lines. If this is the case, there are some interesting possibilities as to how TriMet might schedule service on the line.

One possibility would be for half of the yellow southbound trains to terminate at PSU and the other half to continue south to Milwaukie. Those terminating at PSU could then loop around and become orange trains filling in the other half of the schedule to and from Milwaukie. A variation on this would be for a train to start as yellow at Expo Center, travel through city center and on to Milwaukie, change to orange and travel back to Union Station and returning to Milwaukie as orange, and then finally returning to Expo Center as Yellow. Or maybe they will all operate as yellow trains straight down the line with some changing colors on the southern half as suggested earlier in the year.

Any other ideas on what might be up TriMet’s sleeves?


13 responses to “Orange Line Sighting”

  1. Regardless of how the operations work out in terms of which trains switch to which colors and where, in terms of service this seems to indicate that the yellow line trains from Interstate Ave will run as a part of regular service beyond the current terminus at the south end of the transit mall. The question is, how much further along the new alignment will yellow-branded trains run?

    Presumably, “orange line” trains would run as far north as Union Station, then turn around for a return trip to Milwaukie; but is there a scenario under which they go further than Union Station while remaining branded “orange”?

    As far as I can tell, the biggest problem with Tri-Met’s existing system is that, while the I-84 corridor is served by no less than three lines (Airport, Gresham, Clackamas TC), the Interstate line is only served by one (Expo Center). This means that you can easily have ~5 minute headways anywhere in the I-84 corridor, whereas Interstate Ave is stuck with 15-minute headways — no better, and indeed perhaps even slightly worse, than the bus lines that it makes transfers with.

    Of course, the problem is that Interstate serves only one destination, and even if it were to be extended to the ‘Couv, would remain that way… oh, well.

  2. I hope they’re not going to change colors in Downtown. Just run the yellow line from Expo to Milwaukie as a single color and be done with it. If you need an orange service, how about Milwaukie to PDX? That would give SE/Milwaukie access to Downtown, I-84, Gateway, and PDX. Not a bad idea if you ask me. TriMet could certainly do much worse, and I’m not entirely certain that they won’t where this new MAX line is concerned.

  3. It makes sense to continue the Yellow line to South Waterfront (at the very least), but I don’t see any layover tracks for it to reverse direction there. Hopefully it’ll continue all the way to Clackamas as a N-S trunk line. Then the Orange would just turn around at Union Station. Since there are a lot of feeder buses and park-and-rides at the south end, the ridership potential and frequencies will likely be greater than the current Yellow line.

    Keep an eye out for more yellow dots further south.

  4. I still think that we don’t need another color. Just call it an extension of yellow & be done with it. I htink it is getting it’s own line for political reasons.

    • While I agree that one color for the entire N/S trunk would make sense, I wonder if this means that both the Yellow and Orange lines will go to Milwaukie, with Yellow going to Expo and Orange turning around at Union Station. I don’t see any other place for the Yellow line to turn around once it goes past PSU.

      Very interesting. Do we know anyone connected with TriMet who can comment on this?

      • I really doubt that there will be enough demand to duplicate service all the way to Milwaukie. Maybe during peak commuting hours. Maybe.

  5. I think SE Clinton makes sense as an overlapping destination for the yellow line, as there is a turnback track just east of the station. There should be pretty strong transit demand between Clinton and PSU, and it’s a good idea to double up the lines over the new bridge; we might prevent a public perception that it is being under-utilized. And if a line is ever extended down Powell, it would just be a yellow line extension from the existing Clinton destination.

    • Good catch, Chris, I didn’t notice those tracks. Extending the two-line service to inner SE would make a lot of sense.

    • I just noticed those very tracks east of Clinton St and was gonna make that same suggestion. I also like your idea of a Powell extension of the Yellow, although I do think there’s enough ridership along McLoughlin though Milwaukie to warrant Yellow line service all the way to Park Ave.

  6. This actually refers to two topics that I have had questions about in the past:

    #1 – I think things would be simplified for everyone if Tri-Met would simply bite the bullet and run the Milwaukee light rail through town out to the Expo Center and simply call the whole route Yellow. Why confuse people unnecessarily? I’ll bet that the ridership on both the north and south segments will be very similar thus making the schedule and headway times very easy to handle. If ridership is significantly greater to Milwaukee, say during rush hour, and TriMet can figure out the schedule, maybe they can schedule in a few trains that turn around at Union Station and use the Orange name only with those trains.

    #2- this is a suggestion that I have made (with one change now) that I have made repeatedly since the Red Line opened in whatever year it was. Originally I wanted to see the Red Line head towards Hillsboro and take a short two mile right at Cornelius Pass Road and end at a Park and Ride along Highway 26. I believe that the majority of the right-of-way is still available and owned by ODOT Rail. With an intervening stop at Cornell Road I was under the opinion that this would take a lot of pressure off the Sunset Transit Center. Since hearing Neil McFarlane being interviewed by Chris Smith, I have changed my mind on one portion of my idea. Now I think that the Blue Line should go to Cornelius Pass and the Red Line go to Hillsboro. Why, because I’ll bet that almost nobody travels the entire Blue Line all the way to Gresham or vice versa. Hillsboro people would be better served by the Red Line to downtown and the airport. I’ve heard all kinds of reasons why this wouldn’t work but the only ones I understand are lack of money and lack of interest. Interesting enough, the first time I ever suggested this was to Bob Melbo, then with the Portland and Western, who, it seemed to me, kind of liked the idea. It certainly would be less expensive than other projects on a per mile basis and might actually not require more trains.

    I have said before that this is the last time I will ever make this proposal now that I am 74 (almost 75) years old, I mean it.

    • TriMet is strongly considering swapping Blue and Red in Washington County–with Red going Hillsboro-PDX and Blue going from Beaverton to Gresham.

      OTOH, sending a spur up Cornelius Pass Road, along the old rail ROW, is not in the plans. There’s been discussion of a streetcar(!) essentially connecting Quatama with the new Kaiser Westside hospital, and possibly points beyond that–the city of Hillsboro seems interested in such things. But users of that, should it be designed and built (it is presently just a proposal, without any funding or detailed design) would require a transfer to MAX.

      • The KP Westside hospital sits at the north end of the Streets of Tanasbourne development and might be a good terminus for such a car but anything beyond that goes through an office-park atmosphere devoid of much residential development. In fact, a lot of Evergreen Road itself is rather undeveloped near the hospital.

        The Red/Blue swap isn’t just being strongly considered by TriMet, it’s part of the Westside Service Enhancement Plan:

        So, that will likely happen in the not-so-distant future. As someone who rides the Blue Line out of Hillsboro each day across the river, I can tell you that it empties out around Skidmore, only to start filling up again around the Lloyd Center. So, essentially, the Blue Line is really two lines that happen to share a common track at the Willamette.

        All this said, a streetcar in Hillsboro would be cool. However, we tend to call it the Blue Line in downtown :)

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