Streetcar Loop Milestone

It might be masked a bit by Rose Festival, but Portland Streetcar hit an important milestone today!

The “CL” line (the “loop” to the east side) is now running at the same headways as the “NS” line on the west side (about 4 minute shorter headways at peak service).

The important benefit of matching the headways is that in the shared route portion of both lines (10th and 11th from Market to Lovejoy), we can interleave the vehicles evenly, resulting in effectively doubled frequency for customers on that part of the system (7 minutes at peak).

In a little over a year when we “close the loop”, this double-frequency zone will extend all the way from South Waterfront to the Pearl.

It just keeps getting better! BTW – for the skeptics, ridership on the CL line has approximately doubled since it opened, and overall system ridership is very close the 16,000 riders/day on weekdays.

22 responses to “Streetcar Loop Milestone”

  1. Congratulations, Chris! I have always felt that the skeptics are people who don’t ride the streetcar and are just parroting what they read in the Oregonian.

    I see on the streetcar web site that there is going to be an increase in fare enforcement. Hopefully this will be a meaningful increase. I often ride the NS line before 7am and I don’t think I have ever seen any enforcement then.

  2. Are there any statistics available on how many people are riding the eastside part of the CL line, vs just riding it where it overlaps with the NS?

    • A question I regularly ask in board meetings :-)

      Unfortunately that level of data is very weak, as all the ridership data is manually collected. Eventually we will install people-counters on the vehicles (as TriMet has done on all their vehicles) and we’ll have much more robust data.

  3. I have noticed that the cars on the east side have more riders than when the line first opened.

    Question: the other day, I passed a streetcar on the Broadway bridge (while riding my bike). It was heading eastbound, and was crawling along at maybe 1-2mph with it’s flashers on. Is there some maintenance issue with the bridge track or lines?

    • There is a 5mph speed limit across the joints of the Broadway Bridge. That’s what happens when you try running modern streetcars across bridges built during the Taft Administration.

      • Trains have been crossing bridges for a long time and designing things not to derail isn’t some 21st century thing. What would happen if they crossed at 10 mph? At 20 mph?

        I thought the steel bridge had some issue with vibration and the electrical equipment being flakey causing the MAX to be so slow there. What’s the reasoning on the Broadway?

  4. Things will really improve once the NS Streetcar runs more often than 19 minutes during the AM peak west of 11th and south of Clay (south of Meade beginning next year).

  5. resulting in effectively doubled frequency for customers on that part of the system (7 minutes at peak).

    That’s if its not broke down or stuck in traffic.

  6. we can interleave the vehicles evenly, resulting in effectively doubled frequency for customers on that part of the system (7 minutes at peak).

    You mean you can do that IF its not broken down or stuck in traffic

    • Time to start thinking about exclusive lanes on 10th and 11th, at least south of Burnside. Not much can be done north of there, though, because the streets are too narrow.

      One improvement through the Pearl would be to would be to eliminate right turns off 10th and 11th at most intersections. Drivers would then stay in the left lanes to avoid the streetcars.

      • Maybe they can create a dedicated “streetcar lane / bike lane” and we’ll really see some carnage.

          • He’s referring to bicycle riders crashing due to low-profile tires getting stuck in rail tracks.

            I bike between the tracks all the time. It’s usually less congested than other lanes.

            • I can see that’s a problem, but what does making an exclusive lane for the streetcars south of Burnside do to worsen (or for that matter to alleviate) it?

      • Because drivers already do such a wonderful job staying out of the transit mall lanes and refraining from making illegal right turns?

        Drivers already tend to avoid driving on the streetcar lane if they can help it, mostly because the tracks can be slippery under rubber tires.

        • Actually, cars are doing a pretty good job — compared to how they behaved when the Transit Mall reopened. It did take years for some to figure out the turn into the far lane but I rarely see anyone turning right off the Mall these days.

          • I see people driving in the transit lanes and turning off the transit mall regularly. Maybe it’s just in certain spots? A lot of people don’t get it — or perhaps they don’t care, as it’s easier and there may be no train around at the moment.

            As for even running of streetcars, I hope they do start running at even intervals. Even recently they have come bunched, and the estimated arrival has a funny way of creeping so that it’s coming in seven minutes when you read it and keeps saying that five minutes later. Dedicated lanes might help in certain spots (especially on Broadway), but I’ve always had the impression that the streetcar’s biggest problem was its lack of signal priority. Of course, MAX has the same problem. Crossing Burnside is the worst, not matter what way you’re doing it. Those lights are long-winded as hell!

            • I think the mall problems may depend on time of day. Watch at night and maybe on the weekends when it’s not the usual commuters, etc.

  7. Oh, I forgot to ask something. Will the frequency of running be impacted by the single track section near Harris? I know they had wanted to rebuild that diagonally through that block under a new building, but the projects seem to have fizzled out.

      • Chris had excellent post as a reaction to criticism of the funding for the improvements that will be made in the single-track area (Jasmine Block).

        The improvements are critical as the number of streetcars going through this area will double when the Tilikum Bridge opens.

        He also had a nice diagram showing what this realignment will look like.

        I might as well throw in here that I had an idea that would eliminate the two switches in this area thus saving some money and future switch maintenance costs. I have been told, and I accept the fact that streetcars need the ability to reverse directions, thus my idea simply is not workable.

        The idea, incidentally, came to me as I recalled a section of four-rail track that I saw on the Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad when I traveled that line while in college in 1959. Time flies doesn’t it?

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