Rethinking transit on the west side

 

No, this is not a post about the Southwest Corridor project, though that is certainly a relevant topic here.  Instead, it’s an update on the Service Enhancement Plans covering the west side of town, both the Westside SEP (covering Beaverton, Aloha, Hillsboro, Cornelius, Forest Grove, Cedar Mill, Cedar Hills, and Bethany), and the Southwest SEP (covering SW Portland, Tigard, Durham, King City, Tualatin, Sherwood, Lake Oswego, and West Linn).  TriMet published the Westside plan last year, and Portland Transport examined it then.  Now, TriMet has published a draft vision for the Southwest region, and is seeking public comment.  While the Southwest SEP draft anticipates somewhat the Southwest Corridor project, it doesn’t include it.  Oh, and the SW map also drops a few more hints (and contains a few revisions) of plans for the Westside.

The obvious caveat:  This is a vision document, not something for which there (necessarily) exists funding to pay for.  Both plans include substantial increases in service hours–and there are many things in these documents that have long been on TriMet’s published wishlist, but never delivered by the agency.

This article will focus a bit more on the Southwest changes, but highlights of the Westside plan are also included–especially where it appears things have changed.

Summary of proposed changes

  • As noted, the SWC project is not included, but a few other HCT-related proposals are made.  WES is unchanged, but the Westside plan includes some sort of BRT to replace augment the 57/TV Highway, and the potential reversal of the Red and Blue lines on the westside (with the Red running from PDX to Hillsboro, and the Blue from Beaverton to Gresham).  Oh, and there’s an “Amberglen High Capacity Transit” mentioned–Hillsboro has been angling for a streetcar, it seems.
  • The following lines are proposed for frequent service upgrades:  48,47 (with extension to S Hillsboro rather than to downtown Hillsboro, via a proposed new bridge over Rock Creek Park linking 231st with Century Drive), 52, 54 (without 56 multiplex), 76 (without 78 multiplex), 35, and 44 from Portland to PCC Sylvania.  (No mention is made of the Mocks Crest leg of the 44).
  • A new Jenkins/Baseline route between Beaverton and Hillsboro.
  • The 46 would run between Intel’s Jones Farm campus and S. Hillsboro
  • Reconfiguration of the 59 to run between Beaverton TC and Amberglen/Tanasbourne, no longer serving Cedar Hills or Sunset TC.
  • Extension of the 88 to serve Amberglen and Shute Road; also it will be rerouted along SW Davies instead of SW Hart between Beaverton and Aloha.
  • Extension of the 67 to Tigard via Merlo, 170th, Hart, 155th, Weir, Murray, and Walnut.
  • Extension of the 56 to South Cooper Mountain along Scholls Ferry Road, and extending it north to Skyline and the Oregon Zoo instead of the current 54 multiplex.
  • A new routing of the 78 between Beaverton and Tigard, using Scholls Ferry, Allen, and Lombard.  The 78 will also serve the Mountain Park neighborhood on the west side of Mt. Sylvania.
  • The 38 will run straight down Boones Ferry and skip Mountain Park. After serving Kruse Way, it will then continue west through Tigard via Bonita, McDonald, and Gaarde, ending in the South Cooper Mountain/Progress Ridge area; it will remain a peak hour only route.
  • A new routing of the 1 from Vermont to Oleson Road and Washington Square.
  • The 92 will use Multnomah Boulevard rather than Scholls Ferry and Beaverton-Hillsdale.
  • A new routing of the 45 west of Garden Home, going to Beaverton via Garden Home/Denny/Gall rather than to Washington Square and Tigard TC
  • Combination of the 39 and 51, giving a continuous line from Lewis and Clark to Portland Heights and across the Vista Bridge, the combined line will have all-day service.   (The branch around Council Crest will still exist and only run peak-only).
  • Rerouting of the 55, also over Vista Bridge and downtown instead of to Hillsdale.  (This will still be a peak-hour bus).
  • The 43 is proposed to connect Washington Square to Tacoma Street Station and the Orange Line via the rebuilt Sellwood Bridge, rather than run downtown via Corbett.  (The draft map does not indicate any service on Corbett, but Orange Line/Southeast planning has indicated the 99 may be routed that way in the future).
  • The 37 will run from Lake Oswego to Tigard via Kruse Way and Bonita, rather than down Boones Ferry to Tualatin.
  • A new route running from Sherwood to Tualatin, then north to BridgePort Village, the Tigard Triangle, up to 99W, then southwest to Tigard TC.
  • A new route connecting King City to Meridian Park Hospital via Durham Road.
  • A new route connecting Tigard TC to Commerce Circle via 99W and SW 124th (including a planned segment of 124th south of Tualatin/Sherwood Road)
  • The 154 will connect the Willamette neighborhood to Lake Oswego rather than Oregon City.
  • “Community service connectors” (which appear to be small shuttles operated by entities other than TriMet, with more flexible routings) serving the industrial areas and low-density residential parts of Tualatin; another serving Bull Mountain, another serving the sparser, hillier parts of Bethany, and others serving the industrial parks in north Hillsboro.
  • A “community service connector” serving the I-205/Borland corridor between Tualatin and Oregon City.

Thoughts

A few thoughts on all of this.  Overall, these proposals represent significant improvement over current service.  Some things I would like to see TriMet provide:

  • Updated planning information for the Westside SEP.  The SW SEP document contains modifications to Westside planning; it would be nice to see these fleshed out a bit more fully.
  • A priority stacking of proposed changes, under different funding scenarios.  It’s unclear what is necessary to get to the levels of service TriMet is suggesting, or if this is even practical.  It also would be interesting to see what other routes/changes didn’t make the cut.
  • A few years ago, TriMet published an annual “Transit Improvement Plan” which contained much of this; they haven’t produced on for the past couple fiscal years.  Instead, TIP now seems to stand for “Transit Improvement Priorities“, a work product which while interesting, has far less meat and far less concrete detail.  It may be the case that the SEP planning takes over for the old TIP process.

And now, for some specific comments.  Most of these comments will cover the Southwest region, as we covered the Westside before; but some Westside-related comments will sneak through.

  • Many of the proposed changes do attempt to strengthen the grid–no mean feat in a region where the street grid is frequently disconnected, by highways, hills, and the Tualatin River.
  • Some of the proposed changes do depend on new street construction–the 124th Avenue line, and the 47 rerouting to South Hillsboro.
  • The city of Beaverton recently published a Draft Concept Plan for the South Cooper Mountain area which includes improvements to the street network over Cooper Mountain; such improvements are intended to make Cooper Mountain passable to transit vehicles (right now most of the streets leading over the hill are too steep or narrow for a bus to safely navigate).  A bus line between Sherwood and Beaverton/Hillsboro via Roy Rogers Road and either 175th/185th or Tile Flat and Grabhorn would be a welcome addition.
  • Extending the 48 into downtown Portland over Barnes Road, replacing the 20 in this stretch, seems like an obvious thing to do; some other bus line would then need to serve Cedar Hills Boulevard.
  • An increase in the number of crosstown bus lines between Tigard and Beaverton is welcome.  I’d consider the following instead.
    • Run the 62 down Murray, serve Progress Ridge, and then Walnut Street to Tigard TC; instead of up Scholls Ferry to Washington Square.  Or extend the 37 west on Walnut to Progress Ridge and South Cooper Mountain.
    • Instead, extend the 67 down 170th/Bany/Hart/155th to Beard/Brockman, east to 125th, south to Conestoga, and over to Washington Square.  Or, from Conestoga route it south on 121st to Gaarde to 99W to King City, and join it with the proposed “Route B” to Bridgeport and Tualatin.
    • Extend the 1 further down Scholls Ferry to South Cooper Mountain, and route the 92 there as well.  (In general, express lines should augment existing service; this change gives the Conestoga neighborhood, which currently only has the peak-hour 92, full-time bus service, and avoids duplication with the 62).
  • I really like the 43 crossing the Sellwood Bridge to the eastside.  I’d like it even better were it a line serving Beaverton TC rather than Washington Square, if for no other reason than the greater number of connections possible there.
  • “Community service connecters” are a good idea for serving low-density neighborhoods or business parks.  They are not a good idea in a linear corridor–the proposed route between Tualatin and Oregon City should be a regular bus line, not a shuttle or van.
  • I’ve beaten this drum many times before, but I’ll say it again:  At some point, the 76 needs to be BRT–both to backstop WES (so riders need not worry about missing the last train of the day), and because the Tualatin/Beaverton corridor is important in its own right.  If the SWC is built as BRT, this only intensifies the need.  And given that BRT is in the cards (some day) for TV Highway, joining the two services might even be possible.
  • And there would be many advantages to commuters in both places were TriMet to operate a bus to Wilsonville, in addition to (or instead of) the various services SMART run in TriMet territory.

Thoughts?  TriMet is accepting public feedback through the end of October 2014.

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