Rethinking bus service in Gresham and East County

This past week, TriMet released its first draft proposal for improved bus service in East County (essentially, anything east of Interstate 205 and north of Mt. Scott).  Like the recently similar proposal for the SW Metro area, the new Eastside Plan is an effort being done in parallel with a rapid transit project (the Powell/Division BRT), but does not include that project itself; instead it focuses on (mostly) non-capital improvements to bus service:  new routes, re-routings, and improvements to frequency and/or span of service.  (A few proposed changes require new streets be completed).

A map and brief description is here:

And as Bike Portland reports, one of the proposed changes will soon come to fruition:  The 71 between Lents and Parkrose via 122nd, will become a frequent service route once Portland completes some improvements.    (It appears that this line will be disconnected from the western leg of the 71 at Parkrose; whether that will be joined with another line or not, I do not know).

Anyway, on to the details, and my comments, after the jump:

Three new lines are on tap:

  • Line C, which runs from Parkrose TC, serving industrial areas along Airport Way to 148th, and then south to Powell Boulevard
  • Line D, which runs from the vicinity of 181st and Sandy west to 16th, then south to Powell, then back east to 182nd.
  • Line E, which runs from Troutdale Airport through Wood Village to 223rd, then south to Gresham TC.

Other lines seeing service changes:

  • 22 and 23 will be connected and joined together to provide better service to Parkrose and the Argay and Russell neighborhoods.  Requires that NE Fremont be extended to 148th.
  • 25 extended out to Reynolds HS and MHCC, rather then ending at Rockwood
  • 20 to become Frequent Service.  Will this be done all the way to Beaverton, or just on the eastside?
  • As mentioned above, 71 to become frequent service between Lents and Parkrose; route will be disconnected from the western half of the line.
  • 87 to become Frequent Service along 181st/182nd.  FS will not be extended east to Gresham TC; the map is unclear if the Airport Way-to-Gateway segment will get frequent service (though it will get weekend service).
  • 80 to get increased service, and be re-routed along Burnside to Gresham TC instead of current routing on Powell (which duplicates the 81)
  • 81 to get increased service.
  • 84 to get increased service, and add service to  Hogan and Palmquist.
  • 21 to use Hogan Road instead of 223rd (which will instead have Line E above) between Wood Village and Gresham TC
  • Increased service on line 77
  • A “community shuttle” serving the Troutdale Airport area.
  • In addition, TriMet also drops hints about changes to lines 10, 15, 17, and 19 in the area.  They don’t say what those are, but I have my thoughts and suggestions…

While scant mentions is made of Powell/Division, a few things are apparent.

  • TriMet has realized that north-south connectivity in the corridor is presently poor.  All three new lines are primarily north-south lines.  And all, naturally, will intersect P/D.
  • Mount Hood Community College is starting to become a transit hub.  The P/D line will end there, of course, and the 25 will now run there.

And now, a few suggestions from your friendly neighborhood engineer:

  • A new bus line, Line F, running from Parkrose to Clackamas Town Center, largely using  102nd, Cherry Blossom, and 92nd.   This will provide local service to complement the Green Line, serve the opposite side of I-205 south of Flavel, and hits the following major destinations:  CTC, Sunnyside Hospital, Lents, Adventist Medical Center, Gateway TC.  If this is done, truncating the 87 at Parkrose becomes a possibility.
  • If the 20 is to become frequent service all the way…. it’s too long.  Instead, I would end the 20 at Gateway, and have the 15 run along Glisan–and not serve Gateway TC, but just run E/W.  Improve the grid.  Also, no need for the 20  (or the 15) to double back from MHCC to Gresham TC; instead, extend the 9 along this route to connect the two.
  • Another idea I’ve mentioned before–I assume that when P/D opens, the 4 will be frequent service from downtown to the Jade District, and then will provide local service at lower frequency (complementing the limited service P/D line) along Division.   Rather than short-lining the 4 at Division or thereabouts, I propose halving its frequency for the entire lengthy, and adding a new Line G, that runs at about half of the current frequency of the 4.  Will run concurrently with the 4 from downtown to 92nd (keeping frequent service on inner Division), then north on 92nd, then east to Gresham via Market (serving Adventist Medical Center). S on 130th (serving David Douglas HS), east on Mill to Millmain to Main, N on 182nd, E on Yamhill to Ruby Junction, then east on Burnside to Kelly to Gresham TC.
  • Rather than end the 71 at Lents, combining it with the 14 would be a useful thing to do.  TriMet didn’t mention the 14 on their webpage, but they did mention the 19…. perhaps the 71/122nd will be combined with the 19/Woodstock, and we’ll get frequent service between Lent and Reed College/Sellwood?  If TriMet were to end the 19 in Sellwood rather than run it downtown, requiring a transfer to PMLR in exchange for frequent service, I wouldn’t complain too much.  Or better yet–send it across the Sellwood Bridge so it can connect with westside buses.
  • Along the same line… rather than having the D bus do a loop around 148th and Powell, how about sending it west on Powell to 136th, south to Holgate, and thereby joining it with the 17?  (Connect the Broadway half of the 17 with something else).
  • If TriMet is feeling particularly frisky, extending a bus line into PDX (serving some of the hotels and businesses in the vicinity, not just the terminal and CascadeStation) might be a useful thing to do.  One possibility would be extending the 21 into PDX…and then west on Columbia ending at Delta Park.   If this is done, the 75 can avoid the diversion onto Columbia .
  • I’m not sure what TriMet might think of doing with the 10; though I would definitely increase it to seven-day service.  Plus, I’d serve Lents TC on the way out, then 92nd to Harold to 136th, at least to David Douglas–possibly as far north as University of Western States and the 22/23.   Running out to 136th and then doubling back to Lents via 122nd isn’t terribly useful.
  • One more N/S bus would be nice–for example, one starting at Fairview Lake, then west on Sandy to 201st, then south from there to Birdsdale.
  • Finally, if and when Clackamas County builds the 172nd/190th Corridor, consideration should be given to having the 87 continue south on the new route to Happy Valley, and combining it with the 155.  Of course, that route runs through parts of Damascus that are presently outside the service district.
8 Comments

8 Responses to Rethinking bus service in Gresham and East County

  1. Cameron J
    June 14, 2015 at 10:38 am Link

    I cannot avoid a chance to talk shop about routes.

    The most obvious change I’d make is to combine the 162nd Avenue route with the Eastman portion of the 87. They could run at the same frequency and without dragging busier routes into convoluted schedules. I’d also consider a Gresham-Lents route via Eastman, the Highlands area, McKinley, Jenne, and Foster. These two neighborhoods could stand to be connected much better. As for the 10, I’d do what you suggested only run it south to happy Valley, and run the 19 much the same- down Mt. Scott, 129th, Sunnyside, and to Clackamas. For the Glisan portion I’d make it a unique line that runs all the way through- especially if there will be complications to the 4/9, having one more full grid line to the Troutdale/Gresham area couldn’t hurt.

    Doing to the 4 what C-Tran did to the 37 is an interesting idea, but seeing as the Millmain corridor couldn’t support hourly local service, I don’t think running a half-hour 7-day near 24-hour line through the area will be much benefit. I think the Fessenden portion of the line is long enough that ending it at Jade would make it much easier and more on-time, and then a rapid transit supporting line at 30 minute frequency mirroring the Powell-Division line would be more efficient to serve the stops in between. Redundant, but efficient.

    This is also why I wouldn’t combine the 71 with anything. The big thing holding the 122nd Avenue portion back to such standstill majorly late times is because it’s part of an abysmal horse-shoe line that is so long that once you get to 122nd the slightest delay will throw the entire system off track. Making the 71 an individual line from Lents to Parkrose is about as close to a miracle as it’ll get.

    Your ideas for the 21, I like. I’m not sure if I’d run it all the way to PDX but I like the idea of a loop through Cascade/Alderwood, and then a straight shot to Delta Park via Columbia. I’m not sure if it could all support 35 minute frequency, but it’d be a good place to give commuter service.

    I think the 102nd/92nd corridor is an obvious one that, despite mirroring MAX service, has been needed for awhile. I think that ending the 87 at Parkrose due to this could actually make it serve the Cascade area itself and give the 21 a better straight shot to Columbia Blvd, making both routes better.

    I absolutely agree that combining the 148th avenue with part of Holgate would be a great idea, but as for the whole thing, it again risks being boggled down in long wait times. Perhaps they both could meet at 92nd and terminate at Lents.

    These are my two cents- great ideas overall.

  2. Wells
    June 15, 2015 at 12:33 pm Link

    My two cents: Seems apparent a very nice little grid indeed.
    My singlemost ardent concern: MAX to nearby MHCC and ‘A+’ Terminus, arguably, the most productive LRT mile we’ll build as readily. Simpler shorter bus routes increasing student travel. Redevelope main transit center.
    I figured it ought to happen yesterday, yesterday.

    The BNSF RR bridge over the Columbia cannot handle 100-tanker car trainloads nor Terminal 6 rail operations safely. Any West Hayden Island
    90 degree rail spurs operations is absurdly unsafe. Accident-prone operations that derail most often hence worsening this bridge bottleneck for all railroads.
    Mr Wyatt’s answers to questions about marine terminal rail are unsatisfactory.

    • EngineerScotty
      June 15, 2015 at 2:37 pm Link

      Was the comment about freight meant for another thread?

    • Anandakos
      June 15, 2015 at 3:45 pm Link

      I’m curious how you would propose to go from Cleveland Avenue to Mount Hood CC. The roads aren’t wide enough to take a pair of lanes, and there’s no “cross country” reserved ROW available except a golf course on which private homes sit. I’m sure it’s not for sale.

      • Nick theoldurbanist
        June 16, 2015 at 7:52 am Link

        Eminent domain.

      • Douglas K.
        June 16, 2015 at 9:23 am Link

        Road diet? Reduce Division to one lane each way east of 242nd, and Kane to a lane each way south of Stark.

        And then use eminent domain to get to Division by knocking out/replacing the Starbucks at 242nd & Burnside and cutting across the Gresham Toyota lot on 242nd.

        I’m not saying that WILL work, necessarily … but if the cost of condemnation isn’t absurd, traffic volumes are such that losing lanes won’t create bottlenecks, and MAX can handle the turn at Division and Kane, then why not look into it?

        • EngineerScotty
          June 16, 2015 at 9:26 am Link

          The Powell/Division line will provide a rapid-transit connection between the two; I’m not sure a redundant MAX connection would be a major improvement.

  3. Ron Swaren
    June 18, 2015 at 9:01 am Link

    Spoke with METRO Council Chair Dirksen at length last night at the SW Corridor open house. Some of it was about the Hydro-Quebec innovation via its subsidiary, TM4, of more powerful electric motors for buses—which it recently agreed to a sale of 300 of them to China. Rather than a heavy diesel engine and transmission the TM4 is a 500 lb motor and a 50 lb controller—and then of course the batteries weigh something, too. http://tm4.com/products/direct-drive-electric-powertrain/

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