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.

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