Author Archive | mfetsch

Washington County Commuter Rail Groundbreaking celebration!

Update: 10/22/06

Jim Mayer has a piece in the Oregonian this morning that explores in detail the issues of operating on the freight line.

Original Post: 10/20/06


Washington County Commuter Rail Groundbreaking celebration!
Oct. 25th event at Tigard Transit Center

After 10 years of planning, the 14.7-mile Washington County Commuter Rail Project will celebrate its groundbreaking on Wednesday, Oct. 25th at the Tigard Transit Center. The line will connect the cities of Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville and become Oregon’s first commuter rail project when it opens in September 2008.


US Senator Ron Wyden
US Senator Gordon Smith
US Rep. David Wu
US Rep. Darlene Hooley
Federal Transit Administration Deputy Administrator Sandra Bushue
Washington County Chair Tom Brian
TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen
Oregon Transportation Commissioner Janice Wilson
Portland & Western President and General Manager Bruce Carswell


Groundbreaking celebration for Washington County Commuter Rail
Speakers will arrive at the event on a vintage Portland & Western train


Tigard Transit Center
8900 SW Commercial


Wednesday, Oct. 25th – 10:30 AM

About the project:

Washington County Commuter Rail will offer a new transportation option in the heavily traveled I-5/Hwy 217 corridor. Using existing Portland & Western freight tracks, the new line will provide commuters with morning and evening rush hour service on weekdays, and connect with Blue and Red MAX trains and bus service in Beaverton, and local bus service in Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville. Up to 800 park & ride spaces will be available at four of the five stations. Travel time between Beaverton and Wilsonville is 27 minutes; by the year 2020 a car trip between those cities is expected to be 40 minutes. Top speed of the train is 60 mph and will average 37 mph. Cost of the project is $117.3 million, with the federal government providing 50 percent of the funds. Weekday ridership is expected to be 3,000-4,000 trips estimated by 2020, with half of the riders new to transit.

Updated bus relocation plan unveiled

TriMet today unveiled an updated plan to relocate buses off the Portland Mall during construction of the Portland Mall Light Rail project. The project is part of the 8.3-mile I-205/Portland Mall Light Rail extension set to begin construction in mid-January 2007.

After receiving hundreds of public comments and completing additional traffic analysis, TriMet updated its Option 1 proposal. Riders wanted service to closely mirror existing Mall operations, keeping buses close together to ensure convenient transfer between lines.

Updated Plan

  • 19 bus lines will run on 3rd and 4th avenues
  • 8 bus lines will run on Columbia and Jefferson streets
  • Line 14-Hawthorne will run on SW 2nd Ave and cross the Morrison Bridge before returning to its regular route on SE Hawthorne.
  • Other routing or scheduling changes will affect lines 1, 16, 41, 55, 63, 68 and 95.

The plan will keep traffic on these streets moving, provide access to parking garages and accommodate buses during construction. Buses will be relocated between mid-January 2007 until spring 2009. For full plan details visit

Comment period

TriMet is accepting public comment on the updated bus relocation plan through May 31, 2006:
Call 503-238-RIDE weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Fax: 503-962-2481
TTY: 503-238-5811

It all started on the bus

When Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man 50 years ago, her courage gave face to a movement that would forever change our society and institutions. Her heroic act on Dec. 1, 1955 sparked the Montgomery bus boycott and for 381 days blacks, who made up the majority of bus riders, refused to ride. By saying “no” to inequality, Parks said “no” to discrimination of Black Americans through segregation that included separate drinking fountains, restrooms and schools.

TriMet & community remember Rosa Parks &
50th anniversary of Montgomery bus boycott

When Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man 50 years ago, her courage gave face to a movement that would forever change our society and institutions. Her heroic act on Dec. 1, 1955 sparked the Montgomery bus boycott and for 381 days blacks, who made up the majority of bus riders, refused to ride. By saying “no” to inequality, Parks said “no” to discrimination of Black Americans through segregation that included separate drinking fountains, restrooms and schools.

TriMet, the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA) and the community commemorate Rosa Parks’ legacy and the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery bus boycott.

TriMet is also displaying a historic photo essay commemorating Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement inside and outside buses from December 1 through February. You can also see them at to learn more about Rosa, the boycott and the civil rights movement.

Moment of Silence

TriMet wll also briefly stop all buses at noon to observe a moment of silence for Rosa Parks. Bus operators will make the following announcement: “We ask for a moment of silence as we remember Rosa Parks’ legacy. Today marks the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ arrest after refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama.”

Rosa Parks died October 25, 2005 at the age of 92.

September marks the anniversary of 3 MAX lines

Just 19 years ago, the Portland region opened its first MAX light rail line. The first 15-mile segment opened in 1986 between downtown Portland and Gresham. There was excitement in the community as we opened one of the first modern light rail lines in the country. Of course, there were a few derisive comments before it opened, including a suggestion that we should leave the keys inside and just walk away from it.

But all these years later, MAX has carried 199 million trips, and has helped spur more than $3 billion in transit-oriented development along the entire alignment.

Eastside MAX opened with an average of 19,500 weekday trips, which has now grown to an average of 41,100 daily trips. During the planning for the line, the city of Gresham didn’t want the MAX line in their front yard. But has since spent years and millions of dollars turning the city toward the MAX line.

A decade later, the 18-mile Westside MAX line opened, with half of the riders in the corridor new to transit. The success of the line could be seen since opening day – standing-room only trains during rush hour. First year boardings averaged 22,800 and has since climbed to an average of 32,700 weekday trips.

1st train to plane on West Coast

When the 5.5-mile Airport MAX Red Line opened Sept. 10, 2001, less than 24 hours before the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center buildings, it was the first train-to-plane connection on the West Coast. In these four years, 3.3 million people have ridden to or from Portland International Airport. The former bus line that served PDX averaged about 900 people getting on or off on weekdays. MAX has nearly tripled transit trips with an average of 2,600 weekday trips.

System expanding

TriMet’s overall MAX system now covers 44 miles with 65 light rail stations. Last year MAX carried 32 million rides, up from 27.5 million the year before. And Saturday ridership is 80% of weekday ridership, showing that ridership isn’t focused solely on commute trips. On similar systems, one out of four riders are choice riders, but MAX is carrying three out of four riders as a matter of choice – leaving many cars in their driveways.

Next month, the 8.3-mile I-205/Portland Mall Light Rail Project will enter the Final Design phase. The community is invited to provide comments on issues including station design, and how MAX can help enliven the Mall for retail, pedestrians and transit riders. The project will extend MAX from Gateway Transit Center to Clackamas Town Center, and between Union Station and Portland State University between 5th and 6th avenues. Construction is expected to begin in fall 2006 and open in September 2009. Get project updates by signing up at

Then what

The South Corridor Project Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement published in December 2002 that included the 2nd extension into Clackamas County – from Portland State University to SE Portland and Milwaukie – will have to be amended beginning early next year led by Metro. That work will focus on the connection across the Willamette River to Portland State University, and on the transit center and alignment in Milwaukie that was considered by a citizen committee last year and formally approved by the Milwaukie City Council. That South Corridor Phase 2 project could open in 2014.

In the meantime, a new phase of a bi-state study is considering a joint highway and transit project in the I-5 Corridor, crossing Portland’s other river to Vancouver. That study was led by the two state DOTs. A governor’s task force prepared recommendations in June 2005 that calls for a multi-modal approach to addressing the significant bi-state transportation needs. A light rail extension north from the Expo Center is being considered in that study, alongside bus options. Information on that effort is available at

MAX has become a signature of our region and a tool for providing mobility while building and preserving neighborhoods. The success of MAX has made the Portland region a national model we can be proud.

Washington County Commuter Rail Back on Track

US Senator Gordon Smith today met with Washington County officials announcing he has secured a commitment from US Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta to allow the Washington County Commuter Rail project to move forward. The event was held at TriMet’s Beaverton Transit Center, the first station along the 14.7-mile Washington County Commuter Rail project.

In February the project was recommended in the President’s budget, but has since been stalled due to an 11th hour rule change by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) adjusting their cost effectiveness calculation, bumping the project out of range to get a recommended rating and a Full Funding Grant Agreement.

Senator Smith led the Oregon Delegation in securing a legislative fix to the FTA’s new rules and allow the project to move into construction. He also worked with the delegation in getting language in the Transportation Reauthorization bill that just passed Congress that would also remove the FTA roadblock.

Additionally, Senator Smith has secured $15 million for the project in the Senate Appropriations bill, and will work with the rest of the delegation to ensure the $15 million remains in the final appropriations bill expected to pass Congress in October.

“Senator Smith’s leadership and commitment means that in this heavily-congested corridor we will soon have an alternative mode of transportation,” said TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen. “He led the Oregon delegation in making sure this project will serve the cities of Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville.”

Washington County Chair Tom Brian said that local officials “have been advocating for this project for nearly a decade because it will improve mobility and will help strengthen the economic vitality of the cities along the alignment.”

Other local dignitaries attended today’s event to thank Senator Smith for his efforts, including Metro President David Bragdon, Washington County Commissioner Roy Rogers, Beaverton Mayor Rob Drake, Wilsonville Mayor Charlotte Lehan, Sherwood Mayor Keith Mays, Tigard City Councilor Sydney Sherwood and Tualatin City Councilor Jay Harris.

The project is now in final design, with 75 percent of the work complete. The design work will now begin again and should be completed by the end of year. The project is expected to sign a Full Funding Grant Agreement in mid-2006 and begin construction shortly thereafter. The commuter rail project could open in fall 2008.


The 14.7-mile commuter rail line would use existing freight tracks to add transit service in the heavily traveled I-5 and Hwy 217 corridor. The line would connect with MAX light rail in Beaverton, then travel to Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville. Travel time between the five stations would take 37 minutes, with service every 30 minutes during rush hour.