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Guest Post: Community Transit Double Tall Buses After One Year

This is a guest post from regular contributor Ron Swaren. Anyone who wishes to submit a guest post is welcome to contact the moderators and we will be happy to assist you.

704px-Community_Transit_Enviro_500.pngPhotograph by Takeshita kenji, courtesy of Wikipedia. Released under the GNU Free Documentation License (CC-BY-3.0). Click on picture for a larger image.

Community Transit
of Snohomish County, Wahington (north of Seattle) inaugurated its fleet of 23 “Double-Tall” express buses in March, 2011. The passenger capacity is equivalent to articulated buses (77 seated), but they perform much better in slippery conditions, and can shift weight in the rear axle. The length of 42 feet takes up less road space and was requested by the City of Seattle. Martin Mungia, information director for Community Transit, stated that while the number of passengers is typically about 40, a couple times a week they fill up to 100-110 riders.

There are two main routes using the double-talls (they are switched to other routes during the day): the 402 to Lynnwood , and the 405 to Edmonds Park and Ride. Technical data on the double-talls is available at this page.

They make one or two stops at Park and Ride lots in the suburban communities, take I-5 into Seattle, and make 5-7 stops downtown. Mr. Mungia also pointed out that the height of the vehicles –approx. 14 feet–provides desirable advertising space that is more visible, thus bringing in more revenue. Community Transit may purchase more vehicles in the future if economic conditions become more favorable. The cost of $850,000 per vehicle was higher than normal buses, but they think these will prove to be good investments over time.

The initial investment of $23 million was 88 percent covered by grants, substantially from WDOT “Regional Mobility Program” and by federal stimulus money. Alexander Dennis Co. based in Scotland, opened an assembly plant in Southern California where final assembly was accomplished, thus qualifying the buses under “Buy America” requirements. Similar vehicles are also being used in Victoria and Kelowna, BC.

The inaugural day of the new routes was covered in this entry at Community Transit’s blog.

Guest Post: Proposal for Upgraded Columbia Corridor/Bypass 30 Reroute

Another guest post by frequent reader and commenter dan w. We wish to remind readers that we are happy to run guest posts–simply email submissions to one of the moderators–ES.

Serving the Rivergate Industrial District, Portland Airport and a plethora of other
industrial/employment centers, the Columbia Corridor–aka Bypass 30 and its parallel routes–is a vital freight and commuter corridor but isn’t always on the collective radar. Indeed, this study dating back to pre-Y2K days is one of the few documents I could find that focus on this corridor. The document defines Columbia Corridor as extending between Rivergate and Troutdale, but for my proposal outlined below I’m focusing on the section between Rivergate and I-205.

After the jump….
(Click on link for full-sized image)

Mostly utilizing existing ROW, rerouting Bypass 30 onto this newly upgraded corridor would help relieve pressure on congested I-84 (freight rail improvements as outlined by local and state proposals are also a key component but I opted not to include them on my map). Also, while current bus service only runs along a few segments of the corridor, BRT or something similar along its entire length has the potential to serve countless employers. It can connect with the Red and Yellow MAX lines and various bus routes including 6, 70, 72 and 75.

Phase 1 should be relatively inexpensive and low-impact to implement (assuming a full freeway isn’t the chosen option). One option is an expressway, which is a combination of at-grade and grade-separated interchanges (think Hwy 224 between McLoughlin and I-205). In fact, several grade-separated facilities already exist on this corridor, and frontage roads and driveway consolidations along various stretches should also help with traffic flow. The key is to not have implementation of the corridor be so disruptive that it ends up eliminating huge chunks of the industrial facilities to which we’re trying to improve access.

Option A – NE Lombard to MLK (includes new ROW between Lombard Pl and MLK/ Columbia intersection)
Option B – Columbia Blvd to MLK

Option A – MLK to Marine Dr to N. Lombard
Option B – Columbia Blvd (includes new ROW to the north between Portland Rd and Upland Dr to skirt residential area) to N. Burgard

Although it tacks a couple of extra miles onto the corridor, I prefer Option A for the west segment because: 1) It generally avoids residential areas, 2) MLK between I-5 and Columbia is already pretty much limited access, 3) unlike Option B, a full interchange already exists at I-5, and 4) it offers direct access to my proposed Columbia River bridge.

Both east segment options have their advantages, but I’d prefer to have BRT run on Columbia rather than Lombard because it would directly serve more employers.

Phase 2…. Here comes the fun expensive part. Inspired by others’ posts on this blog, this part of the proposal calls for the corridor to connect to new bridges over the Willamette and Columbia, the latter being a third-bridge CRC alternative.

Guest Post: A proposal for a downtown rail tunnel

This guest post is by Portland Transport reader dan w. We are always happy to publish well-written, topical guest posts; contact myself, Chris, or Bob if you are interested.–ES

The idea of putting MAX underground through downtown Portland has been around for some time, and I’ve had a concept for a MAX subway that, with the help of an ancient version of CorelDraw, I finally sketched out recently. It’s inspired in part by a basic concept I vaguely remember from an long-ago Tribune or Oregonian article (it could have been something proposed by Jim Howell’s group but I’m not sure) that I’ve fleshed out in my head over the years.

In addition to hopefully alleviating the speed and capacity constraints of the current system, my concept has all lines serving the same small group of “core” stations (e.g., Union Station, PSU) and can allow for buses to share the tunnel with trains a la Seattle. Of course, the current fiscal climate will likely relegate underground MAX to “pipe dream” status for decades to come (maybe Subway Sandwiches can sponsor the stations? [dodges rotten tomatoes])

Click on the map for a higher-resolution version.