Archive | Westside Service Enhancement Plan

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.

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Westside Service Enhancement Plan

As noted earlier in the open thread, TriMet has announced the creation of something called the Westside Service Enhancement Plan. This plan, which has been underway since last year, is the first in a series of Service Enhancement Plans that the agency is planning to pursue. In 2013, TriMet will look at East County and the Southwest region (the latter, no doubt, in concert with the SW Corridor); in 2014, Clackamas County, and in 2015, North and central Portland. The Westside region–essentially Beaverton and Hillsboro–gets to go first.

Among the highlights proposed:

  • Reversal of the Red and Blue lines in Washington County, with the Red Line connecting PDX and Hillsboro, and the Blue Line connects Gresham with Beaverton TC.
  • High capacity transit along TV Highway between Beaverton and Hillsboro.
  • Increased N/S service in the corridor.
  • New Frequent Service routes along Hall Boulevard, Farmington Road, NW Cornell, 174th, 185th, and 229th.
  • BRT treatments in various areas
  • Improvements to the bike and pedestrian environment
  • Shuttle bus service, connecting MAX (and possibly other transit centers) to industrial parks–many of which are difficult to serve with standard bus service.

In related news, there is now a new revision of the TV Highway Corridor Plan (and its appendices).

As a resident of Beaverton, I’m certainly intrigued by this, and would like very much to see it happen. OTOH, funding is an issue–while it’s useful to plan for the future (including making plans for things you probably will never be able to fund), TriMet has some particularly severe financial issues to deal with, before this becomes much more than pie in the sky.

More specific thoughts after the jump.
A few random observations:

  • Swapping the Red and Blue in the westside is interesting–the number of riders that go all the way from Hillsboro to Gresham is likely rather small; and the nearly 2-hour journey from one side of the system to the other can impact reliability. (Generally, you want routes shorter than 2 hours between layover points). I do have a couple of questions: 1) Will the current single-track viaduct near Gateway, essentially limit frequencies on the Red Line? Right now, the Red operates at 15 minute headways, and no shorter; I’ve heard that the track configuration near Gateway places an effective limit on how many trains run to the airport. 2) If they are going to do this; how about sending the Green to Beaverton instead, and the Blue down the transit mall? There are other through services between the eastside and Washington County (though see notes below), but nothing connecting it with Clackamas County. This would also eliminate the U-shape of the Green that makes it redundant with many of the E/W bus lines it intersects.
  • What sort of high-capacity transit on TV? My assumption is BRT of some sort, particularly given the recent decision by the TV Highway planning community to treat it as an “urban arterial” as opposed to a “highway”; but this is a long ways off. The TV Highway planning document punts on the question of high-capacity transit, though it does recommend more limited improvements to transit service.
  • De-facto frequent service already exists on Hall, with the 76 and 78 multiplex providing close-to-fifteen minute headways between Beaverton and Tigard. FS would also be welcome on the current route of the 52 (Beaverton to Aloha via Farmington, and then north to PCC Rock Creek via 185th); 185th is a sufficiently wide arterial that BRT treatments would be appropriate as well. (Not to mention more crossing opportunities for pedestrians–between Baseline and TV, it frequently gets up to highway speeds). FS on Cornell (the 48) is also a welcome idea, and I’ve previously suggested extending the 48 into downtown via Barnes/Burnside, replacing the 20. (Some other bus can provide service on Cedar Hills Bvld). Frequent service on 229th (and 231st/Century, particularly if an extension of 231st is made through Noble Woods Park) also makes sense. On the other hand 174th presently has no transit service, and Washington County has recently deferred a proposed 173rd/174th undercrossing of US26, that might make this a more viable N/S corridor.
  • Anything which can be done to make bus service faster, is obviously welcome.
  • The idea of shuttle bus service to reach industrial parks, is interesting and useful.
  • One area of focus that’s missing is South Beaverton, in particular the South Cooper Mountain area–which technically is in the “westside” region (which is defined as anything north/west of Scholls Ferry Road). This area is kind of in a no-man’s land between the bulk of the westside and the SW Corridor area, but if Beaverton really plans to build high-density developments on the south face of Cooper Mountain, transportation links will be a major issue. The only bus service that comes close is the 62 (at Murrayhill) and the peak-hour 92; and Cooper Mountain (and its steep slopes, steep roads, and high-priced homes) will make connectivity with the rest of Washington County difficult. (In fact, much of the South Cooper Mountain area isn’t even within the TriMet service district). Could we see busses running on Tile Flat and Clark Hill roads in the future, bypassing Cooper Mountain to the west to connect the south-side to Aloha and/or Hillsboro?

Thoughts?