Portland Milwaukie Light Rail Bus Planning

In the coming months Trimet is going to be putting together a bus plan for the redundant service along the new corridor. The simple reasoning is that buses cost more to operate over time than light rail, a lot more, and the ideal situation is to get as many people to take the light rail and operate feeder service to get people to the light rail. This is a tricky process, here’s a few of the reasons why:

  • Some bus lines would be more logical, like the #33, the stop in Milwaukie¬†or the last stop of the PMLR line and transfer all passengers to a waiting MAX train. The MAX won’t have traffic to battle, will have an easier and faster ingress trip and egress trip out of the city. Timing the connection with the #33 will be really easy, as the service can now operate as an extension of the light rail service instead of fighting with traffic on McLoughlin (the bulk of its trip between Portland and Milwaukie). So a large part of the #33 route could be canceled, saving millions per decade and putting that money into other bus operations and capital such as the #33 between Oregon City and Milwaukie.
  • Other bus lines get tricky, the #19 for instance will cross over (with its current route) the new MAX at one of the stations. But the route on either side of that serves people that may or may not be going downtown. Beyond that, making connections with the MAX is more difficult because of its less than frequent service and which direction would connect with which MAX? The #19 wouldn’t just be merely an extension, but instead would act largely like a feeder. An example would be, if someone got on in the suburbs, instead of riding the whole route it would be faster to deboard and alight the coming MAX train, that would arrive in town faster and more reliably than the #19 bus would. This route then becomes a question of, “what to do?” Increase service? Leave it untouched? Decrease service between X & Y points, increase service immediately between MAX connection points to enable better connector service?
  • #31 and #32 both come from various parts of the metro area and converge on McLoughlin, again making for a perfect direct connection with the MAX. However both buses are arguably faster during low traffic times and slower during higher traffic times. Both bus routes are generally low ridership, so connecting the transfers to the MAX might behoove costs, but maybe not ridership. It however could have the opposite affect on ridership and increase. Would having the end points connected between Clackamas Town Center (where one of the buses goes) vs. where the other goes be improved if we bumped up service levels and connected it reliably to the MAX line going in? What would be the loss vs. the gain of doing so? Whatever the case, it isn’t smart continuing to run these two routes as is when the MAX line offers a lower cost option than running the bus just for the few riders that do take it along the McLoughlin Corridor – in this case, one would logically try the increased connector service but eliminate the service along McLoughlin into downtown. This would create a two-seat (ie. a transfer is required) ride to downtown but it would make for a dramatically more cost efficient ride if the ridership stays relatively the same on these routes or slightly increases. If it increases dramatically it would still be best to transfer riders to the MAX instead, as more service could be provided overall.

Have you thought much about how the service will change, what might change, or thought about getting involved? If any of these buses are ones you ride you should check out the upcoming bus service planning around the opening of the PMLR line. You can’t wait and expect to make a difference, you have to get involved now! Here’s a list of the lines that will be affected with the opening of the PMLR in 2015 (and possibly sooner even).

  • 9-Powell Blvd
  • 17-Holgate/Broadway
  • 19-Woodstock/Glisan
  • 28-Linwood
  • 29-Lake/Webster Rd
  • 30-Estacada
  • 31-King Rd
  • 32-Oatfield
  • 33-McLoughlin
  • 34-River Rd
  • 35-Macadam/Greeley
  • 36-South Shore
  • 43-Taylors Ferry Rd
  • 66-Marquam Hill/Hollywood
  • 70-12th/NE 33rd Ave
  • 75-Cesar Chavez/Lombard
  • 99-McLoughlin Express
  • 152-Milwaukie

Division Street is Looking Great! Let’s Destroy Division Street!

There’s new construction on Division & 32nd that has the road torn up and down to one lane. The construction gaurd is polite, offers me immediate passage across the street to the bus stop. I’m one of the many lucky souls in Portland that lives within a hundred feet of a bus, light rail, passenger rail or streetcar stop. Today I’m boarding the trusty #4 Route Bus into downtown Portland.

As the construction gaurd flips his sign from stop to slow, the traffic from the western direction, which is where my bus is arriving, starts to trickle through. I stand at the bus stop prepared to board. I check my smart phone to insure that I’ve purchased a day pass. I verify that I have and count the seconds. One car, two car, three car and four. The bus then pulls through and stops gingerly in front of me.

I step aboard to prevent any lingering wait that the cagers surely draw frustration from. The driver is already smiling and greets me with a “it’s really running the gauntlet today”. He refers to Division Street as a whole. From 39th to 10th or so it has been under construction from many months, if not more than a year now.

Division Street Grows Into Something Worthwhile

Four years ago Division Street was nothing but a small two lane arterial that switched into 4 lanes at random places. It is a residential street with front yards and children playing nearby. Now it is under immense pressure to become consistent, to grow in a smarter way than just acting as a naive arterial only for cars.

Division has grown sidewalks for the length of the street from 8th all the way to 82nd. Before there were gaps, dangerous gaps. Division has gone from inconsistency of two or four lanes to a solid two lanes from 82nd to 8th. At 8th is where something new is sprouting in the Portland & Milwaukee Light Rail Line. Between 12th and 30th there are fixes to and dramatic additinos of bioswales and other road amenities. These amenities are known to increase pedestrian and motorist safety. Between 60th and 82nd the lanes have gone from an unwieldy and dangerous four lanes to two, consistent with the rest of the street. Along the sides now are buffered bike lanes and other amenities for bus pull outs, timed traffic lights and other small items that help the flow of all traffic, not just cars.

Slowly Division itself becomes something, with bioswales and a consistent two lanes for its length. Service on the road is getting an increase in just a few more weeks. The #4 Trimet Bus is increasing back to what is referred to as frequent service. This means 15 minute frequency or better throughout the day. Beyond frequent service there is also going to be an increase for rush hour.

Slowly the auto dependency of Division is becoming less violent and fading into a small nuissence that provides a meager enabler for the street. Already today, actively there are three transportation means that already rule over the automobile when looked at as a whole; public transit, biking and walking. Not only have these modes become the dominent form of transport for customers to the growing businesses along Division. These modes, now dramatically safer with the taming of traffic violence, are once again becoming of dominant use to those teaching, attending and maintaing the schools in the area. That’s thousands and thousands of trips that no longer rely on the automobile, decreasing the auto-dependency of those that now have this new freedom.

A True Place

Some screamed when all of this started. Capitalism was at play in a huge way taming the automobile here. Some hate that, some love it. The city gave liberty to developers and stopped forcing them by regulation and law to build parking. If they saw a reason not to or demand didn’t dictate they simply didn’t have to build apartments with parking. Some of the residents saw this as a massive problem. With multiple apartments open that are without parking, there is still no shortage of parking. With the largest of the apartments without parking ready to open in the coming month or two, there still is a growing sense that this will become an enabler to the area versus a detractor.

Along this corridor the city has seen a dramatic increase in businesses opening up. This is in addition to new homes, apartments and other domiciles for people to live in the city. Almost 5x as many businesses, many local, now exist compared to just two years ago. Most of these businesses are now doing a brisk trade too. When auto-dependency ruled the street the businesses popped up but then immediately suffered. These businesses, many catering to the automobile, had not only been hurt by the auto-dependency but also hurt the existing businesses that were there before. The street was a ghost town as the 60s and 70s rolled in.

Let’s Destroy It All

Years ago the shortsighted advocates of auto-dependency wanted to pave all of Division, forcefully relocate the residents, destroy the homes all the way out to Clinton Street and possibly as far as Lincoln street in some cases on the other side. What they wanted to do, to be sure anybody could drive as fast as possible from downtown Portland to I-205 and the suburbs was build a new Interstate. They wanted to destroy all of this under the false guise that it would somehow make the neighborhoods better if they have more auto-dependent access. We know now, and thankfully didn’t make this mistake, that Interstates and increased auto-dependency do not increase livability or the quality or value of one’s neighborhood. If anything it pushes people further away and creates a massive thing that most people don’t actually want to live anywhere near.

As I ride through and down Division today to run my errands, enjoy an espresso and head into downtown for a few meetings I’m extremely happy that Division and most of the respective southeast neighborhood wasn’t destroyed to make way for an Interstate. The thousands of people that live here and enjoy an extremely high standard of living would have been left with a dwindling and disused neighborhood. A neighborhood that would have had little hope for repair. Now the neighborhood is anything but that. The number one reason why is because the city and the people of the city didn’t allow an Interstate to be cut through the area!

Until later, happy riding.

So What’s Your Take on Graffiti? Is it Art? What About Mold?

There’s a very interesting point to be made in this Instagram photo and the comment that goes along with it.

Get That Graffiti! (Click to navigate to the original Instragram Post)

Get That Graffiti! (Click to navigate to the original Instragram Post)

There always seems to be a thin line between graffiti, tagging, art, mural and related things in public. One person’s art is another person’s disgust it always seems. So where does one draw the dividing line between a crap building and a good building, one that is blight and one that is not? In the picture, it’s obvious that the real problem is just as much the mold as the tags that were on the wall. It just makes one think, “what’s ok and what isn’t?” I’m always pondering how we could improve things in Portland.

I’ve always drawn differentiations between graffiti as something that is masterful, tagging as something done in disrespect and is trashy, murals as something the community has done and is similar in many ways to graffiti and art can be almost anything. Albeit there is one place where any types of markings are dangerous and uncalled for. Don’t tag the freight cars, there’s important information there. There’s also murals and other montages that have been put on the sides of trains before. Then there is the dreaded advertisement that ends up on the side of trains and such.

So what are the divides? How would you identify each of these divides? What offends you, bothers you or gives you a smile to wear on your face?

Cuz’ The Northwest is Rocking the Cycling and Seattle is Starting to Lead the Pack!

Recently Seattle stepped up its game even more. Not only is a streetcar line soon to open between King Street Station, First Hill and Capital Hill but also a cycle track is going in on Broadway. I knew all about the streetcar line going in but holy moly I’d no idea they were getting a cycle track too. A trip will be scheduled and I’ll be aiming to bring some of the cycle track and streetcar action to you via Transit Sleuth TV once they’re both open! Here’s a sneak peek via Streetsblog.

The streetcar system is connecting three major points in Seattle, this is going to be a pretty big deal. Here’s a summary of the four places. For more official information about the streetcar service, check out Seattle Streetcar.

King Street Station @ Pioneer Square area to Chinatown then thru First Hill & Capital Hill

King Street Station is the Amtrak Station¬†that has recently been returned to it’s proper magnificent glory of yesteryear. In some ways it is also the northern terminus for Sounder¬†commuter rail service from Tacoma and the southern terminus for Sounder service to Everett. It’s a gorgeous station, worth a trip by itself. There are a number of other things in the Pioneer Square area of downtown Seattle that are worth checking out. This area along with King Street Station is basically the southern terminus of the line. The line then traverses part of the International District (or still commonly referred to as Chinatown in Seattle) and then turns in the First Hill area. It continues through the First Hill area and into Capital Hill, which is one of the dense urban areas of the city where music, art and livability thrive. It also is partly rooted to the future Link Light Rail Station for Capital Hill. This connection point is poised to be one of the busiest areas of the city in the coming years, easily transforming the very vibrancy and life of Seattle.

The Broadway Cycletrack

If there is a sure fire way to avoid streetcar tracks on a bike, it’s to have a cycle track right next to them! Seattle has planned for this and the Broadway Street segment is going to have just that. Here’s a cross cut view of the cycle track next to the streetcar and road traffic on Broadway.

Seattle Transportation Department also has more information about cycletracks going in around Seattle along with some information about ones elsewhere.

Multnomah Street, Illegal Parking and Street Vandelism – Who to Call?

Alright fellow Portlanders, transit riders, bike riders and pedestrians – and hell, motorists too! Who does one call when people are illegally blocking the lane, illegally parked and blocking the cycle track, have vandalized or destroyed the road and amenities around the road to get these things fixed? Can I just volunteer to fix these things?

On NE Multnomah Street the city installed a cycle track from 15th all the way down to the Rose Quarter. Some of it is indeed just a bike lane, but much of it is a wonderfully relaxing cycle track. Except when motorists screw up and park inside and on top of the cycle track itself. How does this happen? Here’s a photo of a recent issue I encountered when riding that forced myself and Kristen @kristenmozian into the road. Which is fine in many ways, I’ve no problem taking the lane. However I tend to prefer not riding in the road with motorists if I don’t have to.

The cycle track with 6+ cars parked in it. (Click for full size! Also, plz excuse the distortion, a Nissan Pathfinder drove by while I was taking the panoramic shot)

The cycle track with 6+ cars parked in it. (Click for full size! Also, plz excuse the distortion, a Nissan Pathfinder drove by while I was taking the panoramic shot)

If you look to the left side and right side of this photo, you’ll notice not a single automobile is parked in the actual parkings spots. All indicating non-locals confused about what they’re doing. Another confusing matter, is all of the little plastic bollards are stripped from the street. Possibly because people have driven over them or what not. We really need some clearly marked METAL bollards. Ya know, kind of like they use when they actually intend to have real parking and divisions that are clearly marked. Here are some great examples of Bollards that actually count.

Here’s a map of where the obstructions were today. Between #1 and #2 was the roadway where the cars were parked in the cycle track. At #4 was were planters where moved from the yellow area into the cycle-track lane. At #3 was were more bollards have been knocked down or vandalized making them either invisible to motorists and cyclists or almost invisible. Which brings me to the next few points on this corridor.

NE Multnomah Street, with the obstruction and vandalism points. Click for full size image.

NE Multnomah Street, with the obstruction and vandalism points. Click for full size image.

The Planters Are Out of Place!!

This is a problem for motorists and cyclists. The planters on Multnomah along the bike way are also knocked out of place in a few places. The planters act as the primary division between the road and the cycle track. If the city wants people to bike who ordinarily wouldn’t come near a bike lane in the regular road, this isn’t going to help if one of the main cycle tracks in the city is treated as some back water country road. So that leaves me with some questions…

Questions!

  1. How does one get these things fixed?
  2. Is there a hotline?
  3. Is the city actually responsible for these things?
  4. Is there a way to start a drive, donate to or otherwise get these bollards upgraded to the point that they’re actually worth something?
  5. Maybe get a volunteer community group together to monitor and make sure the city stays on top of these problems?

I’m open to getting these things fixed, I’m open to volunteering and donating cash to make it happen. But if they aren’t going to get fixed in a serious and legitimate way (re: see the REAL bollards above) then I’d rather just get some critical mass events going to piss off the status quo. It seems Portland really is starting to need a solid re-awakening of its rebel spirit, because it’s become a place that is assumed to be ahead of the curve, but the city has started to just rest on its laurels.

Not good Portland. Let’s get going and kick some ass and get things back into gear. We’ve got progress to make toward a better future. As it is, we’re dumping crap on the next generation and shortchanging the city!