Looking northwest to downtown Portland (click for full size image)

5 Reasons the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail Project already Rocks!

Crossing the Hawthorne on the #4 looking south toward the Marquam, Tilikum, and Ross Island Bridges.

Crossing the Hawthorne on the #4 looking south toward the Marquam, Tilikum, and Ross Island Bridges. (click the image for full size image, or the respective bridge names for their Wikipedia entry)

I left about 11:30am today to get some lunch and take care of some coding, video taking, and some exploration. I’d been meaning to get into Milwaukie to check out how the work has been going on the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail (PMLR) line. I also wanted to snap some photos and video of the area. It turned out, I was in luck. I was able to get a lot of this done along with getting a few shots and commentary put together for numerous different parts of the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail line.

So here are a few of my discoveries…

Continue reading →

Portland’s PMLR Project, Where I’m Moving (One of These Days)…

First point of context. The PMLR stands for the Portland-Milawukie Light Rail Project. The name is somewhat misleading, because it is dramatically more than merely a simple little light rail project. I’ll add more context to what exactly it is over the blog entries following this one. For now, I want to detail a particular chunk of the area where the PMLR is being built that I’ve decided I’d like to live one day.

As I’ve been traveling back and forth between southeast and downtown Portland I’ve made many trips through the inner southeast industrial area near OMSI. The Tilikum Bridge is going in just south of OMSI and a number of streetcar, light rail, road, bicycle and pedestrian amenities are being added to the area. It’s rather exciting for a future prospective resident of the area surrounding the line.

The Tilikum Bridge looking west almost a year ago.

The Tilikum Bridge looking west almost a year ago.

Currently I’m still pretty much a downtown urbanite Portlander and also have spent a few years living on the inner east side near Clinton (closer to Division for a year and closer to Powell for another year). But with the addition of the PMLR I intend to buy a house and move somewhere near the first 2-3 stops of the line on the east side of the river. At least ideally. Basically, somewhere in this area:

A simple map of the area around the PMLR where I'm intending to buy a home.

A simple map of the area around the PMLR where I’m intending to buy a home.

Here’s a map from Google Maps that shows more detail specifically where I’m looking and where some sweet spots will be in relation to the PMLR. There’s a bunch of others, but these are my picks so far.

The prospective areas I'd like to move to, rated by priority choice (at least at this time, maybe that'll change)

The prospective areas I’d like to move to, rated by priority choice (at least at this time, maybe that’ll change)

The areas that have ? marks in them have planned development, mostly towers or higher density housing stock. This could be cool, but also could be super lame, I’ve no idea nor is anything certain in that area. I’d also like to not look directly at an interstate or major highway of any sort. The further from a primary arterial and the closer I can be to people and places that depend on bicycles, transit or walking the better.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to add a lot more information about the PMLR and why it’s acting as a major impetus to actually move to the area and buy (of course, depending on a number of other things that take place in the next few years in this nation and based on the actions that this date kicked off).

Anyway, enjoy, the countdown has begun. Trimet even posted a massive countdown clock!

PMLR Countdown Site (Officially 358 days from opening!)

PMLR Countdown Site (Officially 358 days from opening!)

Proposed Additions to Trimet Service and Modifications

This last week Trimet released information regarding what bus service will look like that serves the new Portland Milwaukee Light Rail line area of operations. There are several specific bus lines that will have some added service enhancements and changes to the routes: 9, 17, 28, 31, 32, 33, 34 and 99.

Here’s a little cut of what the current routes look like and the area they cover.

Current Route Service Area. Click for full size image.

Current Route Service Area. Click for full size image.

One thing to note, is that all routes are to maintain frequency service levels. So if it is a 15 minute frequency or a 30 minute frequency, we can expect it to stay at those service levels. The differences in almost every route is an increase in net area of service, and slight alterations to the route that will make the service more reliable. Here’s a map of the proposed changes.

The Proposed Routes. Click for full size image.

The Proposed Routes. Click for full size image.

Out of all the changes there are two that will be the biggest changes of all. One I had no idea about and the other I’ve been looking forward to since initial discussions of this line many years ago.

Tilikum Bridge Changes

The Tilikum Bridge is the first transit, cycling and pedestrian only bridge in the city (probably in the United States west of the Mississippi I’d suspect, but I’d love to be corrected about that). The bridge is interconnecting many different points of transportation and hubs on both sides of the river. On the west side of the river it will connect to OHSU and the south waterfront, interconnect the streetcar, several bus routes and also connect the buses and light rail to the Lincoln Street Harbor Structure.

By funneling many of the buses onto the harbor structure and across the Tilikum Bridge Trimet will be making the bus routes dramatically more reliable and also increasing their speed into downtown. With the general frequency of each of these routes there may be some morning congestion between the MAX, #9 and #17 buses but overall the #9 and #17 will be much better off than trying to ply the streets with auto traffic across the Ross Island Bridge.

The #28 Does What?!?

The other change, which I’d not even realized was on the table, and I’ll admit complete ignorance about the route, is the #28. Honestly, I didn’t even know Trimet had a #28 route. So if anybody has any thoughts on this route I’d love to read them.

On that note, since I’m completely uninformed and have zero experience with this bus I intend to, in the coming next week or two, go and ride the bus for it’s entire current length. Likely during rush hour, but maybe in the middle of the day, I don’t know as I’ve no idea about its schedule either. So thoughts or if you’re interested in riding, let me know and we’ll take a trip together to sleuth out this route.

Trimet’s Complete List of Changes So Far

Here’s the complete list of changes so far. Trimet is still looking for input to determine the best changes and ways to serve the customers along these routes. So if you have any contention with this list or would like to see any other changes, get in touch with them at any of these meetings or communication means.

  • Line 9-Powell
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • The proposed routing change would shift the line from the Ross Island Bridge to the new Tilikum Crossing and then connect to the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.
    • Riders can transfer to the MAX Orange Line at OMSI/SE Water Ave, South Waterfront/SW Moody Ave or Lincoln St/SW 3rd Ave stations, plus all stations on the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.
  • Line 17-Holgate (no change to Broadway leg)
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • The proposed routing change would shift the line from the Ross Island Bridge to the new Tilikum Crossing and then connect to the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.
    • Riders can transfer to the new MAX Orange Line at five stations: SE 17th Ave & Holgate, SE 17th Ave & Rhine St, OMSI/SE Water Ave, South Waterfront/SW Moody Ave or Lincoln St/SW 3rd Ave stations, plus all stations on the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.
  • Line 28-Linwood
    • Maintain existing days and hours of service (weekdays about 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.).
    • Increase frequency from about every 70 minutes to about every 35 minutes.
    • New route into Downtown Milwaukie via Linwood Avenue, Johnson Creek Boulevard, Tacoma Street, and Main Street (including service to Milwaukie Park & Ride); continue south from SE Jackson Street as Line 34.
    • Riders can transfer to the new MAX Orange Line at SE Tacoma St/Johnson Creek or Milwaukie/Main St stations.
  • Line 31-King Rd
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • Maintain existing route to Downtown Milwaukie, where route would turn around.
    • Riders can transfer to the MAX Orange Line at Milwaukie/Main St Station (about a five-block walk from SE Jackson Street).
  • Line 32-Oatfield
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • Maintain existing route to Downtown Milwaukie, where route would turn around.
    • Riders can transfer to the MAX Orange Line at Milwaukie/Main St Station.
  • Line 33-McLoughlin
    • Maintain existing frequency, days and hours of service.
    • Maintain existing route to Downtown Milwaukie, where route would turn around.
    • Riders can transfer to the MAX Orange Line at SE Park Ave and Milwaukie/Main St stations.
  • Line 34-River Rd
    • Maintain existing days and hours of service (about 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.).
    • Increase frequency from about every 70 minutes to about every 35 minutes.
    • The routing between Oregon City to Downtown Milwaukie remains the same, and the line continues service north from SE Jackson Street as Line 28-Linwood. Line 28 would serve the Milwaukie Park & Ride, SE Tacoma/Johnson Creek Park & Ride and Clackamas Town Center.
    • Riders can transfer to the new MAX Orange Line at Milwaukie/Main St Station or at SE Tacoma St/Johnson Creek Station via Line 28.
  • Line 99-McLoughlin Express
    • Maintain existing frequency for the weekday rush-hour only service.
    • The proposal would add service from Downtown to the south during the morning commute and from the south to Downtown during the afternoon commute. Service in both directions during weekday rush hour runs between about 5:30 a.m. until 8:45 a.m. and 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.
    • New route into Downtown Portland via Sellwood Bridge with limited stops on Tacoma Street, Macadam Boulevard and Corbett Street to existing route on the Downtown Portland Transit Mall. The route change would occur when the Sellwood Bridge is open to bus traffic. In the meantime, interim routing is being reviewed.
    • Transfer to MAX Orange Line at SE Park Ave, Milwaukie/Main St or SE Tacoma St/Johnson Creek stations, plus stations on the Downtown Portland Transit Mall.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be looking into these routes more and will have a few opinions and thoughts about it. Overall, this route, the bus changes, the amenity additions along the entire route and more are the biggest win for the Portland area in a number of years.

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

Episode 4: “Portland Milwaukie Light Rail, The Winter Rain & The Wreck”

http://vimeo.com/adronhall/pmlr

I’ll be producing more on the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail in the coming months, breaking out information about the new bike routes, light rail, pedestrian paths and all the improvements around the project. One of these days I’ll do a price break out so all the light rail haters can realize that a large bulk of the costs are actually for rebuilding the roadways in and around the light rail line. But until then, enjoy and happy travels!

Portland’s Milwaukee Light Rail Project – Under Construction, Opening in September 2015

First let’s kick this blog entry off with a few pieces of context, such as:

  • What is the Portland Milwaukee Light Rail Line?
  • Where exactly does it go?
  • How much does it cost and what does that cost actually include?

Answers…

“Opening in 2015, the Portland-Milwaukie light rail transit line will travel 7.3 miles between PSU, inner Southeast Portland, Milwaukie and Oak Grove in north Clackamas County.”

The best place to get information about the Portland Milwaukee Light Rail is to check out the project site. I have a few additional thoughts, pieces of information and other such things here in the post however.

Here’s a quick video intro of what the project is, what it connects and a little more information. It’s a short view.

The other key video to watch, which really gets down into where the line runs in detail and also covers the other things that will be built along with the light rail line.

The total cost of the Portland Milwaukee Light Rail (PMLR) Project is $1,490.35 Million[0]. In a follow up entry I’m going to bring up what exactly we’re getting for this huge chunk of cash. I’ll also do a break out of a few of the light rail stops and what those light rail stops mean to the neighborhoods they’ll serve.

After watching this project progress over the years it still leaves me with a number of questions. Many of these will be answered in due time, but it doesn’t stop me from being extremely curious.

  1. What buses will use the bridge instead of routes like the Ross Island Bridge?
  2. When the buses come across the bridge where do they get on or off on the west side? Will they continue on the new light rail part of the infrastructure on their way to the bus mall?  Will they turn off onto other surface streets in the area and travel in and out of south waterfront that way?
  3. Where’s the best house buying options in the area? Which area will increase in value the quickest? Which values may decrease?

More to come in the near future… cheers, Transit Sleuth.

References
[0] Portland-Milwaukee Light Rail Project Preliminary Engineering Report. Located at FTA: http://www.fta.dot.gov/documents/OR_Portland_Milwaukie_LRT_complete_profile.pdf and local store: Portland Milwaukee Light Rail