Bus on Route 70 Heads North from Milwaukie

Trimet is Taking Your Input & Preparing for Bus Route Changes… Have You Weighed In?

Bus on Route 70 Heads North from Milwaukie

Bus on Route 70 Heads North from Milwaukie

Here’s some of the suggestions that are in the lead to actually be implemented. People have pushed for more weekend service on the 19 route, they want the 31 and 33 to create one new line that will increase service and frequency on Harrison Street and King Road, which would then serve to connect Clackamas Town Center. You too can weigh in easily by going to the http://trimet.org/alerts/pmlrbuschanges/index.htm page and just click any of the “Weigh In” bubbles to the right of each route description and an email with a pre-populated subject line will appear. Add your comment (and likely your name, address and where you do or plan to live in that area and how it would affect or effect your daily travel).

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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.

Meetings, Starting the Day and Trimet Bus #4

Overall, I have an odd day compared to many people. I don’t go to a specific office, nor location, but often to many different locations. I do this so that I can go to the people that I need to meet. I don’t use a car, that would make this style of life a rather unfortunate and morbid business. Not to say I haven’t experienced this lifestyle with a car, I have, and know it’s an unfortunate and morbid business because of that. In great luck and fortune I’ve been able to work my life into living and working this way. It’s a great benefit to myself and also a great benefit to those that I work with.

Today I had a number of places to go to throughout the city of Portland. One in the north eastern part of the city, one meeting in the south easy and one in downtown. Each of these meetings was business related, but also personal, for each of the people I’d be going to meet are friends. Again, one more thing to work towards in life, work and live in and around friends. It beats the hell out of working and living around mere acquaintances and enemies.

Another key to this day, each meeting was spaced perfectly. I wouldn’t need to hurry between each meeting so I could use a more relaxed and slower form of transportation. I decided it was going to be a transit only day. Usually, when there are a lot of meetings I use the fastest mode for city transportation, the bicycle. Yes, that’s right, and don’t even get me started, the bicycle is easily the fastest way to get around in any urban landscape. The automobile has to be one of the slowest (along with NYC buses). With that key bit of information ascertained I was off.

I started the day in north east Portland near Alberta street. Walking down the street on this cool brisk day my first ride was going to be the westward bound #72 Bus. The first meeting just a short 8 minute ride away at Coffee House Five at Albina and Killingsworth. The #72 is a great bus, usually arriving much more often than a freqent service bus (this by Trimet’s definition is every 15 minutes). Usually the #72, as with any non-dedicated right of way running transportation, gets bunched at times. Everything from traffic lights to people crossing the street throw a wrench in the scheduling, so the #72 is sometimes running in clumps of 5, 7 or some short variance between buses. Today was no exception. As I walked to the stop a bus drove by. But as I arrived at the stop another #72 arrived which I boarded.

Westward the bus rolled. The short distance was covered in not 8, but 7 minutes. Yes, I timed it because I tend to count everything. I strolled into Coffee House Five. Inside the regular chill crew was slinging the rounds. A cappuccino here and a macchiato there. It’s a consistent shop with a precocious vibe. Something that’s pleasant considering the onslaught of “San Francisco” vibe style coffee shops invading our Portland vibe these days. I enjoyed my cap and a standard boring bagel and cream cheese. After my meeting I walked across the street and waiting two minutes for the arrival of the south bound #4 heading into Portland.

The bus pulled up and she and I left for Portland.

Conversations Overheard

I pulled out my laptop, as I do, to write this blog entry and other material related to other things. While sitting in the raised rear seat by the back door of the bus a lady joined me. I went on with my typing and into the trip a ways she received a phone call. That phone call was rather interesting, and went something like this.

“Hello.”

…  [the other person talking]

“Yes, funny thing, I’m on the bus and I dropped off the car to get detailed. It’s actually a lot easier to just leave the car and take the bus into town, it only takes about 15 minutes.”

… [other person asking why she even brought the car down]

“Oh, I wanted to get it detailed. But usually I drive and then just park it somewhere to come into town. No really, it’s far easier than trying to park and figure out what is close to where I’m trying to go.”

… [other person realizes, yes, that this is obviously true, then says something about coming into town]

“Yeah, since it would take only 30 minutes to get into the city just take the bus.”

… [says something about the MAX]

“Oh yeah, that would actually be faster to get there [referring to Lloyd Center] and then you can just take the MAX or bus over to the city.”

… [says farewell, thanks and something else]

“See ya later.”

Then she turns to me and asks if Couch is closer to this or the next stop. I tell her the first stop we’re coming to is pretty close by one block. She then decides to get off there.

It just strikes me interesting when people make this realization, that there is little reason to drive into downtown Portland and that it is indeed, actually a bad idea. Just go to a park and ride or otherwise and do everybody and yourself a favor, leave the car outside of downtown.

Willamette Crossing

The bus went through downtown, turned onto the southern part of the #4 route toward Gresham and left downtown via the Hawthorne Bridge. I looked south toward the new bridge construction for the transit, bike and pedestrian only bridge. It’s a gorgeous structure that will eventually be immensely useful. I can only imagine what the final through count on that bridge will be when the buses, light rail, cycle and pedestrians are rolling across it daily.

Onward up Division the bus rolled, I eventually got off near 50th, close to where my next meeting would be and decided I’d hang out at Stumptown for a few. In I went and wrapped this blog entry up…   happy transiting all, regardless of your mode; feet, hull, wheel or wing.

Ride To… Downtown Portland on Trimet Bus #6 – AKA Why Stereotypes Are Wrong

Boarded the #6 today. Another one of those days were life countermands stereatypes. Not that stereotypes are any good except as a joke (which I suppose that’s where they’re used most of the time anyway). I walked straight to the back of the bus for the last seat. The last seat is was center of bus between two people.

Stereotypes

As the bus pulled away from the Alberta and MLK stop an average person would assume many things. An average American might assume that I’m poor. An average person might assume that everybody on this bus is poor or close to below the poverty income. They might assume that the younger individuals are from broken homes and that the older folk are almost destitute. The average American might think that half the bus smokes pot. Average Americans would probably judge this bus to be full of uneducated individuals, that probaby didn’t attend high school.

Out of all those stereotypes about transit users there is one that’s true. It’s a fact about all of the population of the United States however, not just transit riders. Can you guess which one it is? Keep reading, I’ll let you in on that trivia in a bit. For all the other stereotypes the average American is wrong. Horribly, embarrassingly wrong. Let’s take a dive into this bus full of people and who they are.

You might ask how I know who these people are. Well, that’s easy. I talk to all of these people. I talk to my neighbors and the people in my community. Transit and urban living give a person, including myself, the maximum potential to connect with communities and have true transformative positive effect on society. It is the most dynamic, open minded, inclusive way to live in the United States. After all, the country is a melting pot, and the reason it is a melting pot is because of the cities and urban lifestyles.

Bus Demographics

This bus today, the 6 that arrives at the Convention Center transfer point at 9:45am, is full of a total melting pot of people. Even for white Portland it’s a diverse group of interesting, intelligent, educated and educating people. Here’s the break out.

Over the course of my trip 49 people got on and 58 people got off. 12 people were still on board when I got off. Doing a little math, double checking, and having sat on the back of the bus where I can see everybody and count like an obsessive compulsive, that totals 70 total riders that I saw while on the bus. The on and off occurred at many stops along the way, with the biggest exodus (11 people) from the bus to transfer to the MAX at Convention Center.

The bus was approximately 37 people of Western European descent (that’s caucasion), there were 13 black, 10 asian, 8 of mexican & South American descent and the last few I could tell. There were 37 men and 33 women.

As far as I could verify from people I know, identification hanging lazily at their side and other means I attained some other information about these riders. Several were heading to school, some to college and some to trade schools. Many of the riders were headed to work. However the bulk of people were out running their daily errands. It was about a 55% to 45% split between people out taking care of the daily life necessities and 45% heading off to business of some sort.

The other measurement, I know because I know the stats on Trimet ridership in Portland, is that over 60% of these people are riders that could have driven in an automobile but elected not to. They instead chose not to, for a multitude of reasons. Even though I didn’t get to talk to every single one of these people riding the bus I could tell, just by activities some of these reasons.

Reasons to Take Transit

Music: The number of people with earphones or headphones hit a peak of 16 people during the short commute in this morning. Those people could be seen enjoying their music, sometimes with heads bobbing back and forth a bit. Some scrolling through changing songs. But all of them were enjoying the opportunity to listen to music and just relax, sit back and not focus on anything but the music.

TV / Movie: One person was finishing up Shrek with their child. Yup, this parent was able to sit with a headphone splitter and watched the movie with their young girl. Both were polite, obivously the child being raised well, as they laughed the covered their mouths and looked at each other. Smiling and holding in an outright burst of laughter. The smile were contagious though and some of the people sitting behind them were giggling silently too while the commute progressed.

Another two people talked, while looking at each other and paying attention to a complex topic. They discussed how some type of architectural structure would work and after a moment pulled out some blue prints on an iPad and commenced to discuss and work through their discussion. They continued to gain more and more understanding as they worked through various floors and designs.

Another odd number, 5 total, had their laptops out and were working through a number of things. One person I could tell was working with office documents, another was writing some JavaScript code for a website they were building, and the others were beyond my perview. I only could see that the laptops were out and they were typing away with their keyboards.

Last metric, most of the people on the bus are employed above poverty line, and more than 30% are employed above median income (that’s more than 40ish thousand a year these days). In Portland, a little math will tell you this by simple looking at the demographics, looking at who takes transit, and the minimum amount of what percentage of what incomes are riding the bus. The math comes out pretty good and shows that the vast majority of riders are not poor, nor are they limited to only transit. They could be using other means, but indeed choose to make transit their mode.

Stereotypes Are Often Misinformed

Just like racism, sexism and other such absurd stereotypes that belittle and estrange people. So do stereotypes about people that take transit. The average American that might assume the bus is full of poor people, would be wrong. The stereotype that people are from broken homes, destitute or otherwise, also terribly wrong. Uneducated, lower than average IQ and a host of other stereotypes. All wrong.

The simple fact is, the average American assumption about transit is just wrong. In summary, the average American is wrong. So stop being average, take some transit, learn about your city and get out and among the people that keep this country ticking.

Oh, and the one thing you can assume though, is that the majority of people in this nation have actually tried pot. So besides enjoying your city, go ahead, light it up. Ya know, if you have the freedom to. We all will again eventually. 😉

Cheers, Transit Sleuth

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

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