Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Top 10 Service Improvements // #3 - Tigard/Southwest

Part 3 of our ten-part series on proposed improvements to TriMet's concept map sends us into the Southwest suburbs of Portland. Tigard is a city that has a fair amount of transit service. However, it is still lacking in two major areas: (1) lack of service to large sections of the population, and (2) paths of transit and paths of actual people-traffic not going the same directions. TriMet has proposed new routings and connections in the area; I further these ideas and offer new suggestions on equitable and logical ways to make the system work better.

This June, TriMet will begin service on Line 97-Tualatin/Sherwood, the first completely new-service line in the city in years. This is quite significant, since (according to TriMet) there has never been a bus line connecting Tualatin and Sherwood. It will start as a rush hour-only bus line and will eventually be expanded to full service, possibly even running up SW 72nd Ave to the Tigard Park & Ride. Now that this major gap is being filled, we can start to dream about other changes.

Current Layout of Southwest Suburbs
Right now, Tigard TC serves as the major hub in the Southwest area, with bus lines branching out toward Tualatin, King City and Sherwood and other lines interconnecting with Beaverton, Portland, and Lake Oswego. Sherwood has no major transit hub; the two twin bus lines currently serve Langer Dr to Sherwood Blvd, turning around at Old Town Sherwood. Tualatin is even more complicated, with three significant "hubs" (Tualatin Park & Ride, Tualatin WES Station, and Mohawk Park & Ride), with Line 76 as the only major connecting point. WES Commuter Rail cuts through Tigard and Tualatin, stopping at Hall/Nimbus (near Washington Square), Tigard TC, and Tualatin Station near Boones Ferry & Nyberg St. In order to make these hubs effective, we need enough paths directed between them to make transfers reasonable without over-complicating things even more. (Click here to see TriMet's current system map for context.)

Line 12-Barbur used to run from Portland all the way to Sherwood via Tigard TC and King City. During the recession, they split the line at Tigard, making Line 94 serve Pacific Hwy between Tigard and Sherwood and letting Line 12 continue to Portland and Parkrose TC (where it connected to Line 21, another lob-off line). Needless to say, TriMet hastily designed these changes without really keeping the riders in mind, and has spent the last few years fixing what they messed up. Now, two lines run between Tigard and Sherwood: Lines 93 and 94. Line 93 runs between the actual transit center and Old Town Sherwood all week long; Line 94 runs between Downtown Portland and Old Town Sherwood via Barbur, Main St and Pacific Hwy. It stops at Main & Commercial, one block from the transit center, and runs weekdays only. Quite an improvement from the initial changes, but still a far cry from the optimal design.

The 76 and 78 cut through Washington Square and Tigard TC via Greenburg, providing 15-17 minute service together during the day all week, and then split at Tigard. The 78 travels to Lake Oswego via Hunziker, Tigard Triangle, PCC and Mountain Park. The 76 takes Hall southbound past Tigard City Hall to Durham, cutting over to Tualatin P&R, then serving Tualatin WES Station, Mohawk P&R, and Meridian Park Hospital. Service is hit and miss between Tigard and Tualatin, especially on weekends, as frequency goes from decent to suddenly very bad, and then even more quickly just ends, leaving Tualatin with a lack of consistent coverage that can be relied upon. (Note that there will improvements to Sunday schedules to add more early-mid morning and not-really-late night trips, as they have been heretofore nonexistent.)

The 45 drops in from Washington Square to serve 121st and Walnut before reaching Tigard TC. Also, Line 64 runs express to Tigard from Marquam Hill, stopping only at Tigard P&R and Tigard TC. Tualatin gets the 96 from Portland which runs decent peak hour service and a few quasi-midday trips; also the rush-hour 38 comes in to Tualatin from Portland via Kruse Way and 72nd. Lines 36 and 37 bridge the gap between Lake Oswego and Tualatin, with the 36 serving South Shore Blvd and Rivergrove (and Portland during rush hour), and the 37 providing absolutely terrible service on Country Club and Boones Ferry. To sum it up, there is somewhat decent direction to cover the usual commuter trips to and from Portland. But if anyone would want to actually travel within the Southwest suburbs, quite frankly, you are out of luck.

TriMet's Plan and My Plan
As opposed to Hillsboro, TriMet's concept plan for the Southwest section of the Metro area is solid, except for some gaps. My plan was created by taking my logical ideas and applying them to their overall picture. So what you will see in the next few paragraphs is a design that is mostly TriMet's idea but augmented just enough to make it a little more smooth and a lot more effective. You can read TriMet's Southwest Service Enhancement Plan Final Report (with map) here. Unlike my last few posts, I won't have a map for every single line, so please refer to the area map or use your imagination if you need help perceiving them in your mind. (Okay, I'm sure you can use Google Maps too. I'll make it easy for you.)
The Transit Rider PDX version of the Southwest concept map
12-Barbur Blvd & 64-Marquam Hill/Tigard
      According to my plan, there would be few changes to either of these lines, if any. Line 12 works pretty well as is, save for any better timed transfers with other lines like the "93". Actually, my only plan with the 12 in Southwest is to have some rush hour trips come into Tigard and become Line "93" buses, helping riders who are traveling from somewhere along Hwy 99W get down the road easier during commuter hours. I don't have any suggested changes for Line 64. (My one major proposal for Line 12 is to have it serve Portland International Airport on the other end by laying over at Parkrose, turning up I-205 to Airport Way, looping through the Airport, and returning to Parkrose where it would layover again. This would provide an alternative to the Red Line if it breaks.)

94-Pacific Hwy/Sherwood
      Notice how I put the 93 in scare quotes? That's because I believe that the 93 and 94 should be one route. I think that all trips should serve Tigard TC, and every other trip would run express to downtown. Wouldn't this make so much more sense? Now, TriMet wants to avoid sending all the 94 buses during rush hour through the Tigard TC. And I say you don't need to. There is a perfectly good sidewalk on the other side of the abnormally wide Commercial Street that could be used as a 94 bus stop. Buses to Sherwood could turn left from Main onto Scoffins, right Ash, right Commercial through the stop across the street from the main bus bays, and left Main. Buses to Tigard would do the exact same thing, just starting from Main and turning right onto Scoffins (all buses would run clockwise). The only sticky situation here is that the turn from Main onto Scoffins is a bit tight for a 40-foot bus. However, a little planning and cooperation with the City of Tigard and you could create an easy turn that would help all the buses flow smoothly through Old Town Tigard while allowing riders to make all their transfers easily and efficiently.

45-Garden Home
      Fooled ya! TriMet wants to take the 45 bus from Portland to Beaverton TC via Garden Home, 92nd, Scholls Ferry, Denny, and Hall. So this line would no longer go anywhere near Tigard. Obviously, some line(s) should make up this gap in service!

62-Murray Blvd
      Remember the question at the top of my post a few days ago with the long list in it? Murray Blvd
and Walnut St now make a thoroughfare from Cedar Mill to Tigard, and the 62 should be changed to reflect this. It would run straight from Cornell Rd all the way to Pacific Hwy, only detouring to serve the Millikan Way MAX station. This would take the service from the 45 on Walnut between Tiedeman/Fonner and Hwy 99W, and will add service between Scholls Ferry and Tiedeman. TriMet has a plan to keep the 62 going to Washington Square alongside the 56 on Scholls Ferry, while bringing the 37 (I know, random, right?) over to serve Walnut to Progress Ridge. I think this is inconsistent with current road design logic. It is rooted in the dependency of people going from Murray directly to Scholls Ferry, which has always been nice but doesn't give flexibility to change for the better. In a later post, I will explain how I have designed the transfer between the 56 and 62 to make it easier on people who use this path. But the 62 needs to go down Walnut, plain and simple. This is what we call "progress."

78-Beaverton/Lake Oswego & 76-Beaverton/Tualatin
      TriMet has been planning for years to make Line 76 a Frequent Service line, and it needs it. Service on these two lines between Beaverton and Tigard is already at 15-17 minutes during the day all week, but it's the other times that are hit and (usually) miss, besides the lack of service to Tualatin. By turning the 76 to Frequent Service, it gives flexibility of moving the 78 so that it is not providing redundant service and can serve new roads. TriMet has proposed to take the 78 out of Tigard TC onto Hall Blvd northbound and have it serve Hall all the way to Washington Square, then have it turn up Scholls Ferry to Allen and jump over to Lombard, taking that road along with the 88 to Beaverton TC. I like this idea, as Allen has little service to speak of east of Lombard. This will also better serve the north Tigard communities and Metzger.

      In June, TriMet is launching Line 97 between Sherwood and Tualatin, which is a welcome sight. This line should serve the south Sherwood area, something that has never been served before. In the future, TriMet hopes to extend the service further north by having it serve 72nd Ave north of Tualatin. It would run straight up 72nd all the way to Hwy 99W, replacing the Line 38 service there. It would serve the Tigard Park & Ride, then run back down Hwy 99W into Tigard TC. This is a reasonable inter-community connection that would help improve one of the major north/south routes in Tigard,

38-Boones Ferry Rd
      If the 97 replaces the 38 service, then where will the 38 go? TriMet wants to take the 38 straight down Boones Ferry past Mountain Park, with the Line 44 extension serving that area. The 38 would travel down Kruse Way like it does now, then turn on Bangy Rd to Bonita, eventually ending up at Tigard TC. TriMet proposes that it take Hall to McDonald, then cut over to Pacific Hwy, but I think it makes more sense for the Gaarde bus to cover both sides of Pacific Hwy. So I take the 38 straight up Hall into Tigard TC. This route optimization would allow for full weekday service on the 38, as well as putting full week service on 72nd someday via Line 97.

      TriMet wants to make another long north/south connector route out of Line 67. It would run down 158th to Merlo and continue to 170th, where it would run as far as Bany/Hart, following Line 88 to 155th. (Line 88 would be re-routed to Davis St instead of Hart Rd.) Line 67 would take 155th to Beard/Brockman and then follow the 92 route to 125th. At Scholls Ferry it would jump over to 121st and take the 45 route from there to Walnut. It would continue to Gaarde and hit Hwy 99W at the Gaarde/McDonald intersection. TriMet proposes that the 67 would turn up Pacific Hwy to Tigard TC, with the 38 covering McDonald. I say that the 67 should cover the whole stretch of Gaarde/McDonald from 121st to Hall, then take Hall to Tigard TC. It only makes sense; why make people transfer if they just want to cross the street? (It would be the whole 48/89 Cornell problem all over again.) The only place where the rest of TriMet's plan conflicts with mine is on 170th, where my Line 49 originally took 170th from Baseline to Farmington. From my perspective, TriMet's plan in this case takes precedent and therefore the 49 will have to find another road down which to travel, such as 160th.

36-South Shore
      Within the year, TriMet will be changing the routing for Line 36 so that it doesn't serve Pilkington, Childs, 65th and McEwan anymore. This is unfortunate for the city of Rivergrove, but since nobody's riding it, and they have had the opportunity, it is only logical to move the bus to stay on Jean Rd. This will allow the bus to serve the Boones Ferry shopping area more efficiently, and it will allow TriMet to extend Line 36 past Tualatin Park & Ride down Durham Rd to King City. (And it would still be a shorter walk to the bus than a lot of communities in Portland have.) This creates a nice east/west connection that will encourage ridership across the whole line. My only suggestion is to lob off the Portland spur at Lake Oswego, but maintain service as 35 buses that become 36 at Lake Oswego.

37-Lake Grove
      Line 37 is currently the laughingstock of the system, running on average every 89 minutes, with the shortest westbound headway being 72 minutes and the last westbound trip leaving Lake Oswego at 4:28pm! Who wants to ride this line? They cut it back with the service cuts in a way that said, "We want to discontinue this line, but the people won't let us." TriMet plans to run Line 44 between Kerr Pkwy and Tualatin P&R, which allows them to move the 37 to Kruse Way to match the 38 routing. I say eliminate the whole thing. My plan has the 38 doing exactly what TriMet's 37 is doing in Tigard, and they also have the 37 continuing to Progress Ridge via Walnut (I have no idea why the 37 of all lines should ever do this). Put the 37 service into Line 36 and make transfers between the 78 and the 44 easy at Country Club and Boones Ferry. You would end up with better service with that setup than the 37 could ever do on its own.

      The 96 should run all week. Portland to Tualatin, maybe have it do the Mohawk P&R shortline on weekends. But for Pete's sake, if there ever was demand for service that currently doesn't exist, this is it.

93-Basalt Creek/124th
      Not shown on my map is the new Line 93 (as the current 93 service is enveloped by Line 94). There apparently is going to be a new community in southern Tualatin called Basalt Creek, and TriMet wants to stick a future bus line down to it via Hwy 99W and 124th Ave. This would be convenient for those future people and would also provide both a connection to jobs in the western Tualatin business area and another line of service between King City and Tigard. This is why I propose moving Line 67 all the way to Hall Blvd, because, according to my plan, this would leave three buses on Pacific Hwy leaving central Tigard and three buses on Hall Blvd. Well-balanced.

40-Bull Mountain
      Call it bad marketing strategy to but my most important additions at the end (I arranged this post in a logical order), but there is something significant here in Bull Mountain. There are about 10,000 people living in the unincorporated community of Bull Mountain, and this doesn't account for the Tigard portion along Bull Mountain road. This is a wealthier portion of the city and probably couldn't support a full-week bus to start. But given time and the right types of encouragement, a bus down Bull Mountain Rd would make for a welcome addition to the system. Remember, the more people earn, the more taxes they are paying to TriMet. While partiality toward the more fortunate shouldn't be encouraged when planning transit, we should also never forget them. TriMet does plan some sort of commuter shuttle service for the Bull Mountain area (like the old Cedar Mill Shuttle). However, in such an important part of the Southwest, they deserve a line that covers the whole area. My plan for Line 40 takes it from Tigard TC to Progress Ridge via Hwy 99W, Bull Mountain Rd, Roy Rogers, and Scholls Ferry, which would also serve Tigard's River Terrace community and Beaverton's South Cooper Mountain community, both under construction.

41-Beef Bend
      Definitely a second priority to Bull Mountain, Line 41 would cover the rest of the area currently left off the TriMet map. It should start in King City at Pacific Hwy & Durham southbound, run through the town center of King City toward Beef Bend Rd, then travel down Beef Bend to Elsner Rd. The bus would travel on Elsner to Roy Rogers due to the TriMet district boundary not covering the new portion of Roy Rogers between Elsner (old Beef Bend) and Bull Mountain Rd. Then it would serve the northwest Sherwood community before traveling through Langer Dr and Old Town Sherwood and then returning back to King City via the way it came. This bus could be rush hour only to start and then expanded as ridership allows. If you take a look at my map, you can see that the addition of these two lines (with only 2-4 vehicles to cover both lines) would cover all the area of the Southwest that TriMet currently is missing with real fixed route bus service.

The best way to encourage ridership is to offer it. Sometimes, as a transit agency, you have to offer service to an area even if it doesn't result in the highest ridership in the city, solely because it is fare to all the people living and paying taxes within your district boundaries. By introducing this service into the Westside and Southwest areas, you have very quickly covered 98% of the major holes in the district area, and paved the way for communities of the future to thrive and flourish.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Top 10 Service Improvements // #2 - Cornelius Pass

Cornelius Pass is the 148th Ave of the Westside. It should have a bus line on it, but it doesn't. According to my concept map of proposed TriMet service improvements, it will.

Cornelius Pass Rd is one of the main north/south routes in Washington County. Named for the very dangerous pass that traverses the Tualatin Mountains north of Sunset Hwy, the road has evolved over time and continues to grow as the area around it blossoms.
Cornelius Pass & Baseline, a major intersection with no bus service.
It started out as three different roads: Cornelius Pass from Hwy 30 to Cornell, 216th Ave between Cornell and Baseline, and 219th Ave from Baseline to TV Hwy. In 1996, the intersection with Baseline Rd was redesigned, and the Cornelius Pass name was extended all the way to TV Hwy. There have been quite a few tumultuous construction projects on the road, such as widening the road south of Baseline twice, replacing the bridges at Beaverton Creek and Rock Creek, and now widening the road to seven lanes between Cornell and Sunset Hwy. Now it is a rather busy road, connecting homes, apartments, businesses, retail, and schools.

Cornelius Pass and Brookwood Pkwy are the only major north/south roads in Hillsboro that go from Hwy 8 all the way to Hwy 26. TriMet has always maintained that Cornelius Pass isn't a good candidate for transit because of the lack of connection to MAX. That's silly. One could make the same case for Murray Blvd, but they got around that hurdle, didn't they? If you add one north/south bus line at Brookwood (or Brookwood and 229th, as I designed it), you are still left with only one north/south line from SE 10th to SW 185th.

So I propose Line 49-Cornelius Pass Rd.

This bus line would start at PCC-Rock Creek and travel down West Union Rd to Cornelius Pass, providing access to the West Union and Rock Creek communities north of Sunset Hwy. (There used to be rush hour service there on the old Line 89, but that went away years ago.) The bus would then cross Sunset and pass the Sunset Fred Meyer shopping area, crossing Evergreen (Line 46) and Cornell (Line 48), serving the east edge of the Orenco district.

So how do you get to MAX you ask? Simple logic. Turn the bus on Amberwood Dr just south of Cornell, a direct shot to NW 206th Ave. Taking the bus to 206th would not only provide access to Quatama MAX station and all its surrounding apartments, but also the AmberGlen business district that Hillsboro is so gung-ho on developing (they have even proposed a cable car circulator, which TriMet has never sounded too excited about). After stopping inside the now currently unused bus bays within the Quatama Park & Ride, the 49 would travel west on Quatama Rd back to Cornelius Pass. This would mean that the entire time the bus was not on Cornelius Pass Rd it would be serving something. And by something, I mean the thousands of people who live in the homes, townhouses, and apartments in the AmberGlen and Quatama districts.

Now we take the bus down Cornelius Pass straight through to TV Hwy. This is where my great ideas came to a halt. What do I do now? Simple: take TV Hwy one-half mile east to 209th, and turn right, making a quick trip to Kinnaman Rd. This oddly diagonal road is the main east/west route between TV Hwy and Farmington. Along it are Aloha High School, Mountain View Middle School (a block away at Farmington), Kinnaman Elementary School, Farmington Center Shopping Center, and the Edwards Center, a home for people with developmental disabilities. Maybe the road isn't as high profile as Cornelius Pass, but it's as important as any road in Aloha. This road would produce many more riders in the South Aloha area. During late hours, Sundays, or the like, the route could turn around at TV Hwy and Cornelius Pass via Johnson and 214th Ave.
Old TriMet 49s-Quatama map, 1999-2003

This section of the route is historically important, and is in fact the reason this new line is numbered 49. You see, when Westside MAX opened in 1998, TriMet began service on a route called 49s-Willow Creek (when they used 's' for shuttles and 'X' for express lines). Within two years, they re-routed the line to Quatama MAX station instead of Willow Creek (see TriMet's old page for it here), and it became the 49s-Quatama. This bus served the AmberGlen corporate park that was in development, but the corporate part kind of peaked well before it was completed and ridership never lived up to expectations. So in 2003 they eliminated the line.

Though the business complex growth leveled out, and almost died out during the recession, the City of Hillsboro had other plans. They saw AmberGlen as a major community development opportunity (see this for details). Their dream looked like the intermingling of business, multi-format residential, and even an OHSU facility. They have started building some homes in the area now, but nothing as substantial so far as their grand vision.

However, considering the improved economy and the overall growth of Hillsboro over the last ten years, AmberGlen is as good as any for a spike in growth to take place. And this Line 49 can work right in the heart of it. The bus would travel down 206th Ave all week, but notice the dotted lines on the map for my new line above. This represents a rush hour side-routing that could be taken every other trip or so, or even a quick loop that could turn right back to the MAX station a few times. It covers all the area that was served before while continuing to place an emphasis on the residential areas nearby.

South End?
Notice that I didn't say anything above about where the line ends on the south end. That is because I really don't know. The line would take Kinnaman to Farmington, and then there are a few options. You see, I designed the line before TriMet released their concept map of the Southwest area, which included the extension of Line 67 from Merlo Rd to Tigard TC via 170th, Hart, 155th, Brockman, 125th, and Walnut (or in my plan, Gaarde). My plan took Line 49 to Willow Creek via 170th and Baseline, as shown in the map above. Obviously, if the 67 were extended, this would be a lot of redundant service on 170th, a road with a lot of life to it but not necessarily enough for two bus lines for that length of the road. I love my old 170th plan for the 49, but that its terminus would probably have to be reworked. The best idea so far that I have is to take the 49 down Farmington to 160th, which would become Millikan and have it end at the Millikan Way Park & Ride. This in itself is a very decent plan, but more study would have to be done to determine if it would be cost-effective and would generate enough ridership.

Have you ever noticed that large field south of TV Hwy near Harvey the giant bunny? That has always been outside of the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) and no one could develop it. However, Hillsboro has annexed it and is now ready to start work on the new South Hillsboro community they have planned there. Basically, they will extend Cornelius Pass Rd to Rosedale Rd, and many of the other through-roads on the west and east will converge at Cornelius Pass. Over 8,000 new residences are planned for this area. (See Hillsboro's page about it here). My plan is to take the 49 from Cornelius Pass to Kinnaman via TV Hwy and 209th, but it is designed to take this new area into consideration. The bus could be re-routed down the new Cornelius Pass extension all the way to Rosedale and back up 209th, which would create good transit access for all those houses off 209th also. Or, as one of their concept maps shows, take Cornelius Pass to Kinnaman, and turn left (seems too simple...). Either way, this flexibility would do a large part to make the 49 a successful and thriving bus line for years to come. Turns out that Hillsboro is going to break ground on the Cornelius Pass extension this summer, so these plans for the area all may change before the bus even goes into service!

Think I may be being a little too passionate about one road? No. I've spent my whole life watching this road grow. It's time to give it the bus line that it deserves.

Do you have any questions or comments? Email me at comments@transitriderpdx.com with any input you may have. Also, if you like anything you see here and want TriMet to hear about it, you can email them and reference my ideas (or submit ideas of your own) at future@trimet.org.

(Image credits: Intersection picture, M.O. Stevens via Wikimedia Commons, Old 49s Map via Wayback Machine.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Top 10 Service Improvements // #1 - Hillsboro

In advance of this Thursday's open house where TriMet will be meeting with riders about their plans to expand bus service, I am unveiling my Top 10 suggested service improvements. All of these were explained in my last post, but I will go into some greater detail concerning routings, and rationale. Please note: these are changes I believe must be made for the TriMet system to reach its potential. So read carefully; you might find this information extremely helpful.

Hillsboro is one of the most forgotten cities in the Portland area as far as transit. Its original design was based around the question, "How can we get everybody out there from Downtown Portland in one shot?" It was decent for commuters but not the local Hillsboroan. Then came Westside MAX, which paved the way for expanded service. However, these plans became dated quickly as the city grew and the designs weren't following the flow of people anymore. So after 18 years, it's time to start afresh.

Hillsboro is the fifth most populous city in Oregon, with right around 100,000 people. It is ethnically, culturally, and economically diverse, with thriving communities and growing businesses. Everybody knows how important Intel is to the city (employing 60% of the sum of the employees of the top ten employers); but Hillsboro has many more businesses, from very small to very large, and its economy has continued to do rather well even during the Great Recession.

But did you know that between TV Hwy and Baseline Rd/Main Street, there is no north/south bus route for 4 1/2 miles? This is something long overdue for change.

TriMet has made two major enhancements over the last ten years to lay the groundwork for the future: (1) establishing Line 57-TV Hwy as a Frequent Service line and one of the busiest lines in the system, and (2) re-routing Line 48-Cornell to stay on Cornell from 10th & Main all the way to Cedar Hills Blvd. These routes give you as a designer something to build around.

Currently, there are only three other bus lines that travel into Hillsboro: Line 46 through North Hillsboro on weekdays only, Line 47 on Baseline, 229th, Evergreen and up to Bethany also on weekdays only, and Line 52 on 185th Ave through Tanasbourne. (See TriMet's system map for context). On Sundays, for example, along with the 52, only the 48 (hourly) and 57 (15 minutes) are running through the city. The only major city in Portland with worse weekend service is Tualatin.

So what do we do about it? Below are my suggestions for taking this sorry group of four lines and tweaking them just a little to result in six lines, no lost significant service segments, and all the system coverage any Hillsboroan ever wanted (within reason, of course).

Voila! Your new Hillsboro!
57-TV Hwy/Forest Grove & 48-Cornell
      No changes to these lines should at all come as a shock, as they are already progressing fast along their evolution toward the ultimate goal. Line 57 currently runs every 15 minutes on weekdays (6am-9pm), Saturdays (9am-6pm) and Sundays (10am-6pm), with 20 minute service for most of the surrounding times. Span of service is not an issue. The only improvements that could be made are adding a few more early morning/late night trips, expanding 15-minute weekend service by a few hours, and maybe throwing in a couple of rush hour trippers out of Beaverton TC. All this could be done at one service change at little cost to the agency. Line 48 should eventually be Frequent Service as well, as it provides the other half of the backbone of Hillsboro, as well as the rest of the communities in the west and northwest metro area. The bold lines on this map indicate that these lines, as well as the 52, are Frequent Service.

      Yes, I split Baseline and Evergreen. I know the names go together like salt and pepper, Kelso and Longview, and Kirk and Spock, but these are two roads that really should never have been on the same line. If TriMet wants the "grid" that they envision that looks like East Portland, then there should be four east/west routes: TV Hwy, Baseline, Cornell, and Evergreen. After much deliberation (actually way more than any sane human should use), I concluded that the Baseline bus should be the 47 (and the Evergreen bus the 46) for two reasons: (1) everyone is familiar with saying "47-Baseline..." every time they say the route name, and (2) this way the lines would leave Hillsboro TC the same way as they do now, avoiding confusion.
      My routing of Line 47 is simple. It would leave Hillsboro TC via Oak/Baseline, 10th, and E Main as it does now, continuing on Baseline all the way to 185th. There it would turn in to Willow Creek TC. Would it continue? Maybe. In my current design, I have another line serving Baseline from 185th to 170th. There's really no pressing need for a line down Jenkins from Murray to 170th (only thing there is Costco and Nike, both served by the 67, and in the latter's case, two other lines). So, in my opinion there isn't a need for a bus to run all the way from SE 10th to Cedar Hills Blvd. I should know---I work on Baseline Rd!
      Line 47 would run all week, with 15 minute service during peak hours and 20-30 minute service at other times. With this line splitting the 48 and 57, we now have a logical and efficient east to west system through the heart of Hillsboro.

      I also spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what I needed to do to get this line to work. What I wanted was a line that ran straight down Evergreen. But I also didn't want to leave out the Griffin Oaks and Brookwood/Main Library sections of the current 46, which serve a significant amount of businesses. Then I had an epiphany: there is almost nothing between 15th and Brookwood due to the presence of the Airport! So, I routed the new 46 to serve all of the current 46 area. I decided that it should travel out of the FairPlex MAX station via Veterans Dr, as it wouldn't skip any stops, it would allow for stops on Brookwood at Veterans (for the area between Main & Cornell) and at Cornell (where there currently are no 46 stops due to inaccessibility, and it would allow for access to anything the City of Hillsboro decides to put on Veterans Dr. Also, it wouldn't serve Dawson Creek Dr or Shute Rd, which is unfortunate. I just couldn't come up with a logical way for the route to pass through and cover those businesses at the same time. Fortunately, Brookwood provides access for most of those businesses at a reasonably short distance.
      TriMet's concept map shows no fixed route service through the Glencoe area. Rarely would I say something like this, but frankly that is absolutely stupid and ridiculous. Look at the above map, particularly the darker area of the background that indicates the city and metro area boundary. Now remove the green line in your mind. Notice how much area is now lacking transit coverage? That would be about 20% of the city, or, taking the average population, about 20,000 people, more than nine legitimate cities in the Portland area! The Glencoe area may have lower ridership, but that's what you get when your bus comes only every 60 minutes at its best. In this case, better service would equal more ridership.
     The big question on everyone's mind will be this: What about all the Intel employees who ride from Bethany to work everyday? Didn't TriMet just make the service change to send the 47 to PCC-Rock Creek for those employees? Yes, they sure did. And so far, we don't have full buses. But never fear! My plan actually works better for you. You see, instead of the Evergreen bus stopping on 229th in front of the Ronler Acres campus, it will stay on Evergreen, where there is another entrance on the north side of the campus. Also, due to it enveloping the current Line 46, it will also serve the Jones Farm campus! So there's two Intel campuses for the price of one (literally). Fifteen minute rush hour service for some parts, half-hour service the rest of the week. I think that with these modifications to the Evergreen line, it will bring a real boost to ridership in all these areas.

      So I bet you were wondering what I did with 229th Ave. Trust me, it didn't get forgotten. Actually, that was where I spent most of my brain matter in redesigning Hillsboro. I wanted a main north/south line, but I didn't want to leave Brookwood out. Once I realized that I could have the 46 serve Brookwood by the Main Library, all the pieces started coming together. Actually, the same logic that I used for Evergreen was applied to this line. You see, there literally is nothing on Brookwood between Cornell and E Main. One street starts just north of Main, but that's in walking distance from Main. Look at Google Maps. See? There's not even a house on Brookwood right here. So, therefore, no reason for a bus line. So then it hit me: Why don't I send the bus from Brookwood in the south to 231st in the north? Perfect. So where would it end in the north? All it would need to do is hit Evergreen and meet with the 46. I then realized that I could turn the bus around via Bennett and 235th; it would serve both the north entrance of Intel and the Hillsboro Stadium, something that has never had direct access via transit. And the line would be short enough, it wouldn't need a layover spot. That's all it needs to do in the north.
      What about the south? I started looking at maps and realized that there is a whole new area of civilization south of TV Hwy that has no transit access. I even found the mysteriously missing Witch Hazel Elementary School. Take the bus down to Davis, turn right and you hit River Rd. This would mean all of South Hillsboro, Witch Hazel, and the area around HilHi would have transit! Then I took a daring step further: I had it cross TV Hwy. River Rd becomes 13th, which hits Maple, where the bus can go back across Hwy 8 to Seventh Ave. Then it would get back to Oak and Baseline to get to the transit center. Yes, those turns are a little tight, and you could very easily have it just go straight in from River Rd via Hwy 8. However, I think with this extra coverage it can help increase access to those parts of inner Hillsboro that represent some of the least rich portions of the population. This bus would only have to run every 30 minutes to an hour on weekdays and Saturdays, but you would have the flexibility to put a lot more service in areas where it's needed during peak times: 229th between Orenco Station and the Hillsboro Stadium.

49-Cornelius Pass Rd
      This is the most controversial portion of my concept plan. It also has some of the most logic and benefits. There has been a lot of thoughts and planning on my part to design Line 49. Even a lot of driving as I wanted to make sure I got it right. I live within a half mile from Cornelius Pass, so if anybody should know anything about it, it would be me. I've lived in the same place all my life and have watched the city grow around Cornelius Pass to make it one of the most important thoroughfares in the whole Metro area. And TriMet still doesn't want to put a bus line down it.
      Stay tuned for Part 2 of this ten part series, as I break down in even greater detail all the cool things that make my Line 49 one of the greatest potential additions to a system that is evolving into one of the greatest transit designs in the country.

Do you have any questions or comments? Email me at comments@transitriderpdx.com with any input you may have. Also, if you like anything you see here and want TriMet to hear about it, you can email them and reference my ideas (or submit ideas of your own) at future@trimet.org.

(Image credit: Main Street Bridge, Cacophony via Wikimedia Commons.)

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Progress, Part 2

How should the TriMet system look? Here's my take.

Why does the 62-Murray Blvd turn from southbound Murray onto Scholls Ferry? Well, because less than ten years ago Murray ended just south of the intersection. But they built a bridge and connected Murray into Walnut and made them one road. Now it is a thoroughfare between Cedar Mill and Tigard.

Part of improving service is recognizing what has changed in the context of our preexisting bus lines and adapting them to actually serve the people in those areas. The reason TriMet is focusing their attention on the Westside (Hillsboro, Aloha, Beaverton) and the Southwest (Tigard, Sherwood, Tualatin, Lake Oswego, SW Portland) is because these areas are so inadequately served or their lines are so outdated that they don't follow the flow of passenger demand anymore. Some areas, like Bull Mountain, have thousands of people living in them (paying taxes to TriMet just like the rest of the city) and have not one bus line within walking distance. This, to me, is quite sad.

I am stoked that TriMet is starting to look at improving these areas. It's only fair to the people who are forced to give them their money. But as a person who sees mass transit as the backbone of a society with the potential to bring so many benefits to all residents, any improvements are welcomed, and if we can do anything to encourage more people to ride, then we should make that a reality.

TriMet's Plans

At future.trimet.org, the people who are employed to make those planning decisions have begun laying out their vision of what the system of the future will look like. It's a work in progress, but I'm impressed by how aggressive they have been in retrofitting the outdated design. Their Westside plan is well-meaning but somewhat haphazard. As a resident of the area I know that it doesn't sufficiently answer all of the problems that we are facing around here, but it's a start. The Southwest plan, however, is very intriguing and is quite logically thought-out. You can read the Final Report here and review the map on Page 9 of that document. They have basically turned the current line layout on its head and replaced existing under-performing sections of lines with needed coverage of major roads and new areas.

Also, there are draft maps for the North/Central, Eastside, and Southeast sections. These are very insightful and reasonable, answering a lot of the issues that are glaring in those areas. (Most of what I cover relates to the Westside and Southwest, as I live in these areas and see firsthand how problematic the current designs are here. But I think their ideas about the other side of the river are, for the most part, entirely sufficient.)

I have been working on a system redesign for a year or so, particularly identifying areas of major need. I have analyzed their draft line-by-line, and am impressed to see that they have covered many of these same areas. It proves to me that they are on the same page as the rest of us as far as recognizing needs.

If you have comments, suggestions or ideas about their plans, you can weigh-in at by emailing at future@trimet.org or taking the variety of surveys at the respective pages of the different parts of town.

My Plans

I had created an entirely new system plan on a website called Transitmix, which allowed users to use real maps to design their own transit system. Unfortunately, I lost access to that map because they went public and now require that you request that access. (I did request that access and haven't heard back from them.) However, I was so intrigued with the ideas TriMet made on their draft that I basically created a new system design integrating their plans with my additions or improvements to their plan.

Below is a line-by-line analysis of my proposed improvements to their plans. These descriptions will first explain TriMet's new vision for the line, then will explain my improvements to that plan. This is not an exhaustive list of their new ideas, because there are so many proposed changes that it would take weeks of writing to explain them all to you. So therefore, this list features highlights of my ideas and how they affect TriMet's. If there's a map, then that's a cue that I feel my suggestions here are of the utmost importance to the system.

(Please note: Obviously, the following maps are not real TriMet maps.)

4-Division/Fessenden Taking future BRT into account, buses can run between St Johns and SE 92nd & Division, connecting to the local 82-Powell Blvd which would run on Powell between 92nd and Gresham TC. I have heard talks of TriMet splitting the 4 into two separate lines, which would be useful especially if BRT is not in service down Powell & Division.

9-Powell Blvd Line 9 would be discontinued if BRT service goes into effect. Service west of 92nd would be served by BRT; service east of 92nd would be served by Line 82.

12-Barbur/Sandy Blvd When MAX Red Line breaks, there is no fixed transit service to Portland International Airport. Before the Red Line went to PDX, Line 12 turned north on I-205 and then onto Airport Way to serve it. As the 12 no longer goes to Gresham, 12 buses should continue through Parkrose/Sumner TC to PDX via I-205 and Airport Way. Buses could layover at Parkrose each way so that no layover would be required at PDX.

14-Hawthorne/122nd Line 71 is finally scheduled to be split into two routes. Line 14 is very short, so it makes sense to combine the 122nd section with Line 14 and make it one line, with 15 minute service every day of the week. Line 14 would run between Portland City Center and Parkrose/Sumner TC via Hawthorne, 50th, Foster, Lents MAX Station, 122nd, and Prescott.

16-Front Ave/St Helens Rd Buses would continue through Portland City Center via 5th and 6th Avenues and across the Harbor Structure and the Tillikum Crossing, Bridge of the People to OMSI or even Center Garage.

19-Woodstock Service can be enhanced on the Woodstock/Glisan line if the line if split into two lines. Line 19 would run between Portland City Center and Happy Valley via the Ross Island Bridge, Powell, Milwaukie Ave, Bybee, 28th/32nd, Woodstock, 52nd, Duke, 82nd, Flavel, Mt Scott, 152nd, and 157th. Rush hour service would provide extra trips between City Center and 112th & Mt Scott. The old Line 157 used to serve the heart of Happy Valley, but nobody rode it. Imagine having a 20-minute bus running service direct to Downtown Portland via the Flavel St MAX Station. Do you think people would ride it then?

23-San Rafael/148th Line 23 would run between Gateway TC and SE Powell & 148th via 102nd, Halsey/Weidler, 111th, Stanton, 122nd, San Rafael, 132nd, Sacramento, and 148th. The line would turn around traveling southbound on 148th to Powell, left Powell, right 145th, right Division, and left to northbound 148th. It would only layover at Gateway. 148th between Sacramento and Sandy would no longer be served. The bus could run every 35-40 minutes weekdays, but the bus could also run Saturday. (Note that TriMet is proposing making Lines 22 and 23 into a loop, with a new line on 148th. This assumes an extension of Fremont St to 148th. I think my plan is more reasonable because it allows the flexibility to manage each line separately and not have to wait for the City of Portland to do their part.)

25-Glisan Service can be enhanced on the Woodstock/Glisan line if the line is split into two lines. Line 25 would run between Portland City Center and Troutdale via Burnside/Couch, Sandy, Glisan, 99th, Gateway TC, Pacific, 102nd, Glisan, Cherry Park, and 257th/Graham, terminating at 1100 Block NW Frontage Rd with the 77. Rush hour service would provide extra trips between City Center and Gateway TC. Line 25 service on 181st and the Rockwood turnaround would be discontinued. This would eliminate the headache of there being two lines serving Glisan and would also provide much needed extra service to Troutdale. TriMet has proposed having Line 25 turn right off Cherry Park onto 257th to end at the MHCC BRT terminus. There is logic to that, but not a ton of benefits. The west terminus could be across the Harbor Structure and Tillikum Crossing, Bridge of the People at OMSI or even Center Garage.

36-South Shore Line 36 would run between Lake Oswego and King City via State, McVey, South Shore, Lakeview, Bryant, Jean, Boones Ferry, Tualatin P&R, 72nd, and Durham (TriMet's plan). Rush hour service would serve Portland City Center as Line 35 for the purpose of clarity, simplicity, and flexibility so that line 37 could also have City Center trips (My plan). Service on Pilkington, Childs, 65th, and McVey will be discontinued within the next year.

37-Lake Grove Line 37 would run between Lake Oswego, and Tualatin via Country Club, Boones Ferry, Tualatin P&R, Bridgeport, Boones Ferry, Tualatin WES station and Mohawk P&R. TriMet wants to have it turn down Kruse Way and follow mostly the same route as their proposed Line 38 changes to Tigard TC. To me this is redundant and the straight shot from Lake Oswego to Boones Ferry and Tualatin should be maintained. It would also allow extra connections between all the main Tualatin destination. I do not believe that the extension to Progress Ridge should be provided by Line 37; it should be covered by Line 62. Service to Portland City Center could be provided by continuing the bus as Line 35.

40-Bull Mountain Line 40 would run between Tigard TC and Progress Ridge via Hwy 99W, Bull Mountain Rd, Roy Rogers, and Scholls Ferry. Service would run all week, providing that service to those tens of thousands of people who live up on Bull Mountain.

41-Beef Bend Line 41 would run between King City and Sherwood via Beef Bend, Elsner, Roy Rogers, Langer Dr, and Sherwood Blvd. Layovers would be at the southbound stop on Pacific Hwy at Durham. Service would be 30 minutes during peak hours and 60-70 during non-peak hours, weekday only.


42-Brookwood/229th Line 42 would run between Hillsboro Central TC and Hillsboro Stadium/Ron Tonkin Field via Baseline/Oak, 7th, Maple, 13th, River Rd, Davis, Brookwood, Baseline, 231st, Orenco Station, 229th, Bennett, 235th, and Evergreen. Layovers would be at Hillsboro TC only. This would create one of two major north/south connections while serving the South Hillsboro area, maintaining service to 231st and providing better access to the sports complex.

46-Evergreen Line 46 would run between Hillsboro Central TC and PCC-Rock Creek via 1st, Glencoe, Evergreen, 15th, Griffin Oaks. 25th, Cornell, FairPlex P&R, Veterans, Brookwood, Hillsboro Library, Evergreen, 185th, Bronson, 174th, Laidlaw, Kaiser, and Springville. Service would be weekdays and Saturdays with extra peak hour service between FairPlex and PCC.

47-Baseline/Main Line 47 would run between Hillsboro Central TC and Willow Creek/SW 185th Ave TC via 10th, Main, and Baseline. TriMet proposes that the line run all the way to Beaverton TC via Jenkins, Cedar Hills Blvd and Center. However, Line 62 and my proposed Line 49 cover all the area on this section that is necessary to be served by a bus.

49-Cornelius Pass Rd This is my system's crowning jewel. TriMet seems to always shy away from putting a bus line down Cornelius Pass, which is ridiculous since of all the roads in the city it is one that needs it the most (I know because I live rather close to it). Line 49 would run from PCC-Rock Creek to Willow Creek/SW 185th Ave TC via 185th, West Union, Cornelius Pass, Amberwood, 206th, Quatama MAX Station, Quatama Rd, Cornelius Pass, TV Hwy, 209th, Kinnaman, Farmington, 170th, and Baseline. Rush hour service would be provided to the AmberGlen area where the old 49s-Quatama used to run. The line is adaptable to serve the future extension of Cornelius Pass south of TV Hwy. Due to TriMet's plan to run Line 67 down 170th, it could run instead to Millikan Way MAX Station via Farmington, 160th, and Millikan.

56-Scholls Ferry Rd TriMet has called for Line 56 to go to the Oregon Zoo instead of Portland City Center, serving Scholls Ferry all the way to Sylvan. I like this. They also call for extending it past Washington Square to the new South Cooper Mountain community past Roy Rogers Rd. I agree about extending it past the mall, and I think that South Cooper Mountain is a logical eventual terminus, but I think that Progress Ridge is where it should aim until the community actually exists. Therefore, Line 56 would run from the Oregon Zoo to Progress Ridge via Canyon Ln, Westgate, Sylvan, Scholls Ferry, Hall, Eliander, Washington Square, Scholls Ferry, Murray, Barrows, and Horizon.

59-Walker Rd Line 59 would run from Beaverton TC to Willow Creek/SW 185th Ave TC via Center, Hall, Cedar Hills Blvd, Walker Rd, and 185th. TriMet has it going past 185th to AmberGlen, but I think the current western routing is sufficient enough. No service to Park Way, because frankly, those people had their chance for a ridiculously convenient bus line but never used it.

60-West Union Line 60 would run between Sunset TC and PCC-Rock Creek via Barnes, Saltzman, Thompson, West Union, and 185th. This would provide a very helpful weekday thoroughfare for the Northwest neighborhoods to channel straight to Sunset TC. TriMet seems to think that everybody living in Bethany works in Hillsboro. Right. We need a straight shot from Bethany to Sunset TC. It only makes sense for the tens of thousands of people living in those communities.

62-Murray Blvd Line 62 would run between Sunset TC and Tigard TC via Barnes, Cornell, Murray, Jenkins, Hocken, Millikan Way, Murray, Walnut, Hwy 99W, and Main. With the 56 going through to Progress Ridge, and the fact that Murray and Walnut now serve as a straight shot between Tigard and Cedar Mill, the same bus should serve both. Also, the 62 still serving Jenkins makes any need for the Baseline bus running all the way down Jenkins unnecessary.

67-Bethany/155th No, the second '5' isn't a typo. TriMet is making the most drastic extension to this line, and their idea is probably the most logical option. Line 67 would run between PCC Rock Creek and Tigard TC via Springville, Kaiser, Bethany, Cornell, 158th, Merlo Rd, 170th, Hart, 155th, Beard, Brockman, 125th, Scholls Ferry, 121st, Gaarde, McDonald, and Hall. Most of this is TriMet's plan, but I think that it makes so much more sense for the Gaarde line to serve McDonald as well. This would put a lot of service on Hall Blvd, but it would free up Hwy. 99 from having these lines so both the Line 40-Bull Mountain and TriMet's future line to SW 124th and the new Basalt Creek community could travel with Line 94 without too much redundancy.

68-Marquam Hill/Collins Cir Line 68 should run all day weekdays. As a PSU alumnus, I should know. The bus should run every half hour up the hill and back down again, stopping at PSU on 6th Ave at Clay AND Mill. I still don't know why it only stops only at Clay; that's not even within the PSU boundary.

80-Kane/Troutdale & 81-Kane/257th These two lines run one bus each all day long. Each bus leaves Gresham, heads to Troutdale, and comes back to Gresham as the same line. If the bus came back to Gresham as the other line, then you would basically be doubling the service on the segments north of Stark. As an example, 80/34 leaves Gresham as "80 to Troutdale," reaches Glen Otto Park where it turns around, and heads back to Gresham as "81 to Gresham TC." 80/35 would do the opposite, one half hour later.

82-Powell Blvd Line 82 would run between SE 82nd & Division and Gresham Central TC via 82nd and Powell. It would be a Frequent Service line to match current frequency on the 9. This figures in the BRT running on Powell west of 82nd and on Division east of it. Certain rush-hour Line 4 buses could continue to Gresham as Line 82. (The line number should be changed to reflect the fact that the former main section, east of 82nd, isn't served by it anymore.)

91-TV Hwy Express There used to be an express bus that ran down TV Hwy, but TriMet decided that due to the proximity of the MAX Blue Line, it was no longer needed. This makes me laugh. So, I propose that this express bus be put back into service again. Line 91 would run between Portland City Center and Forest Grove, stopping at Sylvan, Canyon & 87th and Broadway, TV Hwy & 160th, 185th, 198th, Brookwood, and 13th/River Rd, Hillsboro Central TC, Baseline & 17th, Adair/Baseline & 14th in Cornelius, and a few stops in Forest Grove.

92-South Beaverton Express Line 92 would run between Portland City Center and Progress Ridge via Barbur, Multnomah, Oleson, Hall, Scholls Ferry, Progress Park & Ride, Conestoga, 125th, Brockman, Murray, Teal, and Horizon. Buses would serve both directions on Teal Blvd. TriMet proposes to run Line 92 straight down Scholls Ferry, bypassing Brockman in favor of Line 67. This does all those express commuters no good, as most of the riders heading downtown currently board there anyway. So, I propose to take the 92 on its current alignment between Murray and Progress.

96-Tualatin/I-5 There would be no routing changes to Line 96, but buses should run seven days a week, as there is no direct connection between Portland and Tualatin.

154-Willamette/Clackamas Heights Line 154 would run between Tualatin P&R and Clackamas Heights via Lower Boones Ferry, Nyberg, 65th, Borland, Willamette Falls, I-205, Oregon City TC, Abernethy, and Holcomb. This would provide an hourly weekday connection between the deep southeast and the deep southwest. Remember, Borland Rd is within the TriMet boundary.