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Tell Metro where bus stations should go on Powell, 82nd and Division

Posted by on January 13th, 2016 at 9:08 am

full route
It’s not yet official which route the line will take between Powell and Division, but project staff are pushing hard for that because of all the destinations on 82nd.
(Map: Metro)

This is a small preview to a big story we’ve been working on about Metro’s next big Southeast Portland project: the Powell-Division bus rapid transit corridor.

“Bus rapid transit” is the neat, fast-spreading idea of making a bus line feel and function like a train line. Part of that is that instead of a stop every two or three blocks, the big new buses will have stations (don’t call them “stops”!) every six to 12 blocks.

That means it’s especially important to get the station locations right. An online survey open through the end of this week asks where the stations should land.


The questions about station locations are open only to people who ride transit through the general area of the project — not just those who ride the 4 and the 9, the two main buses along this route. Anyone, however, is welcome to share their opinions about bus rapid transit in general or this project in particular.

If you do use transit in this area. the survey asks if the station locations mapped above would serve your needs, and whether there should be more stations or fewer.

Metro, TriMet and ODOT held an open house on Monday for a particularly interesting stretch of this project: the possible route along 82nd Avenue. We’re still gathering some of the details necessary to explain the tradeoffs here, but stay tuned for a big update on a project that’s about to enter rapid development over the next two years.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

NOTE: At BikePortland, we love your comments. We love them so much that we devote many hours every week to read them and make sure they are productive, inclusive, and supportive. That doesn't mean you can't disagree with someone. It means you must do it with tact and respect. If you see an inconsiderate or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan and Michael

26 Comments
  • MaxD January 13, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Without dedicated lanes, this is just an expensive way to build an express bus. I think bikes are more likely to be accommodated well on a train than a bus because trains are longer and lower. Any chance of this bus idea being scrapped and replaced with a train?

    Recommended Thumb up 10

    • Spiffy January 13, 2016 at 9:42 am

      if they gave Powell the same treatment as Burnside then they can put the train in the middle of and reduce the lanes to one in each direction… that will help tame Powell…

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    • paikiala January 13, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Max,
      Vancouver, WA, is working on a BRT-ish route. They plan to have bike racks on board, similar to MAX.

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      • MaxD January 13, 2016 at 12:05 pm

        great to know, thanks!

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    • Todd Hudson January 13, 2016 at 10:26 am

      In order for BRT to work, it needs *enforced* dedicated lanes, pre-pay fare stations for all-door boarding, signal prioritization, stations that are more than just a bus shelter, and raised platforms so all people can board quickly.

      Boston tried BRT with their Silver Line, and they decided against many of these features. The result was a glorified bus line that gets stuck in traffic.

      Recommended Thumb up 10

      • Hello, Kitty January 13, 2016 at 2:07 pm

        Also it’s not silver. And also not a line.

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  • ethan January 13, 2016 at 9:27 am

    I really hope that this will have dedicated bus lanes for the vast majority of the route. The people driving across the Ross Island bridge can just wait a bit to allow the thousands of people on the bus to go through.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Tom Hardy January 13, 2016 at 9:38 am

      The route does not go across the Ross island. It is going across the Tillicum.

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      • ethan January 13, 2016 at 10:58 am

        Sorry, I didn’t word it very well. I mean that Powell should have dedicated bus lanes from Tilikum to 82nd. If that means that people driving have to sit on the Ross Island bridge until they wise up and take transit, so be it.

        Recommended Thumb up 7

  • Alex January 13, 2016 at 9:32 am

    I, too, was hoping for a train. The city has done a lot of research on how to solve this problem (bus, rapidbus, streetcar, or MAX). You can read it all here: http://www.oregonmetro.gov/public-projects/powell-division-transit-and-development-project/project-library

    The short answer: They are planning on dedicated lanes and long, low, articulated buses. The reason they’re not looking at rail mostly has to do with cost and disruption. Apparently if you want to lay a MAX rail line you need to relocate services (power, telecom, sewer) out from under it. To do this on Division and Powell would be really expensive and disruptive.

    Apparently you can do dedicated lanes for bus rapid transit without digging everything up.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • paikiala January 13, 2016 at 10:14 am

      What happens when those utilities need maintenance or repair, under those ‘dedicated lanes’?

      Recommended Thumb up 3

      • lop January 13, 2016 at 11:17 am

        Throw up a temporary traffic signal with transit priority – When the bus shows up it triggers a red for other traffic for a few seconds to let the bus get through in the adjacent lane. Buses can swerve around a work site easier than a train can.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

      • lop January 13, 2016 at 11:19 am

        And the lanes aren’t planned to be dedicated, shared business access and transit that will likely see a decent amount of bike traffic, whether or not that’s actually permitted. Without enforcement cars/trucks are likely to use the lane for longer than permitted before turning as well.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

  • rick January 13, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Can SE 122nd work better? Outer east Portland needs more bus service.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • paikiala January 13, 2016 at 10:13 am

    “Bus rapid transit” is the neat, fast-spreading idea of making a bus line feel and function like a train line. Part of that is that instead of a stop every two or three blocks, the big new buses will have stations (don’t call them “stops”!) every six to 12 blocks.”

    I generally like Michael’s optimistic take on stories, but this is more like someone who drank the coolaid. If it’s not done right, it’s not much of an improvement. Our light rail may even mask shortcomings.

    Perspective:
    http://www.sustainablecitiescollective.com/klaus-philipsen/1090345/what-brt-and-what-it-isnt

    http://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/gov-bus-rapid-transit-gaining-traction-despite-concerns.html

    http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2011/05/25/the-silly-argument-over-brt-and-rail/

    http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/02/the-myth-that-everyone-naturally-prefers-trains-to-buses/385759/

    http://www.urbanreviewstl.com/2013/07/why-not-bus-rapid-transit-brt-instead-of-modern-streetcar/

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor) January 14, 2016 at 11:55 am

      Thanks, Paikiala. “Neat” was a bit of editorializing, so I’ll elaborate: in my opinion, BRT is “neat” to the extent that it actually has dedicated lanes that make buses travel faster than cars rather than just keeping up with them.

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  • Craig Giffen January 13, 2016 at 10:32 am

    I’m a bit skeptical about the crosswalks on Powell for the stations. Try using the crosswalk at 54th and Powell during the day. It is unsafe to cross there even when you are assuming that cars are not going to stop. I really wish they would take those unsignalled crosswalks off of Powell, they give a false sense of security to people.

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    • Steve B January 13, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      I would prefer ODOT improve these crossings and slow average auto speeds on Powell rather than taking them out.

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      • Hello, Kitty January 13, 2016 at 2:14 pm

        ODOT is planning to install a rapid-flash beacon at the otherwise unsignalized crossing at 24th. I hope that helps.

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      • Craig Gifen January 14, 2016 at 2:18 pm

        Me too. But it is kind of half-arsed the way they have it now with no signals. The speed limit is 35mph there but people regularly drive 50mph there. To slow traffic down they will need to physically change the road somehow to slow folks down.

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  • Adam H. January 13, 2016 at 10:58 am

    Powell will almost certainly not have any dedicated bus lanes between Tilikum and 82nd, opting for “queue-jumping lanes” at intersections. This is a large portion of the route, and to not have dedicated lanes for buses is a huge oversight and undermines the entire project. Same thing for 82nd: it’s not likely to have dedicated ROW except at intersections.

    This is certainly due to the fact that ODOT does not want to inconvenience drivers on their roads. Not only would dedicated bus lanes on Powell and 82nd improve bus service, they would also improve safety, as people driving would be going slower and won’t be able to change lanes. ODOT is making it very clear that their priority is moving cars instead of safety.

    Recommended Thumb up 8

  • Adam H. January 13, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    On the other hand, Division is all PBOT and above 82nd it has seven lanes for cars (two travel lanes in each direction, two parking lanes, and a center turn lane) and a tiny door-zone bike lane. Anecdotally, the on-street parking never seems to be used, since nearly all of the businesses have their own lots.

    Division should be reconfigured to remove the unused parking lanes and center turn lane, and reduce the travel lanes to one in each direction. That leaves room for dedicated bus lanes for the entire length of the BRT route, plus wide curb-side protected bike lanes and wider sidewalks.

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  • Daniel Costantino January 13, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Echoing many of the earlier sentiments here, I don’t think this project is likely to achieve a “rapid transit” character and performance if it doesn’t have dedicated lanes. And, because business access will be required on large parts of the corridor, those dedicated lanes would need to be in the *center* of the right-of-way to function properly. This is a significant challenge, given ODOT’s likely reluctance to reconfigure ROW on 82nd and on Powell, and the relative narrowness of Division (west of 82nd), 50th, and 52nd.

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  • Laura January 13, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    I’ve never understood why TriMet hasn’t embraced artic buses and urban express service. Almost every east-west line, at least in SE Portland would benefit from that. Throw in some HOV lanes on Powell, Burnside and other 5-lane streets. Make the streetcar track-lanes on MLK/Grand as HOV.
    Far more benefit that BRT, far less capital cost.

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    • Paul Manson January 15, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      Like many things in Oregon, its about history… Articulated buses were tried once and were a big failure. I was not here when it happened but remember the visceral rejection of the ideas when raised in the 90’s. Now it might be enough of a foggy memory….

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  • paikiala January 14, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    There’s a new report out. What BRT is is narrowly defined.

    http://t4america.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NATIONAL-STUDY-OF-BRT-DEVELOPMENT-OUTCOMES-11-30-15.pdf

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