(Photo © Todd Boulanger)
Almost since the day it opened, TriMet’s WES commuter rail faced questions from riders about a lack of bike capacity. Now comes word that TriMet has purchased two retired, vintage (1955) Alaskan Railroad “rail diesel cars” (RDCs) to supplement existing WES trains.
The interior configuration of these RDCs — a split layout for passengers and luggage — makes the possibility of a bike car feasible.
Today, each WES car has room for six bicycles (two on hooks, and room for four in priority seating areas), but our transit expert (and former transportation planner with the City of Vancouver) Todd Boulanger says the new railcars offer TriMet an opportunity to carry up to 32 bikes.
Boulanger has ridden on Caltrain’s ‘bicycle trains’ in California. Those railcars have a similar configuration as TriMet’s new RDCs. Here’s more from Boulanger:
“There is an opportunity for TriMet to introduce a Caltrain-style bike portage service to their WES line if they choose to… The Caltrain carriages have a split layout that allows them to carry from 32 to 40 bikes in addition to passengers. The Alaskan 702 unit [which TriMet purchased and can be seen here] could easily and affordable carry a large number of bikes in a similar configuration, as it is a converted combined baggage and carriage car (about 70 passengers). The bike portage layout could also allow for enhanced ADA access.”
BikePortland West side correspondent Jim Parsons says he was told by a WES operator saying the new RDCs would be used to increase bike/ADA capacity.
What does TriMet say? Planner Colin Maher confirmed with us that they’ve purchased the new cars, and says the RDCs have baggage areas “that could be used for bicycles”. Maher says the two new RDCs will run together as a single train and will only be used “as a spare train”. He stopped short of making any bike car promises.
“Like the regular WES trains, the spare train will have space for bicycles, but until they arrive it’s too early to say how the space will be configured.”