Special gravel coverage

As TriMet puts another $2 million into WES, some imagine the bike trail that wasn’t

Posted by on May 26th, 2016 at 9:41 am

Waiting for WES

WES at Beaverton Transit Center.
(Photo: Thomas Le Ngo)

TriMet’s Westside Express Service commuter rail line, built for the equivalent of $178 million in 2008, is getting some new investment.

The line between Beaverton Transit Center and Wilsonville costs TriMet $135,000 per week to operate and serves something like 900 to 1,000 people per weekday.

That comes out to a cost of $14.83 per boarding in April, compared to $2.68 per boarding of a frequent-service bus line or $2.36 per MAX boarding.

The Oregonian reported Monday that the regional transit agency was agreeing this week to spend another $2 million to buy and retrofit two rail cars from Texas:

The agency cites “expected demands for the growing WES service,” even though ridership on WES has been slipping for the past 2 1/2 years. Weekly trips peaked at 10,700 in October 2013, and the count has held steady just above 9,000 in the last year. The Orange Line, the least busy MAX light-rail line, gives more rides on an average weekday.

TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch said in an email the slump in ridership reflects low gas prices.

“Conversely, when we see high gas prices, we see ridership increase,” Fetsch wrote. “We need to plan for ridership growth.”

In October 2013, when gas cost about $3.50 per gallon in the Portland area, WES ridership topped out at 10,700 boardings per week, the equivalent of 1,070 round trips per weekday. Operating costs that month were $12.16 per boarding-ride — still about five times more than the cost per ride of a frequent-service bus line.

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TriMet cut bus service hours 12 percent during the recession. That’s been restored somewhat, but as of its 2015 fiscal year it hadn’t yet returned regional bus service to 2009 levels. The agency is preparing a series of significant upgrades to bus service, including in the southwestern part of the metro area served by WES, but those aren’t running yet.

TriMet might be right that a WES ridership boom is coming, or that new vehicles will be needed whenever its ridership grows. And even if it were clear to everyone at this point that WES was a bad investment, it’s already been built. So maybe the agency is making the best of a bad situation.

But as the region tries to balance the amount of money it spends on new public transit with other options, WES doesn’t strengthen the argument for rail transit through suburban areas. At least, that’s the position of Keith Liden, a local planning consultant who wrote us Wednesday to bring the Oregonlive article to our attention:

I love the concept behind WES, but it really highlights the problem (again) with how we allocate transportation money. Transit is especially dependent on supporting land use and infrastructure to make it cost-effective. However, too many of the WES stations are not easily accessible by foot or bike, and there’s not enough density/mixed-use nearby. The article suggests to me that TriMet is in denial regarding station area land use and accessibility by talking only about gas prices. It would be better to spend the $1.5 million partnering with station area jurisdictions to address the land use/access deficiencies.

If we made a capital investment in a Springwater Corridor West, instead, we probably would have over 9,000 cyclists per week at greatly reduced cost. Our region needs to spend less time chasing windmills and rainbows and focusing on more basic and cost-effective transportation solutions – one of which is spelled b-i-k-e.

Regional Flexible Fund spending categories (2019-2021) adopted last week.
(Chart by Metro with text box added)

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

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  • John May 26, 2016 at 9:51 am

    I’ve ridden WES a couple times, just to check it out. I don’t live or work on the westside, so can’t say I have any real reason to take it. However, WES covers about 15 miles in 30 minutes and it’s a very nice ride (comfortable and very fast). I think TriMet’s right to expect ridership to grow. With 217’s congestion, this transit mode makes some sense. Also, not all job growth is going to occur in downtown Portland. I suspect this corridor will see quite a bit of job growth, consistent with the whole westside. I just wish it ran every 15 minutes rather than every 30 and had some all day service.

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    • I ride WES daily. I bike to the Wilsonville WES station, ride it to Beaverton TC, then take MAX into downtown. I too wish it ran more frequently, say every 20 minutes, but I can live with every 30.

      The real problem is the operating hours. The last train departs Beaverton TC at 7:35 PM. That means you have to be on MAX leaving downtown by about 7:00 PM. Makes it pretty difficult to socialize after work, let alone attend any kind of evening event… like advocacy group meetings, meetups, seminars, etc. It’s not hard to get stranded if you’re trying to get all the way to Wilsonville and you miss the last WES of the night, and that definitely dissuades some would-be riders.

      I visited friends in the bay area recently, and their commuter rail system CalTrain runs past midnight. It gets lots of ridership, as you can go out on a Friday night and still be able to get home late! If WES wants to increase ridership, they need to increase service hours significantly, otherwise people are too scared of being stranded.

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      • Bradwagon May 26, 2016 at 12:30 pm

        I would only be on the Wes from Hall to Tigard for my commute so I don’t end up taking it but would use it more to go to Wilsonville as I have lots of connections in the area or use it to get to BTC and then downtown if it ran more often.

        With two more trains would think they could go to 15-20 minute service during the commutes and then add at least something for midday / later evenings and weekends, even if just every hour so people that want could plan around that on a weekend when they may not be as time constricted.

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        • Ali Corbin May 26, 2016 at 3:32 pm

          They can’t add trains to the line. The whole length of the track, save for a short stretch dab smack in the middle, is single track. Which means that they can only run two trains at a time, one going north and the other south. These two can only get past each other on the short stretch of double-track in Tigard. If one of the two trains gets to the Tigard station before the other, then it has to sit there and wait for the other one to arrive before continuing on, lest both trains collide head-on.

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          • Marc March 23, 2017 at 12:45 pm

            It is actually double-track between Hall Blvd and Beaverton (up until the spur that connects to Beaverton Central), though switches might need to be added to make the service pattern work. An investment to add double-tracking at Tualatin station or nearby would be worthwhile as well … easily adding capacity if they needed it, and there is definitely room for it.

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      • Rain Waters May 26, 2016 at 8:38 pm

        My how we complicate our lives.

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    • charlietso May 26, 2016 at 12:48 pm

      All the existing research out there suggests that expanding transit services does very little to getting people out of cars. Parking pricing, however, is extremely effective in making people choose to take transit instead of driving.

      The frequency issue touches on the land use element of transit. Transit frequency depends heavily on the land use and density around its stations (and funding for operations, of course). Job and population growth don’t automatically guarantee transit-supportive density. TriMet and their partners need to intentionally plan for density around station areas to support more frequent services.

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  • Chris I May 26, 2016 at 9:51 am

    At some point, the WES route (at least as far as Tigard) should be converted to LRT, with a detour over the freeway to Washington Square. It is important to build ridership to eventually get to that point, and adding service hours is the best way to do that. Buying a used DMU from another transit agency is smarter than buying new.

    That said, when they do convert the line, it would be great to have an adjacent MUP. It is very unfortunate that they didn’t do this as part of the original project, but the fault lies with Washington County, not Trimet.

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    • Bradwagon May 26, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      Agreed on the MUP. Although Fanno Creek trail is somewhat of a good linking path from North of Hall stop to Tigard Stop.

      Regarding the Mall, with how close to current line is to Washington Square I think a more efficient use of resources would be to add a “mall only” (no parking) stop behind Toys R Us with a pedestrian crossing to the mall, it’s only 1000ft straight shot, this stop would also be closer to the south nimbus / cascade business / retail areas and roughly half way between the Hall stop and Tigard stop.

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  • Justin Carinci May 26, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Michael, don’t they count this as boardings/2=round trips?
    “WES ridership topped out at 10,700 boardings per week, the equivalent of 1,070 round trips per weekday.”

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) May 26, 2016 at 11:57 am

      The number represents “boarding rides,” not “riders.” People often use the catch-all term “ridership.” That’s usually a better way to measure transit service, IMO! But for one-line service like WES, thinking about the approximate number of individuals served can also be useful.

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  • Eric May 26, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Being a relative newcomer to Portland, the thing I’ve never understood about WES is why it terminates at Beaverton TC. Commuter rail in like every other city terminates at a rail station downtown near where people actually work.

    Of course, in effect, MAX IS Portland’s commuter rail, so I guess it makes sense, but then why isn’t WES just a spur of the Blue or Red Line?

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    • Allan Rudwick May 26, 2016 at 10:06 am

      tracks are owned by freight company, not TriMet

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. May 26, 2016 at 10:29 am

      The DMUs can’t go through the Robertson tunnel. However, I support electrifying the line to create a one-seat ride to downtown. Though, part of this will be duplicated by the upcoming SW Corridor MAX line, so it may not be worth it. I wonder what the demand from Salem is like and if as south extension would be a better investment.

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      • meh May 26, 2016 at 3:31 pm

        Can’t electrify it, the lines are also used by freight trains. The overhead wiring is too low.

        Can’t run it to Salem, this is a Trimet , and Salem is outside the boundaries.

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        • Paul Cone May 26, 2016 at 3:34 pm

          And the person who appoints the TriMet board lives and works in Salem.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. May 26, 2016 at 4:02 pm

          Technically Wilsonville is outside the TriMet zone as well.

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        • Jack G. May 27, 2016 at 3:56 pm

          You can run overhead wiring along freight routes, but it depends on how tall the freight trains are. For example, the Orange Line crosses the Portland & Western tracks along SE Water Ave. I think that the log cars that go through Beaverton/Tigard would be too tall though.

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    • Manville May 26, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      Because Portland doesn’t have true commuter lines. Both Max and Wes need an upgrade.

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  • Joe May 26, 2016 at 9:58 am

    sad becuase it runs on only select times. cuts off at 850am restarts 335pm

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  • Joe May 26, 2016 at 10:10 am

    I’m really let down since this was built on a shared line… yes i was at the ground breaking opening day, seems like soooo much money is wasted.. bike path please was part of this and really feel home owners didn’t want it. burb problems and auto culture related.. :/

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    • Tad May 26, 2016 at 11:12 am

      It’s the same situation most other metro areas have, though, when constructing their longer-run commuter rail systems. In DC Metro, the VRE and MARC commuter rail systems both run on shared CSX and (sometimes) Amtrak-owned trackage. When there’s enough demand, though, you can end up running them bi-directionally all day long. Most lines around DC run only during commute times, but the main line between DC & Baltimore runs all day.

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  • Joe May 26, 2016 at 10:17 am

    wash co if you say? but ppl need start thinking about moving bikes or ppl outside of cars. MUP paths work… look at fanno and cook park , both kinda nightmare but its shared.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. May 26, 2016 at 10:19 am

    WES is a great service and I agree that the land around it could be better used. There’s a ton of vacant land around the Beaverton TC and Wilsonville stations that could be used for mixed-use housing. I do agree that the line should someday be electrified though, as well as extended to Salem. If the line is electrified, then one one operator will be needed per trainset, lowering the cost and enabling more frequent service. Though IIRC, Portland and Western RR owns the trackage ROW so this may be tricky. I wonder how the SW Corridor MAX line will affect WES. Will it lower ridership because now people have a one-seat ride into the city center? Or will it increase ridership by improving access to destinations on the west side?

    Rail transport is an important part of reducing reliance on private automobiles. The idea that we could instead spend the money on a bike path pops up every so often. The two services are not interchangeable. I’d rather the money be spend improving the existing service and land use than just building a parallel bike path. Or use the money to improve bike access to the stations. But a bike path that duplicates service seems unnecessary.

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    • Tad May 26, 2016 at 10:40 am

      I did mixed-mode commuting on WES on & off for a year, biking to the WES station and then taking WES -> MAX to work in Beaverton. The WES is a fantastic service, I think hampered somewhat by the fact that it only connects in Beaverton.

      The fact that Portland allows for mixed-mode commuting during rush-hour is a major advantage over similar transit systems on the east coast. Living in the DC area, I used the VRE and MARC commuter-rail trains for years. Both of them are quick, comfortable and inexpensive, but have tragically limited bike access. VRE only let you take your bike on the last car of the train – a car that’d frequently NOT have its doors open on short platforms. So, the fact that Portland lets you have this option is huge.

      Look at how MAX was a sort of novelty until it extended out to sufficient areas to reach critical mass on being a viable means of transit. If WES extended down to Salem, and then (perhaps) ran on the P&W tracks from Tualatin up through Lake Oswego and then across to Milwaukie & then to Union Station, it would open up a potential rail corridor from points south directly to downtown and to transit-underserved areas like LO.

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      • ethan May 26, 2016 at 11:34 am

        If I’m understanding you correctly, i think that’s a great idea!

        In this scenario, there would be 2 separate trains running from Salem with ond going to Beaverton and the other to Downtown Portland, and that the route would be on the opposite side of the river as the current Amtrak tain?

        That’s a fantastic idea! But we also need commuter rail to Vancouver (as well as a new light rail bridge).

        I’m more familiar with the East side, so I’m not sire if interlining Salem > Portland and Portland > Vancouver would be a good idea though. Would the timing of the trains work well?

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        • Tad May 26, 2016 at 11:39 am

          Train timing is something I know nothing about either. But, presuming P&W is interested in further partnership with Trimet, the P&W tracks from Tualatin runs up through Lake Grove, downtown Lake Oswego then across the P&W rail bridge into Milwaukie, then up to Portland.

          P&W also owns tracks that go from Portland Union Station up to Vancouver.

          See https://www.gwrr.com/operations/railroads/north_america/portland_western_railroad_inc for a map

          It would be an amazing use of that existing rail to have Vancouver, Salem and Lake Oswego all served by commuter rail.

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          • David Hampsten May 26, 2016 at 4:25 pm

            Why not convert the Springwater East to rail as well? TriMet still retains the option on it, it has a continuous 100 foot right-of-way along its whole length, and the homeless are already camped there…

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    • Paul Cone May 26, 2016 at 12:32 pm

      Of course the freight lines could also invest in electric engines, like most of Europe, but I digress…

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      • Tad May 26, 2016 at 1:20 pm

        A fun table to peruse: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_rail_transport_network_size

        Sort it by electrified trackage, and you’ll see that even the Netherlands, Bulgaria and Slovakia all have more total electrified track than the USA.

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      • David Hampsten May 26, 2016 at 4:22 pm

        Technically, diesel locomotives convert fuel into electricity, which then drive the wheels, so most of our train engines are already “electric”, but I know what you mean, you would prefer engines getting electricity from far away coal-fired thermal power plants, through overhead wires, like our light rail. The French TGV trains are all-electric, using mostly nuclear fission sourced electricity. Maybe we should do that?

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        • wsbob May 27, 2016 at 10:50 am

          Hey…thanks for taking the bloom off the rose!

          But seriously…are one of the motive sources you mention, more efficient and cleaner burning than the others? The reason, if I recall correctly, a major reason WES line was set up to use trains with on board diesel power, is because doing so required far less money to put that service together.

          One of the very strong characteristics of the electric powered MAX light rail trains, is that they’re relatively quiet and clean to be around, compared to the filthy and loud, diesel exhaust producing WES trains. I’m glad to be reading in comments here, that somebody is finding the WES riding experience to good, because that’s some consolation to the downside of the train’s operation here in Beaverton: a major pain for east-west rush hour traffic on the big highways running through town.

          If the trains could be hybrid powered, and run only on battery, at least through town, producing no diesel exhaust, that would help a lot to have them be more comfortable to be around.

          Definitely: A first class, north-south commuter bike route between Beaverton and points south, could be a great asset to transportation service in this area. Should be wider and much better managed than is the Springwater corridor trail in Portland. Sounds simple on the face of it, but the reality would be essentially the requirements for a modest country road…so figure twenty feet total width( plus extra for shoulders, drainage, etc), for two lanes, one in each direction. Maybe 30′ total for the right of way. Gets to be a big deal, fast, in terms of expense and planning.

          The Fanno Creek and Westside trails really are only recreational trails; fine for that purpose, but of very little practical value as commuting infrastructure.

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    • Todd Boulanger May 26, 2016 at 1:27 pm

      Perhaps a better term might be “[re]electrified”…as this line was once a part of a historical Oregon Electric service.

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    • Pete R May 26, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      The Biggi family owns the land around the Beaverton TC and they are the reason nothing is developed there. They want absurd money to sell/lease the land and would rather sit on empty lots than sell/lease at a market rate

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      • Eric May 26, 2016 at 6:54 pm

        Yet another reason why we need a land value tax and not a property tax.

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      • wsbob May 27, 2016 at 11:11 am

        Maybe the Biggi’s are the city’s stumbling block between greater economic development…but I doubt it. The city has been searching around for years, for good, high quality investment on the Westgate land ( maybe the big screen cinema shouldn’t have been torn down as soon as it was.). The proposals made, have been less than wonderful. Development the city supports, should be of the highest quality…compared to some of the dubious examples of past, such as The Round…so if some property owner is prepared to hold out for quality, I’m for them.

        Transportation infrastructure drawbacks of the two big highways running through Beaverton, may be the town’s biggest liability. Who wants to invest in a city, on land near to big highways like TV Hwy and Beav-Hillsdale? Imagine if the 405 in Portland, was surface level, instead of below, in its own sub-level canyon (which someday will likely be covered, for the creation of additional usable land space.). So far, not many companies seem to want to, with high quality development.

        The negative presence of these highways being the context, MAX, and potentially the WES, are great steps forward to Beaverton eventually having high quality investment developed on yet undeveloped lands near the Beaverton Transit Center.

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  • MaxD May 26, 2016 at 10:19 am

    I saw a presentation about planned pedestrian improvements in TIgard. I think WES is really valuable to the Portland Metro region, and supporting it will ultimately lead to more investment in pedestrian and bike infrastructure. Expanding run times and connections to stations seems like the first steps I would take. I also increasing parking fees in Portland will help reduce SOV trips, we could do that today if there was some political backbone.

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  • rick May 26, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Sad leadership…WES, $treetcar, and the rusting Wilamette Shore Trolley. At least Tigard is working on rebuilding Fanno Creek and the Fanno Creek Trail.

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  • Joe May 26, 2016 at 10:25 am

    I agree with adam and maxD, but 2 million is lotta funds yo.. yes future is great but the french praie trail should be put into effect its only 7 miles from Wilsonville to Tuatin.

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  • Bikeninja May 26, 2016 at 10:29 am

    I used to ride the WES weekly to get from the Beaverton TC to my client in Tualatin. The actual service is super efficient in terms of time. It goes from Beaverton TC to the stop in Tualatin in 17 minutes flat and the same drive along 217 or Hall in a car takes a minimum of 42 minutes during rush hour. As stated by others its biggest problem is hours since it only runs during morning and evening rush hour weekday. Because of this it will never draw transit side development and its growth will be limited. The decision to made is if a Max down Barbur is actually going to happen in which case it will be obsolete and should be sunseted. Or if the Barbur Max is never coming we need to get serious and put in a real LRT train on the route.

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    • Tad May 26, 2016 at 10:43 am

      I’d say sunset it when the MAX comes down Barbur UNLESS one could extend the service down to Salem, or perhaps use the P&W tracks up through Lake Oswego to provide badly-needed transit service there.

      The benefit of these DMU trains (diesel multiple unit) like WES and Austin TX uses is that you can rapidly expand service to far-out areas without needing to embark on an expensive electrification project.

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  • Joe May 26, 2016 at 10:33 am

    main reason to create a MUP that could even extent to Salem to Portland, passing thru Wilsonville linking to Beaverton. win – win

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  • Joe May 26, 2016 at 10:38 am

    btw 7 miles outta Wilsonville to Tuatin is ok, but it gets way skechy in some areas, MUP would be a proper buffer away from speeding autos. been doing it for 10years now

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  • Tom Hardy May 26, 2016 at 10:51 am

    I live 3 blocks from a WES stop, but I cannot get a cash ticket to it. I do not use an I-phone. Cash tickets are still available at Beaverton Transit center. I have to ride to BTC from home to ride WES to Wilsonville. Of course this only works if I leave home at about 7:30 or earlier and do not need to be back home after 4:15 PM, On a weekday. If it is in between time it takes 55 minutes to ride direct to Wilsonville or back directly. 12 miles via streets and MUP through Cooke park or going around Cooke park, same time.

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    • Joe May 26, 2016 at 10:58 am

      I ride past WES TC to boonesferry linking with cooke park til the end, Hall rd to fanno creek, fanno all way til end.. riding MUP late night back from beaverton is interesting since both areas flood 😛 so all road is the option if so.. sure WES is always on time and bus ppl if needed… ppl faught this rail line here because some think transit brings crime 🙁 but when they stuck on I-5 what do u thinks goes thru their head? build more roads? haha

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      • Tad May 26, 2016 at 11:06 am

        I used to ride Fanno Creek all the time back from Beaverton – when it rains, I’d have water up to my axles: https://flic.kr/p/pAYjci

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    • Marc March 23, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Have you considered buying ticket books from grocery stores or direct from Trimet? The other option is to obtain a prepaid credit or debit card expressly for buying tickets at the machines.

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  • Joe May 26, 2016 at 11:32 am

    I’ve been thru some amazing rides from Wilsonville to Portland and back. one time a cop was ” looking ” for someone and as i rolled up behind him said back and he tried to grab my arm.. lol nah didn’t spook him but he was hot on trail of something, hes like hey have you seen man running? haha no sir bye 🙂 also if semi flooded get just enuff speed and lift ur legs outta pedals keeps feet dry.. * happy trails y’all * just becareful if can be knee high if really wet

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  • pdxmark May 26, 2016 at 11:32 am

    …”$2.68 per boarding of a frequent-service bus line or $2.36 per MAX boarding….” Wow. $2.50 single-ride Trimet tickets cover their cost on Max. I didn’t know that…

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) May 26, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      Yep. (Though not if you transfer or return on the same ticket.) Also true on high-use bus lines like the 72, 6, 4, etc. Most profitable of all is the Blue Line.

      This is an important reason BikePortland is so enthusiastic about getting more neighborhoods to urban levels of density. Once you get a pretty dense neighborhood like the ones served by those buses (all of which run in part on old streetcar routes, which is why they are so dense today) transit service can get fairly close to self-financing. Which lets you add a lot more bus frequency, which makes low-car life way way more practical.

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      • Social Engineer May 26, 2016 at 12:05 pm

        And it means fewer people moving into no-parking apartments with the expectation of leaving their car on the street and driving almost everywhere. Frequency is freedom.

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      • pdxmark May 26, 2016 at 12:35 pm

        It’s almost as if there’s a rational basis for the transit-density urban design paradigm!

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      • Eric May 26, 2016 at 1:06 pm

        Or no-car life 🙂

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  • Jeff May 26, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    “And even if it were clear to everyone at this point that WES was a bad investment, it’s already been built. So maybe the agency is making the best of a bad situation.”

    Example of the Sunk Cost Fallacy.

    Good article. Time to spend money where it will actually make a difference.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson May 26, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Yes, MAX could pay for itself with something left over for debt service!
    WES was the brainchild of Washington County. Like Streetcar, I am not sure than TriMet would ever have built it otherwise. But the “Rs” out there saw WES as an example of low cost rail (ie low capital cost); a similar mind set likes BRT which is cheaper to build but more costly to operate. Cost per ride on WES is doubled by federal requirements for staffing, engineer and conductor on each train. Maybe with extra cars and a different arrangement with the RR, service could be extended to more hours and safely operated with one operator. The land use issue is really in the hands of the county, but mainly cities along the alignment. Station area development takes lots of time and is not doubt hampered by the nearby freeway and freight rail traffic. Look how long its taken Hollywood to get a little “Mo” going.

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    • Eric Leifsdad May 26, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      Doesn’t federal law also require draft beer service on the train?

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    • Robert Burchett June 6, 2016 at 1:02 pm

      Seems like the fragmented hours of service must make the staffing costs even higher?

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  • Chris I May 26, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    The only commuter rail system in the country that breaks even that I am aware of is Caltrain. It is pretty expensive ($10+ each way for single tickets). With FRA mandates (2 operators, crash regulations), commuter rail is insanely expensive to operate.

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    • Tad May 26, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      Indeed – it is expensive. Take Boston, for example, which has a VASTLY larger system than ours (127 stations vs 5, 368 route-miles vs 15) and yet still has 3x our passenger volume per mile (355 passengers/mi vs 120/mi for us) – but even still, a recent study showed that even after rate hikes, the transit agency was subsidizing each commuter rail passenger by $5.75 per trip. (http://www.wbur.org/2015/10/22/mbta-fare-subsidies)

      But even so, running a usable commuter rail system is absolutely essential to these outlying communities and overall quality of life.

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      • Eric May 26, 2016 at 1:09 pm

        Yes, and I would also caution against making arguments centering on transit paying for itself. There are certain things that we as a society come together and have the government do, because they are important, not because they can pay for themselves. That is a capitalist way of thinking, and outside of Japan, I don’t think any rail system in the world makes a profit. Nor should that even be the goal.

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        • Tad May 26, 2016 at 1:29 pm

          Absolutely this. Seriously, just imagine if we, as individuals, all had a “Freeway Bill” that came separately in the mail for all of our public highway usage. People might talk differently about “oh hork hork we should have wider highways blar blar”.

          And speaking of Japan, it’s not just the fuel cost that’s higher than ours – their taxes on vehicle acquisition & ownership are vastly higher than nearly any other country, and it’s a big reason why rail is their primary means of transportation around Tokyo-Yokohama.

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          • gutterbunnybikes May 26, 2016 at 5:26 pm

            And why Toyko is one of the bike capitals of the world (not that anyone notices -or seems to care, to since they’ve got huge mode share without all the bike infrastructure).

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  • Adam May 26, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    WES would make a hell of a lot more sense if it went all the way downtown. Terminating in Beaverton does not make sense.

    The time “saved” by taking WES is over driving immediately mitigated by having to stand on a freezing platform waiting for a MAX train to show up.

    Call me lazy, but I’m just being honest.

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    • Chad May 26, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      Since both Blue and Red Line MAX trains hit the BTC, you should never have to wait more than 8 minutes for a connection there. WES’s real downfall is the limited service intervals (30 mins) and the fact that it doesn’t run outside of morning and evening rush hours. Continue service throughout the day and extend it into the later evening hours and I think you’d see much higher ridership numbers.

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      • Adam May 27, 2016 at 10:29 am

        Perhaps. But I’m.just talking about why posh people in Tigard and Wilsonville will not take public transit.

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. May 27, 2016 at 10:40 am

          They probably would if parking downtown was $20/hour. 😉

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        • KristenT May 27, 2016 at 5:10 pm

          I’d take transit, if it didn’t require a walk of half a mile on narrow roads with no sidewalks or bike lanes or shoulders. I’d like to get to the bus stop alive and unscathed, thank you, without having to walk through people’s landscaping, lawns, and water-filled ditches to get there.

          Tigard has a long, long way to go to reach their “best walkable city” goal.

          Of course, I work just on the other side of Tigard, so if I don’t drive I ride my bike, so transit is sort of a luxury option for me I guess.

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  • Mike Sanders May 26, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    For those not Familiar with Caltrain, it runs on the SF peninsula between 4th St in downtown SF to the Amtrak station in San Jose, which also serves as a terminal for San Jose light rail. Almost every station on Caltrain connects to a bus line (and so does most BART stations). A lot of Stanford students use it. There are some YouTube videos showing a trip between SJ and SF. The line also serves several shopping centers. Northbound Amtrak passengers from LA usually transfer to Calrain for SF connections (and some southbound riders do, too).

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  • K'Tesh May 26, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Part of the problem here is that WES operates on the same heavy rails as freight, and the two need to be able to coordinated.

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  • Rain Waters May 26, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    I travel a lot. The days of building new bike paths are rapidly coming to their end. What does Springwater add to your community NOW in 2016 ? Outdoor people need physical places to sleep and just live. These people will never be able to afford much less even appreciate high density trendy “little houses”, lofts, parking free urban walkability and everything else we see as rebranded chicken shack. Everywhere bike paths pass through areas with foliage has become one of those places people are forced to retreat to. People who spend stressful lives in the status quo earning their smugness tend to despise anyone they percieve as getting a free ride whether they admit it publicly or not.

    So. . . Spaces that might have been opened to free movement are being turned into pay to play businesses which serve their actual purpose whether they turn any profit or not.

    Go spend a few weeks outside and see for yourself.

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  • WD May 26, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    That comment highlighted in the article is nuts. WES stops don’t have comfortable bike and walking access? No dense development? Has she ever been on the WES? Stops in Tualatin & Tigard are in the center of beautiful, walkable downtown areas that are linked by the Fanno Creek Trail, a 10-mile trail leading from the Beaverton TC to Tualatin.

    If WES has one big problem it’s that it’s basically a commuter shuttle and nothing else. Once again TriMet forgets that families want to ride the train too. If they’d run WES on weekends or anything outside rush hour it’d be packed the the GILLS with families going to the mall, the zoo, and tons of other places.

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    • Dave May 27, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      It’s not realistic for anyone to walk to the mall from the Hall and Nimbus stop.

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  • kittens May 26, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    I think what WES has made blatantly clear is that a transit project which is hobbled by an insufficient budget, overly-optimisitc ridership projections and undersized scope is in some ways worse than nothing as it can be singled out a failure by skeptical voters and media.

    What they have done here is make phase two an almost impossible sell until congestion reaches defcon 6.

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  • q May 27, 2016 at 12:02 am

    Not many comments focus on the Liden comments about how expensive projects like WES are compared to things like bike trails.

    They’re not interchangeable–i.e. bike trails and crosswalks don’t serve identical purposes as light rail (or streetcars for that matter)–but on the other hand, look what could be done for bike commuting or pedestrian safety for even 5% or less of the budget of a rail project.

    Rail projects have negative impacts on voters, too. Many feel if there’s enough money to build rail projects, there should be plenty of money for everything else.

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  • R.J. May 27, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    I tried riding WES once but didn’t realize it only runs during commute hours, still want to try it someday.

    I wonder if Clark County could do something like this for Vancouver. Now that they aren’t building an I-5 bridge and they hate max, this could be an alternative. Their Amtrak station is laughable, by rebuilding it and building a new rail bridge (eliminating 90% of I-5 bridge lifts, see the CSA to the CRC) you could get to Vancouver from downtown Union Station in 15 minutes, maybe adding a stop in St. Johns.

    It would be a nice cherry on top for all the waterfront development they’re doing.

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  • GlowBoy May 31, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Sure it’d be “nice” if WES went downtown, but that was never its intent. Look at a map: Beaverton is actually north of Tualatin and WIlsonville; downtown Portland is not. The route was designed to take advantage of an existing freight route, and the construction cost was a tiny fraction of a comparable light rail line. Don’t sunset it when (if) SWLRT finally goes through — they serve different groups of commuters!

    Anyone who wants to make a quick trip between Tualatin and downtown Portland during commute hours can do it today on the #96X. I believe this is the fastest bus in the entire TriMet system, at just 19-22 minutes between the Tualatin P&R and downtown, and it makes a lot more runs every day than WES does. I used to ride the bus to my dentist’s office near Tualatin, and I always stepped off the bus going “whoa … that was fast.”

    As for service to Salem, I disagree with meh’s point that it can’t be done because WES is run by TriMet. When WES was first planned, a future extension to Salem has always been on the table, and I have no reason to believe that has changed. TriMet is not forbidden from operating vehicles outside its formal service boundary (after all, C-Tran runs buses to downtown Portland – across state lines! – don’t they? And Snohomish Community Transit, Pierce Transit and even Olympia’s Intercity Transit run buses to downtown Seattle. None of these agencies forces passengers to deboard their buses and reboard someone else’s when they cross transit agency boundaries).

    I’ve ridden WES a number of times, and would agree that the service is awesome and fast, but I would also agree that the limited number of runs is a huge drawback. There have been times I rode one way on WES but had to make the return leg on the #76 or #78 bus (which are of course slower, but otherwise excellent).

    I think at this point it would be more important to extend WES’ hours of service rather than increase frequency, but wouldn’t the latter simply require adding a couple of sidings for opposing trains to pass each other? The trains are only 1 car long, so the sidings wouldn’t need to be very long (or, as a result, cost a fortune).

    As for a MUP, well sure that would sure be nice, especially for the “I&C” demographic. They do at least have the Fanno Creek Trail. But as far as having a fast (and at least reasonably safe) route for bikes, Hall and Durham have decent bike lanes and actually make for a very fast-rolling trip from Beaverton to Tualatin, without a ridiculous number of stops for red lights. It does look like Boones Ferry might take you the rest of the way to Wilsonville pretty reasonably, though I haven’t ridden that stretch to verify it.

    Especially considering most of the rest of the SW suburbs are hell for biking, I’ve never had reason to complain: I’ve never found myself wishing, “Gee, I wish I had a faster route for riding from out to Tualatin from Beaverton.” Hall-Durham is pretty darned zippy and direct as it is.

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    • Lynne May 31, 2016 at 9:32 pm

      Boones Ferry will take you to Wilsonville. I’ve had a couple of short contracts in Wilsonville. What I’d do is coast down the hill to the Beaverton WES, take the train to Wilsonville, ride the 2 miles to the office, and then ride the 15 miles home. Boones Fy to Cook Park to Durham->Burnham->Main St->Tigard St (I think), x Tiedeman, R on FCT, north through Beaverton back home. Easy peasy. Sort of. Boones Fy northbound through Tualatin can be a little hair-raising – lots of rush hour traffic, and the bike lane goes away where you’d really want it to be there.

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