Three weekends in, the new bus line that offers $5 round trips between Gateway Transit Center, Rooster Rock State Park and Multnomah Falls is going gangbusters.
The buses, subsidized in part by the Oregon Department of Transportation, offer 12 departures a day from Friday to Sunday and each one has a rack that carries up to three bicycles.
Conceived as a way to cut congestion on Interstate 84 and take pressure off parking space in the Gorge, the buses carried more than 4,600 rides during their four-day launch weekend, including Memorial Day. Last weekend, the buses carried 1,477 rides.
“While this is only our third weekend of service, the early indications are encouraging,” said Karyn Criswell, a regional transit coordinator for ODOT’s Portland regional office, in an email Monday. “We are hearing great stories from passengers who previously didn’t have access to Multnomah Falls due to financial and/or mobility limitations that are now able to experience one of Oregon’s most beautiful destinations. In fact, I have a lovely hand-written note posted on my wall!”
Service will continue on weekends through September 25th. The first departure is at 8:45 am and the last bus leaves Multnomah Falls at 6:00 pm. The trip takes about 20 minutes one-way.
ODOT has committed to a two-year pilot project and they’ll evaluate how it works at the end of 2017. If the response meets their expectations the transit line could expand to Hood River.
For a first-person account of a trip on the Columbia Gorge Express, see contributor Kate Laudermilk’s latest Gal by Bike column, or see our coverage of the shuttle’s May 27 launch for other basic details.
— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – email@example.com
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Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.
Just have a max line go out there.
If there is to be a MAX line in that area, I would rather have it start as a line from St. Johns to Troutdale. It would connect thousands of jobs and tons of residential. Then extend it to Multnomah falls in a second phase.
That’s my personal opinion.
MAX to St. Johns needs to happen yesterday.
Doesnt the Yellow Line Get pretty close?
If your definition of “pretty close” means “four miles”, then yes. Four miles is the approx. distance from the N Lombard TC MAX station to the heart of St Johns (Lombard at Philadelphia) via N Lombard St.
Yeah, at 16mph that’s 15 minutes. That’s not too far.
Well, sure, going that speed on busy Lombard may considered “not too far” for those who roll that way. But I’m feeling like more folks on bikes would want to choose a less traveled street at a somewhat slower pace. So it would look more like a half hour for those folks. And this isn’t taking into account people on foot…
Then again, if you are biking at a 16 mph clip down arterial streets, would you really need MAX anyways? 😉
Believe it or not, sometimes I don’t want to ride my bike, especially if I have to deal with bringing it on MAX first.
Probably won’t happen anytime soon. St. Johns-Troutdale didn’t perform as well as some other potential corridors when Metro looked at it.
They’re updating the regional transit plan over the next couple years, supposed to be finished in 2018. Maybe it will perform better this time.
The next step is increased bus service. After that, we could talk about HOV lanes on I-84. You have to build ridership before we start looking at fixed guideway transit. If we did, it would make more sense to run commuter rail on the existing rails.
You have to have more people on buses before adding a MAX line? I don’t get the connection. Lots of people take MAX who would never take a bus.
No. Keep Portland creep out of the gorge.
It’s good to see ODOT realize there is demand for non-car transportation. An extension to Hood River and maybe even The Dalles would be amazing. I would absolutely take advantage of that.
Or hell, even just Cascade Locks!
That would be great! I wouldn’t want to skate much further then that in one day anyways.
Make a loop on 84, 35, and 26:
Mt. Hood Parks
…then run it in both clockwise and counterclockwise all weekend long for as much of the year as weather allows.
I would love to see them add a trailer and a drop-off at a trailhead for off-road cycling, similar to the Mt Hood Express. Lot of potential here.
oh man, hood river! that would be amazing! You could start a bike tour from hood river and avoid the freeway portion of the historic gorge. We took the bus just last week and have an amazing time.
This way, I can ride to Multnomah Falls and not have to ride back up the hill. YES!
I have ridden the CGE a few times already. They need a bigger shuttle, every time I rode it there were a few people that had to wait for the next one. It needs to run later in the day and probably continue though out the year and maybe even go a bit further out.
wow! i hope having to wait won’t put people off. but it’s great to hear that the service is effectively a “victim of its own success”.
hopefully, this bodes well for increased service frequency/capacity!
I used the Columbia Gorge Express last weekend. It was GREAT! It meant only a four mile ride to Ainsworth State Park from Multnomah Falls for camping. I caught an AM bus so it wasn’t that busy from Gateway to Rooster Rock, but filled up there for the last leg to Multnomah Falls.
Like the other people here, I wish there was more in just every way: frequency, stops, days of week, distance, etc. One thing in the interim that I found annoying was, while you cannot “reserve a spot” for any particular bus, when you purchase the bus ticket online, you MUST buy it for a specific day. I wish that you could just “buy a ticket” and use it when you felt like it, like the TriMet tickets app lets you do. Otherwise, I feel its a bit silly to be forced to buy a ticket for a specific day even if you aren’t assured you be able to get on the bus.
“The buses, subsidized in part by the Oregon Department of Transportation…”
Is subsidized really the right word here? ODOT’s money is our money, right?
Can it be a subsidy when it is, basically, a very modest gesture toward counteracting generations of auto-only subsidies?
It just means the people riding don’t cover the full cost. It’s the right word. If you keeping boiling it down, money doesn’t really exist except as a figment of our imaginations. Dude.
“It just means the people riding don’t cover the full cost”
Since we don’treflexively use that term to describe the economics surrounding automobile usage I think it is misleading and problematic to use the term for (all) the other modes, where the subsidy – so called – is so paltry.
Can you subsidize gasoline at ~$8 a gallon and then tax it 30 cents? Is it really a tax then?
This is one of those puzzles that is good for thinking.
I did not know about this. Thanks for covering it.
HOLY COW! I somehow missed the last photo in this article. That line of people waiting for the bus is INSANE!