More dedicated lanes for buses might be an idea whose time has come in Portland. At least that’s how it appears given the support that the Portland Bus Lane Project has received after it launched just two weeks ago.
The effort is being spearheaded by lawyer and activist Alan Kessler. Kessler turned his passion for more reliable and efficient public transit into an organized effort after a May 4th tweet of gridlock on the Hawthorne Bridge gained attention.
Since then, Kessler has built a website and social media presence, garnered headlines, built up an email list (he has about 140 people signed up already), and even tabled at the recent Sunday Parkways event.
“The vast majority of comments we received [at Sunday Parkways] were supportive,” he shared with us yesterday. “We heard over and over from folks how well bus priority works in other cities they’d lived in and visited.”
Much to Kessler’s surprise, he said many people who stopped by his booth had already heard about his efforts. One of those people was Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. “We were excited when he pulled up and grabbed a card.”
— PortlandB.us (@portland_bus) May 18, 2017
Kessler’s initial focus has been on setting aside the outside lane of the Hawthorne Bridge as bus-only. That’s a county facility and he’s contacted County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson to make sure the issue is on her radar. Beyond Hawthorne, there are many other locations where buses should get priority over single-occupancy vehicles. Kessler thinks its imperative to make buses faster and more reliable if Portland wants to reach its adopted policy goals for climate change, health, housing, and the local economy.
Kessler has also been involved with housing and bicycle activism in Portland. He said he’s struck at how popular bus-only lanes are by comparison. “I don’t get the same feeling of backlash that seems to come with bicycle or housing advocacy. People like the buses, would like them to work well, and will be willing to organize around that issue. We just need a clear path forward and some help from our elected representatives.”
Tomorrow night (5/25) Kessler will host the first ever meeting for this new group. If you want to get involved with, “A group of citizens working to improve the state of transit in the Portland Metropolitan region,” you are encouraged to stop by.
Catch the Bus!
Portland Bus Lane Project Meetup
Thursday May 25th, 5:30 pm
The Commons Brewery (630 SE Belmont, meeting is upstairs)