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TriMet hosts demo of new bus stations planned for SE Division

Posted by on October 19th, 2018 at 9:42 am

*Video by Andrew Theen/The Oregonian

In an effort to refine the design of a new type of bus station for their $175 million Division Transit Project, TriMet built a full-scale mock-up and invited the media to see how it would work in real-life. The demo took place yesterday at a TriMet park-and-ride lot in Gresham.

As we reported back in July, the latest design is a scaled-back version of what they proposed last year. The problem TriMet is trying to solve is how best to mix a major bikeway and a high-frequency bus line. And not just any bus line: While the Division Transit Project won’t be real bus rapid transit (BRT), it will include longer buses (60-feet with boarding from two doors), transit signal priority, and better station design. TriMet says if all goes according to plan the line will be 20 percent faster than it is today and buses will run every six minutes during peak hours.

(Photo: PBOT)

(Photo: PBOT)

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As you can see in the video above (and images below), the new design will have bus passengers wait behind the bike lane, which will run through the platform between the curb and the bus shelter. When a bus is present, bike lane users will be expected to wait while people get on and off. Signs and markings on the platform will help manage behaviors of all users. This type of design is used all over the world — even in Copenhagen! When I was there a few years ago I came across a similar design and it worked well.


Bikeway through a bus platform in Copenhagen.

According to The Oregonian (whose reporter was at the demo yesterday), TriMet plans to build 30 of these stations along SE Division before the high-capacity bus line opens for service in 2022.

In addition to the $17.7 million PBOT has committed to spending on the Division Transit Project, they will pump an additional $7 million worth of updates as part of their Outer Division Multimodal Safety Project.

For more on yesterday’s demo and the project in general, read The Oregonian’s coverage.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

46 Comments
  • Kevin Coughlin October 19, 2018 at 10:19 am

    20% faster is wonderful and totally worth bike riders being patient and considerate of the pedestrians.

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  • 9watts October 19, 2018 at 10:28 am

    “This type of design is used all over the world”

    We need more of this copying what works, and less reinventing the wheel from PBOT, Trimet, etc.

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  • maxD October 19, 2018 at 10:48 am

    good for Trimet! This seems like a great, low-cost way to demonstrate the concept to any doubters inside TriMet and get some publicity so people can understand what is coming. Not everyone is equally adept at reading plans and sections, and this video spells it out. While it is not groundbreaking, it is new for Portland.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty October 19, 2018 at 10:53 am

    The photo from Copenhagen shows how cyclists will navigate the bus stop in reality.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty October 19, 2018 at 10:55 am

      To clarify, I was referring to the bottom photo.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty October 19, 2018 at 10:55 am

        Of the cyclist not waiting at the rear of the bus while passengers were disgorged.

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        • Paul October 19, 2018 at 11:05 am

          Not really necessary as long as he avoids running into anyone.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty October 19, 2018 at 1:31 pm

            But it is significantly different than what the video shows about how TriMet thinks things will work. Better to have the theory/practice conversation before finalizing the design and operational details.

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        • Johnny Bye Carter October 19, 2018 at 4:07 pm

          Yes, they’re kidding themselves if they think that cyclists won’t just salmon through the crowd, or that waiting bus riders won’t wait in the bike lane.

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  • PDXCyclist October 19, 2018 at 11:13 am

    This seems to still give priority to auto/travel lanes and not multimodal transit. The current system on SW Moody works exceptionally well. Trimet/PBOT should work together to reduce an auto lane on division. The Bus stops would be the beginning of a protected bike lane there too and they can add planters/dividers/etc to the other parts in the future.

    This is going to cost a lot of money and seems somewhat shortsighted in its maintenance of car-priority.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) October 19, 2018 at 11:39 am

      yes i agree the lack of reduction to auto capacity on division is puzzling. Portland transpo agencies still seem to think that making marginal improvements to non-driving modes is enough to move the needle. I disagree w/ that approach and feel that to change the status quo and to meet our lofty plans/goals, we must ALSO actively discourage the use of cars and that means drastically constraining driving space whenever possible, making it much more expensive to drive, and so on.

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      • Alex Reedin October 19, 2018 at 1:06 pm

        As I submitted in my comments to the project, the goal should have been “bus (including waiting) faster than driving.” Their actual goals didn’t even include speed to start, just “reliability.” Setting the bar absurdly low (after community protest at the lack of speed goals, they get to… 20% faster? That’s it? Have these people ever ridden a bus in Portland?) makes triumphant ribbon-cutting easier, but does not serve our city or the planet well.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty October 19, 2018 at 1:11 pm

          “Bus faster than driving” would be awesome, but I don’t see how it could be achieved if the bus is stopping frequently and has to follow the speed limit.

          Unless the goal is really “driving slower than bus”, which I think would be a really hard sell.

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          • mh October 19, 2018 at 3:32 pm

            Difficult indeed, but we’re gonna have to do it, and we might as well admit it up front. Maintaining auto speed/throughput should be noted as NOT one of the goals of any project that claims to help other modes.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty October 19, 2018 at 3:35 pm

              Yes… but is the goal to make buses faster (with the possible side effect of slowing car flow), or is making cars slower the primary intent?

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          • Johnny Bye Carter October 19, 2018 at 4:12 pm

            The bus would be faster if they gave it it’s own lane that way there was no traffic for it and it would be passing all the people stuck in traffic in the next lane over.

            Putting it in the same lanes as the rest of traffic doesn’t improve its service.

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            • paikiala October 21, 2018 at 10:18 am

              Busses every 6 minutes in the right lane is almost like taking the lane from auto through traffic, so it could be a stepping stone to a peak hour bus only (except right turns) lane, then to a bus only full-time lane. Not sure Portland has the density to justify forced switch to N. European model. Though, I suppose, E Burnside (E/102nd) and N Interstate are such models.

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          • Greg Spencer October 22, 2018 at 10:41 am

            It is possible if you give buses their own lanes. That’s how they did it in Dublin with their “buses with a high level of service” (BHLS). On radial routes in and out of the city center, they reallocated car lanes to buses, and were able to cut average peak hour commute times on those routes. This was achieved by making buses faster than cars, which spurred a significany modal shift . Car commuting became somewhat slower, but average commute times were faster than before.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty October 22, 2018 at 2:26 pm

              I could see this working on outer Division. Less so on inner Division.

              But it is less likely to happen at all if we elect a candidate for the empty city council seat that opposes policies like congestion pricing. And it looks like we will, with the backing of the majority of people who post here complaining about the dominance of “car culture”.

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    • SD October 19, 2018 at 11:42 am

      I completely agree. It is important to remember that this is an unnecessary compromise in design and there were better versions previously covered in the link that Jonathan provides in the story and in use at SW Moody.

      If this design is adopted, I anticipate bike lane speed bumps and bike lane narrowing that will limit some bikes from passing through to mediate the conflict that is being created by this design.

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    • CaptainKarma October 19, 2018 at 11:44 am

      We are not Denmark. Division will still be perceived as a speed route for car commuters for decades to come. Basically, bikes will take the auto lane at the last minute (very risky), run down children and wheelchair users in the bike lane (likely), or avoid Division altogether (what TriMet really wants). Bus passengers won’t stay off the bike lane, and who knows what impaired drug users will do. There needs to be a bus-triggered red light at every stop so NObody passes the stopped bus (though red lights are not enforced anymore, are they). The overall speed limit needs to be lowered and enforced.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty October 19, 2018 at 2:24 pm

        What point would be served by stopping cars when the bus stops?

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        • Johnny Bye Carter October 19, 2018 at 4:14 pm

          People could cross the street.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty October 19, 2018 at 4:31 pm

            So what you really be required is for the traffic to stop, allow enough time for people to disembark, walk to the corner, then stay stopped for a whole further walk phase, even if no one wanted to cross the street. Is that correct? That would require traffic to stop in both directions (including cyclists and any buses coming in the opposite direction).

            I don’t think that would make things work better.

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            • Johnny Bye Carter October 21, 2018 at 1:03 pm

              “I don’t think that would make things work better.”

              I agree. Seems overkill. But it would be safer. And it wouldn’t be inconveniencing a VRU if all users had to stop. So I think the real point of the comment was to make it fair by stopping everybody rather than just cyclists.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty October 21, 2018 at 1:09 pm

                How is it safer? And how is more “fair” to make people wait unnecessarily?

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    • GlowBoy October 22, 2018 at 4:27 pm

      TriMet has already decided Division Rapid Transit will be an aBRT system, not full BRT.

      A 20% time reduction is consistent with aBRT. It might not seem like a big improvement, but it feels like a massively improvement on the bus, with so much less time wasted agonizing at stops while the bus just sits there. It also brings bus service to being competitive, speed-wise, with biking in denser areas, and making it substantially faster than cycling in suburb-like areas.

      Want full BRT? You’re asking for a different system than TriMet is proposing.

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  • Frankwt October 19, 2018 at 11:41 am

    As a daily bike commuter I appreciate this kind of arrangement, but also want to remind fellow biker to be considerate for the bus riders. When I used to live in the SE, on my daily commute there was a bus stop on Hawthorn bridge westbound with this type of setup. It is located where bikers have finished climbing up the overpass, and start getting into a bit descending onto the bridge, and the CAT 6 people (me included, I admit) tend to ride this section pretty fast. But I always pay attention to whether there is a bus pulling in. I used to see pretty frequently, that people disembarking the bus and suddenly got terrified by a biker bombing towards them…

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  • Glenn October 19, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    So essentially instead of the bus itself crossing paths with bikes (the familiar leapfrog dance), you have just the bus passengers crossing paths with bikes. Which seems sensible intuitively, and safer if you’re on a bike, but also slower. Not sure I’m in 100% love with it. Mainly because I’m jealous of all the first-class citizens in automobiles who are freed from any burden of waiting for buses to do their thing. They can just go around, on the left, in the next lane over, that’s all theirs. Where’s my “next lane over” that’s all mine?

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    • Johnny Bye Carter October 19, 2018 at 4:02 pm

      You’re allowed to take the lane in these sections to go around the bus. But of course it’s not a bike lane and you have to dodge motor vehicles if you decide to do it.

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  • maccoinnich October 19, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    This is a really compromised design, when compared to what they were proposing last year (https://bikeportland.org/2017/10/05/trimet-is-firming-up-its-designs-for-outer-division-bus-stations-245219). A proper floating bus island wouldn’t require cyclists to stop whenever a bus is at a station. I think everyone knows compliance with that will be low, and that we’re setting up conflicts.

    The previous designs required property acquisition, and they’re understandably trying to avoid that cost. However, outer Division isn’t a narrow street; it’s typically 90′ wide with 76′ of width curb-to-curb. A quick mock up on street mix (https://imgur.com/2v7LfPH) shows it would be quite possible to build proper floating bus islands within the existing right-of-way.

    The only reason I can see that they don’t want to do this is the desire to maintain six auto lanes approaching the intersections. It’s clearly a project goal to avoid any impact at all to single occupancy vehicles. When it came to a budget crunch they decided it was worth impairing the experience for transit users and cyclists, in direct conflict with the modal hierarchy in Portland’s Comprehensive Plan.

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    • maxD October 19, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      Thanks for the analysis, the street mix is very telling. w3hile I still like the approach of doing a mock-up/test run, this design looks pathetic

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  • Keviniano October 19, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    I’m bothered less by the need to stop when a bus is at the station than by the narrowing of the path to 3 feet. That’s a 24/7 constraint for 60 ft at intervals of every half mile or so. It’s going to be a decades-long throttling of bike capacity along in an area where the street network makes off-arterial greenways infeasible. If there’s going to be good bike access for this area, it has to be on this street.

    Definitely seems like another case of lack of political courage, and I have to wonder where it’s coming from.

    Is it that Portland and Gresham make the call on Division’s lane configuration in their respective jurisdictions and TriMet just has to just accept it? In order to keep the project moving and maintain a culture of collaboration maybe TriMet can’t make a fuss about it?

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  • Johnny Bye Carter October 19, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Are we going to get VINE style buses with all the nice inside bike racks?

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    • ChadwickF October 20, 2018 at 1:06 pm

      Is that how they’re set up? I noticed no bike racks on front. That’d be great if it turned out to be true. Can they also hold more than 2 bikes per bus?

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      • Johnny Bye Carter October 21, 2018 at 1:05 pm

        Yeah, I saw them the other month when riding across Vancouver. So you get to ride inside with your bike.

        Here’s a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PQaJN5T3bI

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      • GlowBoy October 22, 2018 at 4:18 pm

        aBRT (which is what TriMet is proposing on Division) can be done either way. Here on Twin Cities Metro Transit aBRT buses (A-line, with C and D lines coming in the next couple years) the buses have front racks, but if memory serves there is also a bike rack inside the rear door, as on light rail trains.

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  • Johnny Bye Carter October 19, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Instead of a floating bus island where people can cross the bike lane when it’s convenient they now have to cross right when the bus gets there, possibly at the same time bicycles are coming up.

    They did a horrible job of separating pedestrians from vehicles here. A leap frog with bikes and buses would have been preferred.

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  • Jim Lee October 20, 2018 at 8:22 am

    I bet many cyclists will “…pull an Idaho…” on bus users.

    More than once I have been jumped by fast cyclists on the sidewalk in front of Noho’s who have run the flashing red at 26th and Clinton as I exited the 10 bus there.

    Entitled much!

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    • Johnny Bye Carter October 21, 2018 at 1:10 pm

      “jumped by fast cyclists on the sidewalk”

      I don’t know what this means.

      I think it means that you’ve been salmoned by fast cyclists on Clinton running through the stop at 26th while you’re in the crosswalk.

      Yes, it’s almost as bad as when drivers do it. Not enough cyclists, I mean, people of all modes, give proper right of way to pedestrians.

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  • Mark smith October 20, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    The first time a cyclist hits a rider, the jig is up. Yeah, it works all over the world because those riders are slower. American riders , a lot of them must haul ass at all times. The bike lane needs to go on the other side of the island.

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    • Johnny Bye Carter October 21, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      Exactly! Using Copenhagen as an example doesn’t work because those citizens already respect cycling as a mode of transport.

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  • Kittens October 21, 2018 at 12:46 am

    I think it would be cool if there were a little crossing arms at either end of the bikeway, just to drive the point home.

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    • Johnny Bye Carter October 21, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      This is TriMet, Not Union Pacific. So we won’t get cool automated crossing arms. But I do suspect that they might put in manual swing gates to prevent cyclists from entering the platform too quickly. TriMet likes to put obstacles in the way of cyclists.

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  • Jim Lee October 21, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    Johnny Bye Carter
    “jumped by fast cyclists on the sidewalk”I don’t know what this means.I think it means that you’ve been salmoned by fast cyclists on Clinton running through the stop at 26th while you’re in the crosswalk.Yes, it’s almost as bad as when drivers do it. Not enough cyclists, I mean, people of all modes, give proper right of way to pedestrians.Recommended 0

    No, Johnny, no!

    I was getting off the back door on the 10 bus when a roadie schussbooming down Clinton was incensed by said bus blocking his/her normal schussbooming route on the street, so she/he jumped the curb onto the sidewalk in front of Noho’s and began knocking over innocent pedestrians.

    That said, the best urban riding I have seen also was produced at 26th & Clinton by a studley fixie rider who, scrupulously obeying all traffic laws and devices, pulled track-stands to manipulate slow motorists, tailgating them in their blind spot, then blasting ass past at the first safe clearance.

    Fixies accelerate like rockets!

    Johnny, be good!

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  • Kem Marks October 22, 2018 at 10:15 am

    This is a terrible design. People will get hurt with this design. There are no vertical delineators so bikes won’t be kept in the lane, people getting of the will have a blind spot and will step in front of cyclists who don’t yield. TriMet and PBOT are smoking shit if they think it will go as they “demonstrated” in the video.

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