TriMet just rolled out its second round of transit changes of the year, with southwest Portland as the focus. In particular, big changes came to the routes serving Portland’s largest employer, Oregon Health & Sciences University, on Marquam Hill. And since TriMet also made significant changes to my favorite bus line, I took it for a ride and figured you might want to come along.
But first, a quick refresh…
BikePortland covered TriMet’s planned overhaul of Marquam Hill service last January. The plan discontinued five express lines originating across the region that mainly served administrative and office workers commuting during the standard rush-hour. Many of those employees now work from home and those buses were running close to empty. In place of that network design, this week’s changes accommodate the many hospital and university employees who do not work typical office hours—not even to mention patients, who come and go all day.
The redesign has the Hillsdale neighborhood functioning as a transfer station between buses heading, alternately, to downtown or Marquam Hill. Some riders will have to transfer buses, but the new network achieves all-day service.
These changes were part of TriMet’s Forward Together project, which was developed in collaboration with Jarret Walker + Associates, a Portland-based transit consulting company with national and international clients. Jarret Walker posted on his blog this week “a little deep dive into how bus network designers think,” in which he goes through the reasoning behind the redesigned southwest network. You might not agree with it all, but no matter how you slice it, southwest Portland has been seen.
Now for the fun part. I really like buses. My bus route, the 51, is one of the least important in the city, but because it brings all those Lincoln students to high school TriMet can’t completely drop it. Over the years, however, they’ve managed to cut it back to really limited rush-hour only service.
The problem, as Tom Mills (TriMet’s Director of Planning and Policy) once told me, “is that your bus doesn’t go anywhere.”
Until this week!
Forward Together gave my line an outbound destination, and what a destination it is—The Fred Meyer grocery store on Barbur Blvd. (Previously, the 51 just ran from downtown up the hill, and back down.) So in celebration of Forward Together, and to check out the Rose Lane and transfer location in Hillsdale, I decided to do a little early morning grocery shopping. You want to come along?
I caught the 6:48 at the corner of Vista and Broadway. The bus was clean, on-time and had a very friendly driver. Upon entering, I immediately noticed a funny screen—and I was on it. Apparently, screwballs are less likely to attack a driver if they seem themselves on TV.
The screen also shows that I was the only person on the bus. And unfortunately, it stayed that way all the way to Barbur. But it was still exciting, this 51 was going where no 51 had gone before.
My 51, and the 43 in front, have just left the bus transfer stop in front of Ida B. Wells High School. The 43 will head up to Marquam Hill, and the 51 will make a right on Terwilliger.
I made it to Fred Meyer, did some shopping, and happily there was a wet bench for me to sit on while I waited for my bus back home.
I rode on the Capitol Hwy Rose Lane approaching Sunset Blvd, and soon my bus began to fill with Lincoln students.
Did you take the bus this week?
I plan to get back in the habit. The 51 is a modest little route, but the strategic jiggling TriMet has done in my local service area has piqued my interest. This is the first time I’ve been able to take a bus to a grocery store. Who knows what I’ll figure out next?