bikes and transit

‘Gorge Express’ bus service returns with major upgrades

by on May 26th, 2017 at 9:35 am

The new and improved buses. You can stow your bike down below and get a $5 ride to the Gorge!

In yet another example of the wondrous potential of bus transit, the State of Oregon is starting up their Columbia Gorge Express service starting today.

The service was launched last year by the Oregon Department of Transportation as a response to congestion and parking problems in the Gorge. Because so many people drove their personal cars to the waterfalls and hiking trails, illegal parking was rampant as the few lots that exist often reached capacity. The Historic Columbia River Highway that connects all the destinations would routinely become packed with people and their cars, making it unsafe and unpleasant for all users.

Almost as soon as the service was offered it proved extremely popular. For $5 round-trip, the mid-sized buses picked people up at the Gateway Transit Center and dropped off at two popular spots in the Gorge. In the 18 weekends it was offered last summer, the service exceeded ODOT’s expectations with over 30,000 riders.

This year ODOT is doubling-down. Yesterday they announced larger buses with more amenitites and a host of other service improvements:

– Bigger buses to accommodate more riders and reduce wait times.
– A new stop location among the bus bays at the Gateway Transit Center, closer to bus and MAX stops.
– A new stop location at Rooster Rock State Park with more seating and shaded areas.
– A staff person at Rooster Rock State Park and Multnomah Falls during service hours to smooth operations, answer questions and inform riders when the next bus is due.
– Buses will now accept cash and credit cards, though riders are encouraged to buy tickets online to avoid boarding delays.

We’ve also heard from an ODOT source that the larger buses can accomodate bicycles in the luggage area. Moving blankets will be provided so you can wrap up your bike before stowing it away. Up to three bicycles will be allowed per bus. Last year the buses had a rack that could hold three bikes. It’s likely the luggage area can hold more than three bikes, so — while we wouldn’t count on it — hopefully bus operators will be flexible with the three bike rule. Even if your bike doesn’t fit, there are 12 departures per day. First bus leaves Gateway at 8:45 am and the final bus back to Portland leaves Multnomah Falls at 6:40 pm.

The service begins today and will run through September 24th (including federal holidays).

ODOT says they’re still evaluating the service and it could expand even further next year. In yesterday’s announcement they said the Gorge Express Bus, “could become daily and extend to Hood River with stops at additional Gorge destinations accessible from I-84.”

Check out ColumbiaGorgeExpress.com for more info and start planning your ride today!

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

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ODOT eyes expansion of Gorge bus service after successful first year

by on October 24th, 2016 at 10:31 am

Half of the four-bus fleet.(Photo: ODOT)

Half of the four-bus fleet.
(Photo: ODOT)

Turns out there are other ways to solve auto overcrowding and congestion than spending billions on freeway expansions.

The first season of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Columbia Gorge Express bus service has “far surpassed” expectations, the agency announced this morning. “The public response highlighted a significant demand for transit service in the Gorge.”

Launched in May as a way to relieve serious overcrowding of private cars in the Gorge, the service carried more than 30,000 people between the Gateway Transit Center, Rooster Rock State Park, and Multnomah Falls. The service was offered for 18 weekends and it was the first year of a two-year pilot project. There were initially three, 20-seat buses, with a third, 53-seat bus added in July. All four buses had bicycle racks that ODOT says were “used every day.”
[Read more…]

Gal by Bike: My ride on the new Columbia Gorge Express

by on June 1st, 2016 at 8:57 am

My bike and my ride to the Gorge - all ready to roll!(Photos by Kiel Johnson and Kate Laudermilk)

My bike and my ride to the Gorge – all ready to roll!
(Photos by Kiel Johnson and Kate Laudermilk)

Our Gal by Bike columnist Kate Laudermilk was one of the first people to ride the Columbia Gorge Express — a new transit option with service between Portland and Multnomah Falls.

One of the arguments I made as I desperately tried to convince myself that I needed to buy a new car after parting ways with my partner (and our car) four years ago was that I needed a car to fully experience all of the natural wonders surrounding Portland.

I felt like I was going to be trapped in Portland until the end of my days.

Little did I know that, when you don’t have a car, you get creative. You use the old noggin. I no longer feel trapped in any way.
[Read more…]

In some metro areas, bike commuting is nearing the scale of transit commuting

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on December 4th, 2015 at 9:59 am

bike commuting transit commuting

This data from the U.S. Census includes both urban and suburban areas.
(Chart: BikePortland)

The unfortunately named new federal transportation bill, the FAST Act, is headed for a presidential signature after passing the House of Representatives Thursday.

While biking and transit advocates are sounding two cheers for the latest extension of the status quo (rather than the complete car-centrism favored by Koch-funded advocacy groups), it’s a good time to consider the ways transportation differs in cities across the country.

[Read more…]

TriMet survey and mapping exercise seeks input from riders who ride

by on October 7th, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Ride Along with Justin Gast-14

Take your bike on MAX? Be sure to share your feedback and ideas with TriMet.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

As part of an ongoing effort to create their first-ever Bike Plan, TriMet has launched an online survey and mapping exercise.
[Read more…]

TriMet announces open houses for first-ever Bike Plan

by on September 25th, 2015 at 11:52 am

Bikes on TriMet MAX-5.jpg

How can we make it easier and more efficient to take bikes on transit vehicles? TriMet’s Bike Plan is our chance to weigh in on that and other issues.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

With the opening of the new Orange Line giving TriMet railcars and buses even larger footprint in our region, there’s never been a more important time for the agency improve access for bicycles. Making sure that bikes integrate well with transit stops, parking options and on transit vehicles themselves is crucial to Portland’s low-car future.
[Read more…]

What’s the point of bike share? This survey explains it well

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on September 10th, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Bike share demo-11-10

A bike share demo in Portland, 2011.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

In the last two days, we’ve reported in detail about the new bike-sharing system that Portland finally seems poised to secure next week.

All of these operational details have prompted a lot of discussion around a simple, fundamental question that everybody (including me, when I started reporting on bike sharing four years ago) tends to struggle with. What exactly is the point of bike sharing?

The charts below should help a lot.

[Read more…]

TriMet scores grant to study the world’s best bike + transit ideas

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on October 22nd, 2014 at 9:16 am

TriMet bus with rack

One possibility: a system for tracking
bike rack capacity on buses.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

TriMet is a few months away from what its lead bike planner called a “pretty major” year-long review of the ways its transit system interacts with bikes.

“This effort will really help us in future years to make sure that we’re prioritizing the right projects at the right locations,” Active Transportation Planner Jeff Owen said in an interview Tuesday.

A $108,000 state grant awarded in August and $19,000 from TriMet will let the regional transit agency hire a consultant to gather best practices from around the world and make recommendations to TriMet about bike parking, how best to carry bikes on trains and buses, how to build transit lines with bike access in mind and other issues.

“We can’t think of everything ourselves, and outside ideas are really beneficial and powerful,” Owen said. “A lot of it might be things that we’re aware of, of course, but they could really bring some new ideas and creative thinking into it.”

[Read more…]

‘Transit on Tap’ event will highlight Kaiser’s folding e-bike loan program

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on July 17th, 2014 at 2:33 pm

ebikelead

A few employers own bicycles that they can loan to their workers as an introduction to bike commuting, but a Kaiser Permanente Northwest pilot program this year is taking that to the next level.

The health company is loaning folding e-bikes to 180 of its employees.

The goal is, in part, to increase active commutes by introducing more commuters to the transit-friendly vehicles that can address one of the biggest reasons workers neither bike or bus to work: they live too far away to bike, and too far from a bus stop to take transit.

[Read more…]

TriMet’s problem intersection on E. Burnside also includes bike/MAX collision

by on April 20th, 2012 at 10:57 am

Portland Twilight Criterium 2008-6.jpg

Well known local rider, bike advocate,
and lawyer Mark Ginsberg collided
with a MAX train while crossing E. Burnside
in January 2011.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The intersection of E Burnside, 97th Ave, and the I-205 multi-use path seems to have a worse safety record than I first realized. It’s more dangerous than I realized when I posted about Sharon Fekety’s nasty tumble on the tracks back in 2007. It’s also more dangerous than I realized when I posted about the spill Thomas Crosslin took Wednesday morning while biking to work.

I learned about both of those incidents (not to mention others shared in comments) before I knew that noted local lawyer (who specializes in bike law), accomplished bike racer, daily bike commuter, and long-time Portland citizen activist Mark Ginsberg was involved in a collision with a MAX train while bicycling through that same intersection in January 2011.

According to Ginsberg, he was riding the north on the I-205 path with a friend after a long ride. When the I-205 path gets to E. Burnside, it switches from the west side of the freeway to the east side. To make this switch, the route directs bike traffic onto the south sidewalk of the E. Burnside overpass to go east and then it takes an abrupt left turn to go north via the painted crosswalk on E. Burnside (see graphic below). This turn shifts a rider’s eyes view from looking directly east to looking north and midway through the intersection is a set of MAX tracks.[Read more…]