TriMet is seeking public comment on major changes to its bus service in coming years. The regional transit agency is hoping to expand service by 30%. That includes overall increases in ridership, especially for those with low incomes. But service would also be reduced in areas defined as low-density and higher income.
"COVID-19 changed where people go and how they get there. At TriMet, we recognize that we may need to make big changes as a result. As we come out of the pandemic, we want to make sure that our transit service reflects the current needs of the community," TriMet said on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
TriMet said its "Forward Together" concept could change 80% of bus service. It is based on an initial survey of 5,500 riders, stakeholders and community members conducted in spring 2022.
Goals include bringing service closer to 50,000 more residents and making weekend service available to 100,000 more people. It would also create new routes serving new areas in all three counties, especially in East Multnomah County and parts of Washington County. But existing service could be reduced to parts of such westside communities as Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Tualatin and West Linn.
The changes are being considered during an unprecedented — but possibly temporary — reduction in TriMet ridership. According to the US Census, the share of people using public transportation to commute to work fell dramatically during the pandemic. A mere 15,000 Portlanders used public transit to commute daily in 2021, down from 49,000 in 2019 — a 69% drop. Carpooling, walking and bike commuting also saw huge declines.
Although the concepts was just released, it has already received pushback from Beaverton City Councilor-elect Kevin Teater.
"I'm sad to be losing the bus lines on Lombard and Denny in Beaverton. Those are my buses when I don't have my bike. Also sad to see north Beaverton losing more routes. North and northwest Beaverton are already difficult to access via transit," Teater said in a Sept. 28 tweet.
After completing a community engagement process, the changes are expected to begin in 2023. TriMet must overcome its current driver shortage before they can be completed, however.
TriMet has announced several opportunities to learn more and provide feedback, including a website with details of the potential changes, an online survey and six in-person and online open houses in October.
The new website with details about all proposed route changes, the online survey, and links to the online open houses can be found at trimet.org/forward.
'Future Together' open houses
Tuesday, Oct. 18: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., PCC Cascade, Lobby of Cascade Hall, 5625 N. Albina Avenue, Portland.
Wednesday, Oct. 19: 4 to 6 p.m., Rosewood Initiative, 14127 S.E. Stark St., Portland.
Thursday, Oct. 20: 5 to 7 p.m., Shute Park Library, 775 S.E. 10th Ave., Hillsboro.
Saturday, Oct. 22: 1:30 to 3 p.m., Zoom virtual open house in Spanish.
Wednesday, Oct. 26: 5 to 7 p.m., CCC Harmony, Room 120/130, 7738 S.E. Harmony Road, Milwaukie.
Thursday, Oct. 27: 5:30 to 7 p.m., Zoom virtual open house in English.
The most detailed explanation of the concept can be found here.
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