TriMet FX2-Division project improves transit, safety
Service on TriMet's new FX2-Division line starts on Sunday, Sept. 18. The public is invited to preview it on Saturday with a community celebration along the route, including free rides on the new 60-foot articulated buses.
The Division Transit Project will deliver multiple benefits to those living, working, shopping and visiting Division Street between Portland and Gresham. They include both better service and safety improvements intended to reduce deaths and injuries along the high crash corridor.
One of the service improvements is faster, more reliable and more efficient bus trips. Historically, more than 10,000 bus riders used TriMet's Line 2-Division daily. Over the years, the reliability of the service declined because of high demand. Buses filled at peak hours were forced to pass stops where other riders were waiting.
TriMet's first-ever FX — Frequent Express — line will improve service with:
• New, longer 60-foot articulated buses that have room for 60% more riders than TriMet's standard buses. The new buses feature multiple-door boarding, allowing riders to enter and exit quickly. Bikes can be brought on board, rather than placed in a rack on the front of the bus while the bus waits.
• The locations of stops along the route, between the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People in Portland and Gresham's Cleveland Park & Ride, have been streamlined. The line features 42 pairs of bus stations located where demand is the greatest, minimizing travel times while providing essential transit connections. The platforms are higher, so the buses don't need to 'kneel' or lower as much, reducing the time a bus needs to dwell at the station.
• Business Access & Transit (BAT) lanes move the buses around traffic at key locations and stretches. BAT lanes have been installed at traditionally congested intersections east of SE 82nd Avenue. In some locations, the BAT lanes stretch for several blocks. The longest is a 12-block stretch eastbound between SE 110th and 122nd avenues.
• Next-generation transit signal priority technology, which uses advancements in machine learning to have buses and traffic signals communicate with each other, will track the FX buses in real-time and allow them first access through intersections.
• FX buses will cross over the Willamette River using Tilikum Crossing, the dedicated transit/pedestrian bridge, and the bus-only alignment between Southeast Eighth Avenue and Division and Southwest Naito Parkway, getting them out of auto congestion.
"The buses, transit priority treatments and routing coming with FX will help the bus service live up to its Frequent Express name," said TriMet Chief Operating Officer Bonnie Todd. "Riders will be able to rely on FX to move them quicker, and ultimately more people will have the confidence to get on board."
TriMet has five MAX light rail lines serving the Portland metro region. With the building of each one came extensive safety improvements to help protect pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and the trains themselves. Those improvements included new sidewalks, bike paths, dedicated light rail stations, and enhanced street crossings.
The Division Transit Project is the metro area's first high-capacity bus project to require infrastructure and right-of-way treatments more similar to a light rail project. Like those projects, the Division Transit Project is putting in new protected bike lanes and crossings to help riders reach the stations and improve Division Street's safety for everyone.
It's part of a regional commitment to increase safety in the city's most dangerous high-crash corridor that has seen many fatal and severe injury crashes.
According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, between 2011 and 2020, 24 deaths and 130 serious injuries occurred on Division Street between Southeast 12th and Southeast 174th avenues, the dividing line with Gresham. As of July 28, between 2021 and 2022, there were another four deaths.
The Division Transit Project safety improvements were designed with close cooperation between TriMet, PBOT, the City of Gresham, and the Oregon Department of Transportation. They include signalized intersections, protected bike paths, enhanced street crossings, and median dividers with additional crossing protections.
TriMet worked closely with PBOT to install protected intersections at 122nd, 148th, and 162nd avenues. The fully protected intersections — the first of their kind in the Portland region — create a safety barrier between people and vehicles, providing a refuge when walking across busy Division Street.
Raised center medians were also added as part of TriMet's collaboration with PBOT. The concrete slabs create a barrier between eastbound and westbound traffic. While that limits where vehicles can make left turns, it is a proven tool for reducing crashes. New Business Access and Transit lanes in key locations allow buses to move past traffic while still providing autos access to businesses. PBOT also has reduced speeds on Division to 30 miles per hour.
"The City of Portland heard from the community that people wanted this to be more than just a transit project," Portland Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said. "They wanted better bus service, but also safety, housing, and jobs. The Division projects will make our streets safer for everyone traveling in East Portland."
"We worked with accessibility, pedestrian and bicycling advocates to design safety features for people who travel on and along Division Street," said Division Transit Project Director Michael Kiser. "These safety improvements create better visibility between people walking, biking and driving, making for a safer community for everyone."
Major safety enhancements
• Raised center medians between the east and west travel lanes to restrict where vehicles can cross lanes and reduce crashes. PBOT estimates they will reduce crashes by 47%.
• Eleven new marked crosswalks with stoplights, median islands, or flashing lights to increase safety crossing the busy street; ten more signalized pedestrian crossings; existing pedestrian crossings upgrades, including lighting improvements. PBOT estimates that signalized crossings will reduce pedestrian crashes by 56%.
• Some 4.5 miles of protected bike lanes, with physical separation when possible, to better guard bicyclists against motor vehicles. PBOT estimates that will reduce bike crashes by 11%.
• Nearly 81,000 square feet of new sidewalks along the corridor, including 59,000 square feet in Portland and 22,000 square feet in Gresham.
• New street lighting installed along the corridor at all new crossing locations as part of both the Division Transit Project and PBOT's safety project.
Grand opening celebration set Sept. 17
TriMet FX will be a new type of improved bus service that will be faster and more reliable than standard bus service on Sunday, Sept. 18. To celebrate the launch of its first FX line — FX2-Division — and this historic new service, TriMet will host a grand opening the day before, on Saturday, Sept. 17. It'll be a family-friendly event open to the public to celebrate community and culture. During the celebration, free rides will be provided on its new, longer, green FX buses.
Learn more about the celebration here.
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