Through the end of 2015, TriMet is asking for feedback and ideas for improving bus service, bus stops and street crossings in east Portland (generally east of I-205), Fairview, Gresham, Troutdale and Wood Village. As part of TriMet’s Eastside Service Enhancement Plan, they held a series of community meetings and conducted surveys to gather feedback from riders, community groups, and businesses. Forty-five percent of survey respondents indicated they do not have access to a car—highlighting the need for more and better transit service.
TriMet’s draft vision includes three new north-south lines, three new Frequent Service lines, more frequent and longer hours of service and more weekend service on existing lines. The majority of new service will be provided in areas of higher-than-average minority and low-income populations.
TriMet said the changes they propose would improve access to jobs, education, healthcare, affordable and healthy food, affordable housing and essential services.
Q: Does TriMet have a standard to measure cost-benefit, like how many dollars for each rider is a reasonable project cost?
A: Our services range in cost based on geography, the number of riders using the service and many other factors. We look at cost-effectiveness of service primarily with boardings per vehicle hour. We do not, however, use a single standard cost-benefit measure because our agency has many different communities and areas that we serve. Our board has adopted priority considerations that we use in service planning.
Q: Is there a measure of social benefit, for instance, in linking the unemployed with areas where there’s a need for transit options?
A: We look at equity in conjunction with other factors as we analyze potential service investments. We use the following considerations to guide our service planning decision-making:
• Equity—serving areas with the most need, particularly those that have been historically underserved, such as low-income communities and communities of color
• Demand and Productivity—the numbers of people who we would project to use any given service investment
• Connections—providing service in areas of high importance, such as job centers and schools
• Growth—locations where population and employment is expected to increase in the future.
Q: Does TriMet survey neighbors in an area? This is referring not just to surveying TriMet riders on what is needed but also individuals not using TriMet for a particular reason. If certain services are provided, would those individuals begin using them?
A: We have heard from riders and non-riders about what kinds of service improvements would benefit them the most. To gather input for the Eastside Service Enhancement Plan, we surveyed riders and non-riders in the fall of 2014 and sent out more than 20,000 postcards in multiple languages to households asking for their input. We have also attended East Portland Action Plan meetings, neighborhood association meetings and other events to reach people who don’t currently ride TriMet. We’ve incorporated input from riders and non-riders into the Eastside Service Enhancement Plan Draft Vision.
Q: How are route extensions determined?
A: We work closely with the City of Portland and the other jurisdictions to make sure we understand where any future street improvements may occur. Any new bus lines or extensions of an existing line are proposed because we have to analyze the demand for transit service in the area, understand what neighborhoods, jobs, or other destinations are located there and understand any projections for future growth. New connections are only shown where the jurisdiction has a plan to make those roadway improvements in the future.
Q: Is first priority given to commuters, and if not, should it be? Public transit gets them out of their cars and opens employment opportunities by linking moderate-income households with moderate-paying job centers.
A: TriMet service is open to all, and we don’t have a policy to prioritize one type of trip over another. However, we do look at ways that our service investments can provide value for the largest number of people, and that is often accomplished through maximizing service at key commuting times.
Read the draft vision for future service and take the survey at http://future.trimet.org/east. Here’s an example of some comments that riders made:
Line C: Along with improved service on Line 71 This is a good idea. It can improve commuting for low-wage workers to employment in the Airport Way corridor. Improved commuter alternatives make sense.
Lines 22 and 23: Not sure there’s a proven need. In addition, since the neighborhood is about fully developed, people are not locating in the area due to a lack of service. Since current 2035 revisions of the Transportation System Plan shows the removal of the extension of Fremont to Northeast 148th, and since most of the required right-of-way would need to be acquired and not necessarily from owners interested in creating the street, neither makes sense nor has a basis in reality. Furthermore, we are not sure where the additional ridership would come from.
Line D: If Lines C and 87 were built, and east-west lines were developed, would it be needed?