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Cedar Mill News
Volume 7, Issue 3


March 2009

TriMet proposes cuts, changes to
Cedar Mill area service
by Virginia Bruce, editor

Last month, TriMet, the public agency that provides bus, van and train transit throughout the metropolitan Portland area, announced in early February that due to the economic recession, they need to cut their fiscal-year 2010 budget by $13.5 million. TriMet is mainly financed by payroll and other taxes (54%), and with the Oregon jobless rate at around 10% the math isn’t hard to figure.

Proposed cuts include a five percent across-the-board cut and reductions to bus and MAX service. The agency is hopeful that federal stimulus funds may offset some planned agency investments, and in turn, enable TriMet to reduce service cuts. TriMet says that the two most important criteria they used in determining service cuts were ridership levels and the availability of alternative service nearby.

Line 60-Leahy Road is proposed to be cut entirely. The line, which runs in a loop from the Transit Center along Barnes Road, up Leahy to Cornell, and back to the Transit Center along Cedar Hills Bl., has a ridership average of 10.1 people per vehicle hour, with a cost of $9.21 per ride. The line only operates during commute hours on weekdays.

Cedar Mill shuttle
The future of the Cedar Mill Shuttle is uncertain at this time, we'll let you know what we find out next month, but in the meantime, be sure to let TriMet know your concerns!

The future of the Cedar Mill Shuttle is unclear at this time. The TriMet website says the service will “change to regular bus service instead of subscription-based service. Details to be announced.” TriMet representatives will be at the March CPO1 meeting to address the changes but no details are available at press time.

Proposed changes to the MAX schedule are generally to run less frequent trains (every 30 mintues instead of every 15-20 minutes) in the early morning and late evening on weekdays and on weekends.

TriMet has begun a three-month comment and refinement phase where the public can help shape the final service cut plan. Meetings were scheduled in late February with the final meeting on March 3 in Beaverton. If you were unable to attend, they are also accepting comments until 5 pm, Tuesday March 31 at TriMet-MK2, 4012 SE 17th Ave., Portland, OR 97202; Email comments@trimet.org; Phone 503-962-5806; Fax 503-962-6469; TTY 503-238-5811 (7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays) Service changes are scheduled to take effect September 2009.

Brief history of TriMet

Prior to the late sixties, 34 different entities—public, private, or combinations—tried to create a workable transit system for the Portland area, but none was successful. With Rose City Transit facing bankruptcy in 1969, the Portland City Council created the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, and the state legislature passed a bill allowing the creation of transit districts and providing them with the power to raise revenue through a payroll tax.

But transit continued to struggle as the focus remained on highway expansions. In the early 1970s the state’s “Transportation Plan for 1990” recommended 54 major highway projects, celebrating the growing use of the family car. The report predicted that “Portland’s still-declining bus system would remain insignificant as a transportation means except for the rush hour commute downtown,” where traffic jams were common.

In 1973, TriMet completed an “immediate action plan” and a “1990 Master Plan” to reverse the transit system’s decline. It recommended consolidating all local bus service under TriMet, concentrating downtown service on transit malls along 5th and 6th avenues, building suburban Park & Ride lots, and expanding the number of buses.

Increased flexibility to use federal transportation funding on mass transit projects enabled TriMet to explore options beyond buses. The Oregon Public Utility Commission published a report proposing a regional light rail system based largely on existing railroad right-of-ways. The Oregon Legislature adopted Senate Bill 100 establishing land-use laws to protect livability and prevent sprawl. Weekly ridership on buses and MAX has increased for 20 consecutive years.

Eastside MAX opened in 1986, and we got our segment of MAX in 1998. The Sunset Transit Center afforded access to the system for Cedar Mill residents. The Cedar Mill Shuttle (see Cedar Mill News, October 2003) was established to connect people in our hilly and busless neighborhoods to the Transit Center. It started with door-to-door cab service serving residents from 6 am until 7 pm weekdays, but in 2002 it was replaced by TriMet vans available from 6-9 am and 3-7 pm on weekdays.

The Sunset Transit Center, which is also considered to be a Park’n’Ride lot, fills up by 7:30 on weekdays. TriMet says this is partly due to people throughout the county who drive to the station and leave their cars to avoid downtown parking. Numerous suggestions to expand the station or institute a resident-preference system have not been addressed. And that is the only Park’n’Ride location in Cedar Mill.

Public transit north of Highway 26 is problematic for several reasons. For one thing, people who are really transit-dependent don’t tend to move to the area. This keeps demand low. In addition, the terrain and spread-out nature of the neighborhoods makes it difficult to design a public transit system that’s cost effective. And it doesn’t look like it will get better anytime soon.



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Published monthly by Cedar Mill Advertising & Design
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291