A year later: Orange Line exceeds Milwaukie hopes

Orange Line opened September 12, 2015

Trains were crowded on the first day of the Orange line, Sept. 12, 2015 (KOIN)
Trains were crowded on the first day of the Orange line, Sept. 12, 2015 (KOIN)

MILWAUKIE, Ore. (KOIN) — When TriMet opened its Orange Line between Portland and Milwaukie a year ago, the hope was the transit liine would have a positive economic impact on the area.

A year later, the verdict is in — and the answer is yes.

Milwaukie city officials said there is an economic boost associated with the Orange Line. Officials said the downtown retail area is filling up and, according to Realtor.com, demand for homes has driven list prices up more than 12%.

Passengers crowd the MAX platform as they wait to board the Orange line on the first day, Sept. 12, 2015 (KOIN)
Passengers crowd the MAX platform as they wait to board the Orange line on the first day, Sept. 12, 2015 (KOIN)

City Manager Bill Monahan told the Milwaukie City Council last week the predicted crime increase just hasn’t happened at all.

“We have not had an amount of violent activity or things of that nature,
Monahan said.

At one point, the city considered hiring 7 more police officers, but now they’re making do with one part-time person.

Thomas Martinez, who opened his Rohst Coffee Shop the same day the Orange Line began on September 12, 2015, said the train has been great.

Thomas Martinez, the owner of Rohst Coffee in Milwaukie, October 10, 2016 (KOIN)
Thomas Martinez, the owner of Rohst Coffee in Milwaukie, October 10, 2016 (KOIN)

“We were apprehensive about it being the crime train, but as far as us during the day business we don’t really see a lot of crime,” Martinez told KOIN 6 News. “We have people coming to and from all the time, which is actually kind of enjoyable to sit here and watch people in their commutes.”

Next door, EV International distributor John Langston is looking for more help.

“You can see my signs. I’m now hiring,” Langston said. “It gets lots of foot traffic ..and you can see that from the platform over there.”

Lindsay Lydon, a Realtor at Vitality Home Realty, said the Orange Line has been “awesome. I see kids, grandparents, families. It’s extremely safe.”

Riders waiting to get on the Orange Line MAX train in Milwaukie, October 10, 2016 (KOIN)
Riders waiting to get on the Orange Line MAX train in Milwaukie, October 10, 2016 (KOIN)

Lydon said the Orange Line is also boosting home values.

“I think the Orange Line and just having this little slice of suburbia close to the city only helps things,” Lydon said. “It’s pretty awesome to see the community turn around and go through a revitalization process. It helps the Farmers Market on Sunday, and downtown, it’s bringing more businesses.”

TriMet is still working on overcrowding at the line’s park-and-ride facilities, probably the single biggest problem with the Orange Line. But it’s one worth dealing with for regular commuters.

“It’s wonderful having it here,” commuter Cameron Jacobson told KOIN 6 News. “It just makes things a lot easier.”