Portland works to make bus system more efficient

TriMet bus speeds decreased 5.6% between 2009 and 2014

A TriMet bus in downtown Portland, May 7, 2015 (KOIN)
A TriMet bus in downtown Portland, May 7, 2015 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Traffic in the Portland area is only getting worse and that means some TriMet buses are struggling to maintain schedules and get riders where they need to go.

With a couple hundred thousand more people expected to move into the metro area, increasing access to public transportation and making it more efficient during rush hour is a critical priority for the city.

“The Portland Bureau of Transportation is keenly aware of all the congestion issues affecting buses and we want to do all we can with the city to help TriMet provide faster, more frequent service,” PBOT spokesperson Dylan Rivera said.

TriMet directors recently learned that average bus speeds fell 5.6% between 2009 and 2014. Between downtown and Lents it fell 8% over 6 years.

“We’re definitely in an expansion mode right now where we’re adding service as we can,” TriMet spokesperson Roberta Alstadt said. “We’re getting funding from the state transportation package to put in a low income fare program. It’s all very exciting for us.”

The Portland Bureau of Transportation and TriMet are working on different solutions to let buses move around more freely in traffic and have already implemented some solutions.

“Something we’ve already done is we made transit-only lanes leading up to some of the bridges,” Rivera said.

In the next three years, only ideas may be implemented, including signals that would let the bus go before other traffic at intersections. One other idea is to consolidate bus stops to increase the distance between them and reduce the number of stops.

The Portland City Council passed a plan that looks at many ways the city can improve the commute for buses.