Portland Has a Plan to Do for Buses What It Did for Cycling

Portland's plan would give high ridership bus routes dedicated lanes, signal priority at intersections, and other features that will speed service. Photo: City of Portland
Portland's plan would give high ridership bus routes dedicated lanes, signal priority at intersections, and other features that will speed service. Photo: City of Portland

A city best known for its bike infrastructure has been giving some thought to how its streets can be designed to better serve people who ride the bus.

Portland officials are developing a plan for a network of “Enhanced Transit Corridors,” carving out space in the street for buses so vehicles with 30 passengers aren’t stuck in a quagmire of vehicles carrying just one.

Portland is starting the process of holding public meetings and gathering feedback for the plan. Though the proposed corridors aren’t final, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has identified a handful of high-ridership bus routes where improvements would be a priority.

Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland gives a sneak preview of the city’s concept:

Based on a toolkit PBOT has already developed, “middle transit” is like a high-powered bus line that stops short of being the type of full-fledged bus rapid transit (BRT) systems we see in places like China and Colombia. Their enhanced transit corridors will have things like bus-only lanes, traffic signal priority, fewer and more efficient stops, better bikeway integration and more.

Working with TriMet data, PBOT has already identified several corridors they’d like to move forward with. They want to gain funding to plan for changes to line 72 (between Killingsworth and 82nd), 12 (NE Sandy Blvd), and (MLK Jr. Blvd to Jantzen Beach). The idea is to get a list of projects into the City’s Transportation System Plan and Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan.

If this “enhanced transit” becomes a real thing — the impact to the bicycling environment could be profound. With better transit we’ll see fewer cars which leads to safer roads, stronger community connections, more efficient mobility for everyone, cleaner air, and more bicycling and walking.

More recommended reading today: First State Bikes says a package of bicycle safety measures, including a rule that would allow cyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs, is likely on its way to passage in the Delaware Statehouse. And Greater Greater Washington reports that higher fares and reduced service go into effect across the WMATA system this weekend.

  • Seattle has a plan to do for cycling what it did for buses…..but the actual projects get delayed for years.

  • war_on_hugs

    Dear lord, does DC need a plan like this. The Metrobus system is actually pretty well run overall, but the delays and bunching at rush hour really degrade service. Meanwhile, plans for bus-only lanes even at limited times and corridors (16th St. NW) have been “studied” for years with no action. Hope Portland can do better.

  • So in other words, Portland is implementing quality bus that might be similar to what every competent European city already, including with bus lanes. Better late than never, I guess.

  • Saying Portland is known best for bike lanes is laughable. Portland is best known for its transit infrastructure, not its bike infrastructure. That transit infrastructure has included downtown bus-priority corridors for years. And years. This effort builds upon that longstanding history. This article completely ignores it to make a point. I thought it was just Streetsblog Chicago that grinds an axe by only reporting half the facts to suit its purposes of the moment.

  • Rogue Cyclist

    Forgot about the new car-free Tilikum Crossing too.


How Long Will Dallas Take to Make a Better Bus Network?

A lot of cities and transit agencies have been inspired by Houston’s recent effort to overhaul its bus network with a grid of high-frequency routes. One of those cities is its neighbor to the north, Dallas. According to Brandon Formby at the Dallas Morning News’ Transportation Blog, DART is planning to redesign its bus network, with many of the same goals: transforming from […]

Denver’s Big Opportunity for World-Class Streets

Just a few months ago, Denver opened its first protected bike lane on 15th Street. But was that a one-off project or will the Mile High City change the way it designs streets citywide? The city’s approach to the redesign of Broadway will give a pretty strong indication of how serious Denver leaders are about […]