Bus Riders Unite! calls 82nd & Foster one of the Worst Bus Stops in Portland

Last week, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon and Bus Riders Unite! led the final meeting of their East Portland Bus Stop Prioritization project. The result was a list of the three worst bus stops in the City –a short list that includes one busy and chronically bad stop at 82nd and Foster.

portlands_worst_bus_atop_1The two-year long project involved an extensive public process, described as “Survivor-style” by the seriously great portlandafoot.org blog. The end result was that a broad group of transit users identified the East Portland bus stops in most need of upgrades.

On that short list: the sliver of sidewalk on the north side of Foster where hundreds of riders get on or off every weekday.

BRU! activist Eavan Moore told me that the stop’s heavy usage easily justifies a shelter, but there isn’t space to accomodate one given the narrow sidewalk there.

“Widening that sidewalk, by extending it into the street and/or by extending it into the adjacent parking lot, is a critical first step to making other improvements,” she says. Eavan would also like to see a garbage can, a posted schedule and better lighting too, but everything hinges on finding a way to create more space in the substandard sidewalk.

Purchasing part of the Wells Fargo parking lot to expand the sidewalk and bus stop is possible, but acquiring privately-owned right-of-way can be expensive, and hasn’t been something that’s been discussed so far by PBOT’s Foster Streetscape committee.

That’s not surprising, given the meager resources the City has allocated to that 2+ mile project.

Similarly, there’s a lot of competition for space within the existing roadway — making expansion there problematic too. The current configuration includes four auto through-lanes plus a center turn lane. The City’s 2010 Bike Plan anticipates bike lanes being added to the mix, and the 2009 Streetcar Plan includes a future Streetcar line here as well. So far, the Lents Neighborhood Association has opposed any reduction in auto lanes in the area.

It’s possible that the ongoing Foster Streetscape project could take these improvements on, but time is running short. None of the eight different possible street profiles considered by PBOT and the Streetscape committee for this area have included plans for expansion of these sidewalks beyond the current 5-foot width. (See http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/425424 at pp.9-11)

Other options could include requesting funds for improvements from Tri-Met or the PDC, but either of those paths could take years to see results on the ground.

But the activists working on the East Portland Bus Stop Prioritization Project expect to be involved for the long haul.

portlands_worst_bus_stop_2

OPAL Executive Director Jonathan Oster told me that the project is intended as a first step, enabling “the people who actually ride the buses in East Portland to identify, assess and prioritize the most important bus stops that warrant improvements in terms of amenities and infrastructure.” He says that the project screened more than 150 bus stops to identify 20 for further assessment. Of those, riders from the community chose the top 3 in need of immediate help.

The other two stops on the “3 Worst” list are both on SE Powell Boulevard: One is at 122nd and the other is at 127th. Both of those locations have similar issues to Foster and 82nd: inadequate space, poor lighting and amenities and terrible access for people with disabilities.

People looking to get involved in the movement for better bus stops or other aspects of advocacy for transit riders should get in touch with Bus Riders Unite! here.

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the article John,

    I believe we will see upgrades to this intersection, including squiring property for wider sidewalks here as a part of the streetscape plan. We haven’t seen any details, but Mauricio, the City Planner on the project mentioned that they were exploring the possibilities. This is our best chance to really see improvements to this intersection, and I hope we can impress upon the City how important it is.

    I hope we hear more concrete details the Foster Road Open House. This open house is a big deal for people to attend.

  2. John,

    Great article; this is exactly the kind of feedback we are looking for as we update the Streetscape Plan.

    Widening the sidewalk at 82nd and Foster through right-of-way acquisition was included in PBOT’s 2014-2015 Regional Flexible Funds allocation. See the “Crossroads District” on page 6 of the application. We discussed it at the November 15, 2012 SAC meeting.

    In addition, the RFF grant includes $125,000 for bus stop improvements. We will work with TriMet to identify specific locations, but I think it’s safe to assume that 82nd and Foster is high on the list for shelters.

    Grant

  3. Just as a point of clarification – the Lents Neighborhood Association (board or general membership) has no official position on the lane configurations. What Nick C. has been advocating for so far is the inclusion of 4 lane options, other than no build, (among other improvements and strategies) in the mix – for the entire corridor, not just segments in the Lents Neighborhood. It’s a fair strategy that allows us to move ahead with confidence that folks who prefer 4 lanes have an option to advocate for.

    As a representative of the LTCURAC, my main focus has been ensuring that there are adequate lane widths for Streetcar, that the benefits and burdens of any changes to Foster are equitably distributed (specifically that the burdens aren’t all shifted East with all the benefit accruing west of 72nd) and that changes to the lane configuration don’t undo improvements/investments that the LTCURA has already made.

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