TriMet may drop service for Bus Line 17 at the north end of its current route at Northeast Broadway Street due to low ridership.
Currently, Line 17 runs 136th Avenue and Holgate Street to 24th Avenue and Dekum Street. The potential route change would affect Concordia residents, eliminating the Concordia portion of the route entirely, and is part of the Draft Service Concept of TriMet’s “Forward Together” initiative, which aims to adapt to changes in ridership brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic by making a series of updates to TriMet bus routes in the near future.
TriMet gathered input from the Portland community in the spring of 2022 around the Draft Service Concept, as well as recently via a now-closed online survey.
Ostensibly, any changes made to TriMet bus service would have the aim of “focusing on ridership and improving connections to destinations for people with low and limited incomes.” Among the questions CNews wanted to ask TriMet is how this change will affect low-income riders who commute to higher-income neighborhoods for work. However, TriMet did not respond to repeated requests for interviews prior to the CNews deadline.
Additionally, the 17 line is currently the only direct route from the Concordia Neighborhood, which will soon be home to a University of Oregon campus, to Downtown Portland. Residents and students who rely on this line would need to use an alternate, indirect, and more time-consuming route. TriMet’s website advises that riders would be able to take alternative routes via Line 8 on Northeast 15th Avenue, Line 70 on Northeast 33rd Avenue, and Line 77 on Northeast Broadway Street.
Despite concerns, TriMet says the possible changes would “bring bus service to 50,000 more people, weekend service to 100,000 more, and significant increases to frequent buses service to connect people and jobs” in the Portland Metro area.
The possible changes would have some upside for riders, including frequency of bus service along the portion of the route that runs along Holgate Street. Service, which recently increased to every 30 minutes in September, would further increase in frequency to every 20 minutes under the current iteration of the Draft Service Concept.
No decisions have been yet made regarding the Draft Service Concept. The Draft Service Concept committee will present the findings of its survey and community input, as well as potential updates to the Draft Service Concept, to the TriMet Board of Directors at a meeting on Dec. 14. Any approved changes would go into effect no sooner than September of 2023.
TriMet also says that “the full adoption of Forward Together is dependent on our recovery from our ongoing operator shortage.”
While the community feedback survey specific to the Draft Service Concept, and thus the Line 17 change, is currently closed, comments, questions, and suggestions about TriMet operations can be submitted at support.trimet.org.
Shawn Mihalik is a novelist, photographer, martial artist, and the Concordia Neighborhood Association’s media team lead.