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Should TriMet merge bus lines with light rail?

TriMet will hold a series of public meetings this summer regarding the proposed changes to bus service upon the completion of the Portland-Milwaukie light-rail project in 2015.

Minimizing “duplicative” service of Southeast McLoughlin Boulevard’s bus lines 31, 32, 33 and 99 has been a major goal of this planning effort.

Although the transit agency is proposing terminating Line 33 in Milwaukie and requiring a transfer to light rail, riders from Oregon City didn’t want to always have to transfer in Milwaukie on their way to Portland. Proposed rerouting of Line 99’s express service from Clackamas Community College and downtown Oregon City would provide service to the Milwaukie station and the park-and-ride lot on Main Street north of downtown.

“We think that this solves or helps alleviate some of the issues that we heard from people wanting the one-seat ride, maybe not wanting to transfer and the parking issues in downtown Milwaukie,” said Kerry Ayres-Palanuk of TriMet.

Line 99 would continue to Portland across the new Sellwood Bridge, which may not be completed by September next year in time for light rail. Other changes being considered include merging Linwood’s Line 28 with River Road’s Line 34 to provide service to Johnson Creek Boulevard and the Tacoma Street station, continuing on the existing route through Gladstone to Holcomb Boulevard in Oregon City. Increasing the frequency of these lines would have buses arrive every 35 minutes on weekdays instead of every 70 minutes.

Milwaukie Councilor Dave Hedges complained to TriMet officials last month that he was paying an extra $36 a year in taxes for no shorter walk to get to light rail.

“What I would say is that we are trying to serve as many things as possible,” Ayres-Palanuk responded, saying she appreciated such feedback.

A draft copy of the proposed bus service plan is considered “very preliminary” by TriMet officials. The process being followed to develop TriMet’s Southeast Service Enhancement Plan anticipates public comments on this initial draft plan over the summer with revisions this fall. TriMet expects to finalize the plan in the winter of 2015.

Talk back on bus service

Four open houses will provide the community an opportunity to discuss bus-service planning related to Portland-Milwaukie light rail with TriMet staff. At each open house, a brief presentation will take place 10 minutes after start time.

1. Monday, July 21

6 to 7:30 p.m., St. John The Evangelist Episcopal Church, 2036 S.E. Jefferson St., Milwaukie

2. Tuesday, July 22

6 to 7:30 p.m., Pioneer Community Center, 615 5th St., Oregon City

3. Wednesday, July 23

5 to 6:30 p.m., Sacred Heart Villa, 3925 S.E. Milwaukie Ave., Portland

4. Thursday, July 24

5 to 6:30 p.m., CH2M Hill Lunch Room, fifth floor, 2020 S.W. Fourth Ave., Portland