Why all bus stops are not created equal (and how we make improvements)

Ten bus stops were recently nominated by riders as the worst of the worst in The Oregonian’s #MyTerribleBusStop poll. So… Out of the 6,660 bus stops in the TriMet service area, why are these such stinkers? Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at why some stops get shelters and benches, while others are just a lonely pole in a ditch.

Sidewalks and crosswalks

Judging by what you’ve told us, riders’ biggest concern is access—specifically, how easy it is to get to and from the stop. It’s no fun crossing a busy street to wait for the bus in a drainage ditch… and it’s not safe, either.

It’s important to note that the majority of our stops are located on land that belongs to someone else, whether it’s a city sidewalk, a county right-of-way, a state-owned highway or private property.

TriMet worked closely with the City of Portland on the Division Streetscape project.
We worked closely with the City of Portland on the Division Streetscape project. We depend on our city, county, state and property owner partners when it comes to infrastructure such as sidewalks and crosswalks.

Of course, it’s ideal to put a stop in where there’s already an existing sidewalk and crosswalk—but that’s not always possible. Not all of the neighborhoods we serve have them, and often there is limited space to work with in the location where a stop is needed. In some cases, it comes down to either having a bare-bones stop with no amenities, or not having a stop at all.

That’s why we need a lot of help from our city, county and state partners and private property owners to make these kinds of improvements.

A few years ago, we launched the Pedestrian Network Analysis Project, which helps us focus on and locate the areas where access improvements have the greatest need and provide the biggest opportunities. The analysis was an effort to help our city, county, state and property owner partners identify where to invest in sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting, seating and other upgrades that can make a big difference for transit riders.

We also work to actively build relationships with private property owners and developers to make sure that transit access is not an afterthought when planning new developments.

In front of the Hillsboro WinCo Foods on Hwy 8, in place of a drainage ditch along the roadway, now a wide sidewalk with a bus shelter greets riders because of a partnership between Oregon Department Of Transportation, Washington County and TriMet.
TriMet worked with developers when the Fred Meyer block on West Burnside was transformed. Where riders previously experienced a tight sidewalk and tight shelter, now they have a wide sidewalk with a covered bus stop bench designed into the side of the building.

Gimme shelter
Many neighborhood stops like this one at SE 28th and Bybee Blvd do not have space for amenities.
Many neighborhood stops like this one at SE 28th and Bybee Blvd do not have space for stop amenities like shelters and benches.

When we’re deciding which bus stops get shelters and other amenities, we have to take ridership into account—Shelters are considered only at stops with at an average of at least 50 weekday boarding rides. With limited resources available for bus stop improvements, this helps make sure we’re investing in the places that will benefit the most riders.

In some cases, though, even highly used stops don’t get a shelter. For example, on land connected to private property or parking lots (as shown in the example at right), sometimes a shelter just won’t fit.

What’s with all the trash?

Sometimes trash can accumulate at bus stops, and we appreciate riders letting us know when a special clean-up is needed. Plus, some litterbugs like to use our garbage cans as their household dumpster, so it can be tough to keep these stops clean 100% of the time.

Thankfully, the individuals, businesses and community organizations that volunteer through our Adopt-a-Stop program help us keep things tidy. (Thank you!) Together, we can make bus stops better, so if you ever spot an issue at your stop—let us know.

Making bus stops better

In the last two years, we’ve upgraded more than 370 stops, with an additional 100 projects being planned or under way right now. In recent months we’ve partnered with New Seasons Market to provide a stop next to their newest store, equipped with awnings and seating. We worked with Go Lloyd to install new digital screens in the Lloyd District, and with the help of KNOVA Learning Center, we were able to install two new shelters at Stark & 182nd Avenue.

Our bus stops team is always working to improve the safety, comfort and accessibility of our stops—we just need a lot of help from our city, county and state partners, private property owners and you.

Jessica Ridgway

Jessica Ridgway

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Coordinator. I develop content for our website and social media channels. I'm a daily MAX rider and an adopted Oregonian.

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