$1 million for bike park and ride

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Thursday, March 12, 2009
By Yokota Fritz


The Portland, Oregon regional TriMet transit agency announced they will spend $1 million in Federal ARRA (stimulus) funds to expand and improve bike parking facilities throughout the Portland transit system. That $1 million will create 250 new bike parking spots at two stations and upgrade another 100 bike lockers at another station.

"More riders are using bikes to get to transit, and with limited options for bringing bikes on board, having more secure bike parking facilities helps to make the bike/transit connection work," said TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen.

Caltrain in the San Francisco Bay Area, in the meantime, will receive $200,000 in ARRA funds to add 8 additional bike spots on each of 32 bike cars. With at least 4 trips for each bike car during the work day, that's a capacity for over 1,000 more bicycles every day, and the work will be complete within the next 60 days.

Caltrain has provided four times the capacity of TriMet's bike parking at one fourth the cost and in less time.

Accommodating bikes on board transit is a win for transit agencies that serve suburban populations. Encouraging bikes on transit expands the pool of potential transit users significantly, probably more than any other accomodation you can make for the price.

See also Why Transit Needs Bikes.

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I just want to say that I don't think the TriMet and Caltrain projects are comparable. I'm guessing that Caltrain is probably going to take out a set of seats (or doing something else simple if the total cost is $200K) vs TriMet is actually going to be building brand new things (or at least purchasing them in the case of the lockers). Also, the Caltrain project will not accommodate 1000 bikes at one time (and bike capacity might be fine during off-peak periods), but the TriMet project will accomodate the 350 at one time.

Also, providing on-vehicle facilities can be better, especially for those wishing to bike at both ends, but many transit systems can not easily scale up. Specifically, due to platform length limitations, TriMet is limited to two cars per MAX or WES train.
 
"Caltrain has provided four times the capacity of TriMet's bike parking at one fourth the cost and in less time."

Caltrain hasn't provided anything... yet. Remain vigilant.
 
Jason, you make good points, especially about modifying existing infrastructure vs building brand new, but that's kind of my point: you can do a lot by just rearranging things.

Yes, seats are being removed, but those are just dead space anyway. There's apparently some sort of fiction going around that fewer seats = less passenger room, when the opposite is actually true.

"350 at one time" is right -- and that's all you'll get. Right now Caltrain transports 2,400 bikes each day every week day.

Caltrain also has the facility problems -- they looked at going to six cars consists, but many platforms can only handle 5 cars, so right now they're pushing for electrification so that the trains can run more frequently.

BART is already at capacity at a couple of stations along their line, and there's no room for platform expansion or more frequent trains. BART is ripping out seats to expand passenger capacity, but for bike capacity they're expanding bike parking like TriMet. BART's a little different in that they have monstrous park-and-rides in the suburbs and reasonable transit connections in San Francisco, so bikes on board isn't a critical issue.

I've only played on TriMet (the LRT and a couple of buses, no bike and only on a weekend and late night) so I don't know what the real world issues are for Portland's system. Is TriMet LRT mostly 'local' traffic in Portland, or is there a lot of longer distance traffic to/from Hillsboro, Beaverton and Gresham? I see the TriMet trains run more frequently than Caltrain.


Murph: Well yeah, it's still mostly vaporware.
 
fewer seats = less passenger room, when the opposite is actually true

Well, if the area is used for people to stand, it may mean more room*. But if the area is getting used by bikes, it does seem to reduce room for passengers.

Overall, I'm assuming that the extra Caltrain bike capacity is only needed during peak periods, and would only get used a few trips a day, not the full 1000 times it could be.

As for MAX (TriMet's light rail system), it is a much more local system than Caltrain is in Portland (though in Beaverton/Hillsboro and part of eastern Portland is fast with fewer stops). The real problem is that it runs on-street in Downtown Portland, which means that trains can only be two cars long and limits throughput/speed.

*TriMet actually has taken out some of the seats on some old buses, but has said that WMATA (in DC) or some other agency supposedly did a study showing that it doesn't increase passenger capacity on trains.
 
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