TriMet to make MAX service more efficient with closure of three stations in Downtown Portland in March 2020

by

TriMet Board of Directors approves ordinances to permanently close Mall/SW 4th Ave and Mall/SW 5th Ave stations, close Kings Hill/SW Salmon St for a one-year pilot

TriMet’s Board of Directors voted today, Wednesday, July 24, 2019, to make the MAX Blue and Red lines more efficient by consolidating stations in Downtown Portland.

Mall/SW 5th Ave Station will close March 1, 2020

The Board approved an ordinance closing the Mall/SW 4th Ave and Mall/SW 5th Ave stations permanently on March 1, 2020. The Board approved a pilot closure of the Kings Hill/SW Salmon St Station for one year, also beginning March 1, 2020, after which time TriMet will re-evaluate if the station should be removed permanently. The closure of a fourth station, the Skidmore Fountain Station, which had been previously discussed, will be re-evaluated in 2022 to determine if weekday ridership increases and proposed development in the area occurs. 

Efficient and equitable transit service

TriMet’s consolidation of MAX stations in Downtown Portland is an important part of our efforts to speed up transit and provide service that is efficient and equitable.

It takes MAX Blue and Red Line trains 22 minutes to travel the 3 miles between Goose Hollow/SW Jefferson St and Lloyd Center/NE 11th Ave stations. In the neighboring segments, it takes trains half that time to go 5 miles.

Closing the Kings Hill, Mall/SW 5th and Mall/SW 4th stations will cut that travel time by about 11 percent. For riders, that 3 minutes saved a day and 13 hours a year .

Not only will trips be more efficient for riders who go in and out of Downtown Portland, it will give the some 10,000 riders who travel through Downtown each day, half a day back each year to spend with family, conducting personal business or having fun.

For those reliant on transit, who have been pushed out of close-in neighborhoods, and ride to employment centers in suburban corridors, such as Washington County, that time adds up to financial savings, spent on such items as daycare, and loss of productivity.

“At TriMet, we’ve weighed access, equity and convenience as we look to improve the speed and performance of our system. With more people coming to our region by the 100,000s in the coming decades, transit must be faster and more efficient in moving people where they need to go. Today’s action is an important step toward that.”

Doug Kelsey, TriMet General Manager

Station spacing to speed up trains

In developing the consolidation proposal, TriMet staff looked at stations in Downtown Portland that were extremely close together and had ridership lower than the nearby alternatives. The four stations that had been identified for closure were all just about two train lengths from other, more consistently used stations.

During their research, staff conducted an informal survey of other rail systems in North America. They found that no other city has stations that close together, with most cities spacing stations at least a half-mile apart to balance speed and access. Also, TriMet’s bus system, with more than 6,600 stops, has just less than seven percent of stops within 500 feet of an alternative.

Learn more about TriMet’s station consolidation analysis.

Community feedback helped shape station consolidation

TriMet conducted 10 months of outreach and engagement to get feedback from neighbors, community members and customers. We heard little opposition about closing the Mall/SW 5th and Mall/SW 4th stations. Community groups and neighboring businesses raised concerns about closing the Kings Hill and Skidmore Fountain stations. Riders, in online and on-board surveys, mostly supported the closures, with nearly seven in 10 saying they want a faster trip.

“We thank everyone who took the time to give us feedback on the consolidation proposal. We value the role transit plays in our community and the passion people here have for it.”

Doug Kelsey, TriMet General Manager

Station consolidation costs

TriMet estimates that the station closures will lead to some $460,000 in signal system upgrades to move trains more efficiently through Downtown. Up to $750,000 in costs are also expected to remove the stations and convert the areas for other use. Some of those costs will likely be offset as more people ride the improved service and operational/maintenance costs related to the stations are eliminated.

Making transit better

Consolidating the stations on the MAX Blue and Red lines is just one of the ways TriMet is speeding up transit and making it an attractive alternative to driving alone. We continue to make major improvements, kicked off in 2016, to rejuvenate the MAX system including the Lloyd MAX Improvements in August to upgrade switches and sections of track. We’ve made improvements to the overhead wire system and added anchors to rail ties to reduce heat-related delays on the MAX Blue, Red and Yellow lines.

TriMet is working with Metro and cities and counties across the region on strategic efforts to move buses around congestion. We continue our largest expansion of bus service in history, a multi-year effort to add buses at more times, serve new areas and decrease the wait times.

Learn about other ways TriMet is making transit better.

MAX Blue Line history

The MAX Blue Line, originally the Eastside Light Rail Project, was built between March 1982 and August 1986. It was just the third light rail system, the second on the west coast, in the U.S. The MAX Blue Line opened on Sept. 5, 1986 as a 15-mile light rail line with 30 stations between Downtown Portland and Gresham.

Today, the MAX Light Rail System stretches 60 miles with 97 stations in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties.

Learn more about the history of TriMet.