Darcella grew up in East Portland. She attended Alder Elementary School, in Reynolds School District. It’s a school with a Portland address, but it sits in what often seems to be a gray area between Portland and Gresham. She remembers a time when farmland quilted the area, a time before there were so many stretches of strip malls, when streets were quieter, less crowded, and TriMet service was less frequent.
Over time, Darcella, grew to depend on TriMet. First the bus, then a combination of bus and light rail, after the MAX Blue Line started making trips to Gresham back in 1986. “I don’t drive,” she said. “The bus is my lifeline. I go grocery shopping with it. There’s no other way to get around. Going to and from work – any kind of activity… It’s just imperative to have TriMet.”
She talked with TriMet at the Rosewood Initiative, a community center she describes as one of the area’s best. It occupies a converted retail space at the Village Square, an early 1960’s era strip mall at SE 162nd Stark. With floor to ceiling windows across the front of the building, winter sunlight streamed into the main room, which is painted in bright, coordinated color blocks. One of TriMet’s newest bus lines, Line 74-162nd Avenue, will soon have a stop steps from the front door.
Darcella doesn’t hide her excitement for the new line. She says it will bring additional time and convenience to her life. To get to and from work now, she first catches Line 20-Burnside/Stark going west toward Portland City Center. “That can take, from out here, anywhere from half an hour at least,” she said. Then she transfers to Line 72-Killingsworth/82nd and begins travelling north. “That’s probably another 20 minutes,” she added. “That includes wait time, so especially during the winter weather and the rain, which we have in Portland, it can be awhile.”
Line 74 will offer an alternative, a North-South route along 162nd Avenue from SE Powell to NE Airport Way. “Any time they add new lines, especially north and south, it would help for economic opportunities,” said Darcella. “There’s a lot of opportunity near Portland International Airport,” she added. “There’s hospitality, hotels, motels out there, housekeeping, front desk, maintenance, all kinds of things, the airport, they’re always hiring out there…. There’s packaging out there. There’s postal.”
Her assessment falls in lockstep with what the Rosewood Initiative’s Director of Transportation Equity describes as the importance of Line 74. Kem Marks is legally blind and transit-dependent. Although he lives just outside the Rosewood neighborhood, he’s a vocal advocate for service in East Portland. Line 74 won’t deliver everything he wants, at least not yet, but he says it’s a big step in the right direction. “It means that more people have freedom, freedom to go to more places at more times than they currently have,” said Marks.
He believes a new and more efficient connection to the region’s growing employment corridors is one of the key benefits of Line 74. “This is going to allow people access to jobs in the Columbia Corridor and to be able to make connections to other lines that may not be in the corridor, but the corridor is where a lot of family-wage jobs exist, and a lot of the people who live out here just can’t get there at the moment in a timely fashion.”
When it opens on March 5, Line 74 will offer service about every half hour, from approximately 7a.m. through 7:30 p.m., Monday – Friday. For Darcella, it will free up a little more time to do things she enjoys, but she hopes to see service expanded in the future. As ridership grows, TriMet will be able to look at that possibility.
Jenny Glass is the Executive Director of the Rosewood Initiative and advocated strongly for Line 74. “Really transportation is about connection and accessibility to all things,” said Glass. “It will improve the quality of life for everyone living in this community and their ability to access employment and childcare and other services, education, so this will really impact thousands of people in this community.”
“This bus 74,” summed up Darcella, “it’s just another gold star for TriMet – the way it wants to help people move and get to where they’ve gotta go in a timely and safe manner.”
In addition to Line 74, TriMet is adding new bus lines in Gresham and Washington County, as well as improving service in East Portland, Milwaukie and Troutdale. For more information, visit trimet.org/servicechanges.