Comments from John Miller on Trimet #39 Weekend Service

April 17th, 2007

8959 SW Boones Ferry Road / Portland, OREGON 97219 / 503-245-4960/ john@timehaven•us

Thank You, TRIMET, for the new #39 Route. Here we are 317 days after the June 4th "First Ride" of the new #39 route, and yet I think it's too early, less than 50 weekends to tell how well the weekend service is going. Here are some examples of why I believe this to be the case:

The TRIMET Trip Planner was seriously botched for the better part of Last summer before the transfer points were added. That was a lost opportunity that won't be regain till this Spring (Now). Likewise, my impression is that the DISPLAYs haven't been operating consistently.

Raz definitely has an effect on it. This was proved during the January snow days. #39 was completely jammed by students getting downtown on public transit.

We've hardly had a chance to build the ridership. Neighborhoods and businesses failed to mount a significant promotional campaign last summer. For health reasons, I wasn't able to sustain the same level of energy on promoting the route once we made it to the First Ride. I hereby publicly re-commit myself to working with Trimet, the College through the Collins View Association to refine this new line.

My nephew works for Spokane Transit and says he has to fight for the notion that it takes 2 years to establish a new route, and it continually bears itself out. Spokane has done some fairly innovating re-routing of their whole system in the last couple years, and ridership is up.

Many years ago, my best friend John worked for EWSC (now EWU) in Cheney just outside Spokane WA. EWSC had many resident "foreign" students. John begged Spokane Transit for service to get these students downtown. They would not. So he paid them to run a line on the condition that he got the fare box. It was a two year contract. The first year it was a break-even proposition. The second year it was a money maker. Spokane Transit didn't renew the contract, and the line has been running ever since.

Weekend rate is sub-performing, but its use still went UP. Dorothy Fay says that the bus had lots of people on it last Saturday, and it was nearly full when she rode it on Sunday!

Friday or Saturday NIGHT ridership has been very low. Canceling Saturday evening service would put the kibosh on our Saturday Night Out™ plans - where people get on the bus and go to any of the venues in Hillsdale. We want to ratchet that up to downtown and Multnomah Village this summer.

To be fair, we should

  1. Wait to see what changes the college makes to their shuttle service, and so on, before making the "final" assessment;
  2. Monitor the route continuously through the summer, including couple weeks after Labor Day, to see if the weekend ridership stays flat, or if it will steadily increase; and
  3. Allocate a bus with a counter on it all the time so we have better data, no offense to your statistician.

Thank You.