Metro staff planners are expected to recommend changes to bus service in downtown Portland next month after weighing feedback from riders and other groups on its initial proposal.

The bus service began two years ago to redesign its service on the Portland peninsula. Riders have called for better service, including increased hours of operation, for the peninsula, but many have criticized some of the proposed route changes.

During public hearings over the winter, “we heard quite a few negative things about it,” said Denise Beck, Metro spokeswoman.

Any bus service changes, which would have to be approved by Metro’s board, wouldn’t take effect until late 2022, she said, because the service would need to weigh the financial impact and build bus shelters at some stops.

Metro has proposed eliminating two routes, extending a few others and establishing a “circulator route” that would provide service on the peninsula. Beck said riders had originally told Metro they wanted any circulator route to run in both directions and provide service later at night.

But at public hearings, some riders didn’t like the circulator route that Metro proposed because it’s focused on roads along the edge of the peninsula, such as the Fore River Parkway, Commercial Street and Marginal Way, rather than through neighborhoods. That means riders would need to walk greater distances to bus stops, which can be a problem, particularly in the winter, Beck said.

Gwynn Williams, the head of the West End Neighborhood Association, said the proposed route would result in buses that “zoom around the periphery of the West End and eliminate most of the current stops in the West End.”

Two stops that would be lost serve elderly housing projects on State Street and Pine Street, and it might be difficult for elderly riders to get to the new stops, she said.

Metro users, she said, “wanted longer hours, faster, more frequent bidirectional service and this plan apparently supplies these things – in lieu of actually going where people live.”

Any changes would represent a fundamental alteration of Metro’s service, Beck said, so there will likely be additional public hearings on staff recommendations before a proposal is taken to the board.


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