MAX Blue Line

MAX Blue Line
MAX Type 4 cars crossing 185th.JPG
A westbound, two-car train crossing Southwest 185th Avenue, entering Hillsboro
Overview
TypeLight rail
SystemMAX Light Rail
StatusOperational
LocalePortland, Oregon, U.S.
TerminiHatfield Government Center in Hillsboro (west)
Cleveland Avenue in Gresham (east)
Stations48 (1 temporarily closed)[2]
Daily ridership55,370 (as of September 2018)[1]
WebsiteMAX Blue Line
Operation
OpenedSeptember 5, 1986 (1986-09-05)
OwnerTriMet
Operator(s)TriMet
CharacterAt-grade, elevated, and underground
Rolling stock
Technical
Line length33 mi (53 km)[a]
Number of tracks2
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Electrification750 V DC, overhead catenary
Maximum incline7.0%[4][5]
Route diagram

Hatfield Government Center
Parking
Hillsboro Central/SE 3rd TC
Tuality Hospital/SE 8th
Parking
Washington/SE 12th
Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport
Hillsboro Airport Parking
Hawthorn Farm
Orenco
Parking
Quatama
Parking
Willow Creek/SW 185th TC
Parking
Elmonica/SW 170th
Parking
Merlo Rd/SW 158th
Beaverton Creek
Parking
Millikan Way
Parking
Beaverton Central
Beaverton TC Terminus
WES Commuter Rail
Sunset TC
Parking
Washington Park
Goose Hollow/SW Jefferson
Kings Hill/SW Salmon (closed)
Providence Park
Stadium - The Noun Project.svg
 B  Loop NS  Line (SW 11th Ave)
 A  Loop NS  Line (SW 10th Ave)
Galleria/SW 10th
Portland Streetcar
Library/SW 9th
Portland Streetcar
Pioneer Square N
Portland Transit Mall
Pioneer Square S
Portland Transit Mall
to PSU to Milwaukie (SW 5th Ave)
Mall/SW 5th (closed)
Mall/SW 4th (closed)
Morrison/SW 3rd
Yamhill District
Oak/SW 1st
Skidmore Fountain
Old Town/Chinatown
to PSU
to Union Station
cont. to Milwaukie
Rose Quarter TC
Stadium - The Noun Project.svg
Convention Center
Portland Streetcar
 B  Loop (NE Grand Ave)
 A  Loop (NE 7th Ave)
NE 7th
Portland Streetcar
Lloyd Center/NE 11th
Hollywood/NE 42nd TC
NE 60th
NE 82nd
Gateway/NE 99th TC
Parking
to Clackamas to Airport
E 102nd
E 122nd
Parking
E 148th
E 162nd
E 172nd
E 181st
Parking
Rockwood/E 188th
Ruby Junction/E 197th
Civic
Gresham City Hall
Parking
Gresham Central TC
Parking
Cleveland
Parking

The MAX Blue Line is a light rail service in Portland, Oregon, United States, operated by TriMet as part of the MAX Light Rail system. The longest line in the network, it travels mainly east–west for approximately 33 miles (53 km) in the cities of Hillsboro, Beaverton, Portland, and Gresham, serving 48 stations between Hatfield Government Center and Cleveland Avenue. The line is the busiest of the five MAX lines, carrying an average 55,370 riders per day on weekdays in September 2018. It runs for 22​12 hours per day from Monday to Thursday, with headways of between 30 minutes off-peak and five minutes during rush hour. Service runs later in the evening on Fridays and Saturdays and ends earlier on Sundays.

The success of local freeway revolts in the early 1970s led to the reallocation of federal assistance funds from the proposed Mount Hood Freeway and Interstate 505 (I-505) projects to mass transit. Local governments approved the construction of a light rail line in Portland in 1978. Referred to as the Banfield light rail project during its planning and construction because of its proximity to the Banfield Freeway, and later, the Eastside MAX, construction of what is now the line's eastern half—between downtown Portland and Gresham—began in 1983. It opened on September 5, 1986, as the inaugural line of the MAX system.

Planning for the line's subsequent extension to the west side, known as the Westside MAX, began as early as 1979. This second segment, delayed by nearly a decade due to funding disagreements, had initially been slated to terminate on 185th Avenue, near the border between Hillsboro and Beaverton. Proponents of a longer line achieved a supplemental extension to downtown Hillsboro just before the line's groundbreaking in 1993. It opened in two phases following delays in tunnel construction; the first section up to Goose Hollow opened in 1997 and the entire extension began operating on September 12, 1998.

In 2000, the two distinct segments, already operating as a single through route between Gresham and Hillsboro, were further unified in passenger information as the Blue Line, after TriMet introduced a color coding scheme amid preparations for the opening of a second service: the Red Line to Portland International Airport. The Blue Line currently shares its route with the Red Line on the west side, between Beaverton Transit Center and Rose Quarter Transit Center. On the east side, it shares tracks with both the Red Line and the Green Line, between Rose Quarter Transit Center and Gateway/Northeast 99th Avenue Transit Center.

Eastside history[]

Early freeway proposals[]

In 1955, the Oregon State Highway Department laid out the freeway development plan for the Portland metropolitan area, proposing the construction of the Mount Hood Freeway and I-505, among others.[6] Led by Portland Mayor Neil Goldschmidt, whose campaign centered around freeway opposition,[7] citizen protests and two other factors led to the eventual cancellation of both projects. First, an environmental impact study (EIS) conducted in 1973 by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill determined that if built, the Mount Hood Freeway would only add more traffic to downtown Portland than the surface streets could handle.[8][7] Then, on February 4, 1974, U.S. district judge James M. Burns formally rejected the plan after finding that the corridor selection process failed to follow the appropriate procedures.[9][7] Amid mounting anti-freeway sentiment and further delays,[10]:18 the Portland City Council voted 4-to-1 to abandon the project in July 1974.[10]:20 Meanwhile, Northwest Portland residents fought in opposition to the I-505 spur route,[11] which the city council approved in 1971.[12] Following a suspect EIS, organizers from the Willamette Heights Neighborhood Association filed a class action in U.S. district court to halt the new freeway's construction; they were later joined by the Northwest District Association.[12][13] Several years of drawn-out litigation ensued, keeping the project on hiatus. In December 1978, the city council also withdrew its support for this proposal.[14]

Transitway planning and construction[]

Photograph showing a lattice of steel girders on the Glisan Street ramp of the 1912 Steel Bridge, in Portland as redecking work is under way
Redecking work on the Glisan Street ramp of the Steel Bridge in 1985

The passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act in 1973 allowed state governments for the first time to transfer federal funds from canceled freeway projects to other transportation options, including mass transit.[10]:20 In May 1973, Governor Tom McCall assembled a task force to determine potential alternative uses for the freeway funds. In April 1974, the task force released a preliminary draft listing light rail and buses as modes under consideration.[15] Around $185 million of federal assistance became available from the Mount Hood Freeway plan,[16][17] and another $15 million came from the I-505 project.[14] In 1976, the funds were allocated to other projects across the region, including a proposed transitway along the Banfield Corridor.[10]:29[18] Among five alternatives developed by the Highway Division, including the removal or extension of an existing high-occupancy vehicle lane,[19] a busway, as first suggested by the Columbia Region Association of Governments (CRAG) in 1975, had been favored for the Banfield Transitway.[20] Support for light rail on the corridor grew following the mode's inclusion as a sixth alternative in a 1977 EIS, though there was also opposition.[21][22]

Notable opposition came from the East County Concerned Citizens, representing places like Gresham. 5400 individuals signed a petition against any alternative involving light rail for costs and lack of presumed ridership. The group endorsed a plan to add an HOV lane and general lanes to Banfield instead. This opposition was notable, especially in comparison to the 340 individual comments received during a discussion period in 1977-1978.[23]

In September 1978, TriMet became the first jurisdiction to adopt a resolution supporting a combined light rail and highway expansion plan.[24] Remaining local jurisdictions each announced their support by November,[10]:30[25] and the State Transportation Commission approved the project in 1979.[26][27]

The Banfield light rail project received federal approval for construction in September 1980.[28]:36 Plans for a 27-station, 15.1-mile (24.3 km) line,[29][30][a] running from Southwest 11th Avenue in downtown Portland to just east of Cleveland Avenue in Gresham, were produced by Wilbur Smith Associates.[10]:31 The project estimated a budget of $225.5 million (equivalent to $538 million in 2018 dollars), of which $146.9 million went to light rail.[28]:8 Planners selected the Steel Bridge to carry the alignment over the Willamette River because it had been designed for the use of the city's former streetcars.[28]:26 In the east side, planners routed the line through a former Mount Hood Company interurban right-of-way, which occupied the median of East Burnside Street between 99th Avenue in Portland and Ruby Junction/197th Avenue, along which interurban service had ended in 1927.[31]:13[32] From Ruby Junction to Cleveland Avenue, planners assumed acquisition of a two-mile (3.2 km) section owned by the Portland Traction Company (PTC).[33] In August 1983, PTC agreed to surrender this segment as part of a longer abandonment up to Linnemann Junction,[34] a total of 4.3 miles (6.9 km) of right-of-way, which TriMet bought for $2.9 million in December of that year.[33] Anticipating 42,500 riders by 1990,[28]:11 TriMet purchased 26 light rail vehicles from Bombardier, with each car costing $750,000.[35] Bombardier started their production in 1982 and began delivering them in 1984.[36][37] Zimmer Gunsul Frasca designed the line's stations and overpasses, earning the firm a Progressive Architecture Award in 1984.[38]

The groundbreaking ceremony took place at Ruby Junction Yard, which would house a 98,000-square-foot (9,100 m2) maintenance and operations building, in March 1982.[39][40] Light rail construction, which progressed largely east to west, commenced the following year in April, on the two-mile (3.2 km) section between Ruby Junction and Cleveland Avenue.[41][42] The Ruby Junction facility opened as the system's first maintenance complex later that July.[43][44] By January 1984, work had reached East Burnside Street.[45] To minimize the cost of the Banfield Freeway segment,[39] track right-of-way excavation and freeway widening took place simultaneously.[46] Construction along this segment nonetheless slowed due to late material deliveries, particularly between Northeast Union and 39th avenues.[47] Track work in downtown Portland, the final section to be built, began in March 1984 and involved utility relocation, cobblestone paving, and tree planting across 36 downtown blocks.[48][49] The line's use of the Steel Bridge necessitated a $10 million rehabilitation that started the following June.[50] System testing followed the completion of electrification work.[49] This included the validation of the new light rail cars, which initially encountered electrical braking glitches, by putting each of them through 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of on-track testing.[51] On July 28, 1986, an eastbound car conducting a test run struck and killed a man who had trespassed onto the light rail tracks near Northeast 68th Avenue.[52] The Steel Bridge reopened in May 1986 after encountering a nine-month delay caused by structural problems and late deliveries. The bridge's owners—the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads—added to the delay by insisting on the replacement of the bridge's 64 lift cables, which TriMet claimed had not been in the original contract.[53][54]

Inauguration and later improvements[]

Photograph of Greshan Central Station showing a train with the station platform in the background
Gresham Central station in 1989, when the line section on which it is located was still single-track

On September 5, 1986, the $214 million (equivalent to $424 million in 2018 dollars) light rail line—now called Metropolitan Area Express (MAX)—opened for service.[21][55] Its new name was selected through a public contest held by The Oregonian and TriMet in June 1986.[56] TriMet designer Jeff Frane, who attributed inspiration to his son Alex, made the winning suggestion.[57] As the planning of an extension to the west side progressed, this line came to be referred to as the Eastside MAX.[21] Freeway transfer funds provided $178.3 million, or 83 percent of the total cost. The project was completed $10 million under budget.[21][38] An estimated 250,000 people attended the opening celebrations which spanned three days.[38] Downtown retailers, many of whom had opposed light rail, reported substantial increases in sales following the line's opening.[58] Nine new bus lines were created and six existing bus routes were modified as feeder routes.[59] MAX trains initially operated between 5:00 am and 1:30 am, with headways as short as seven minutes. Fares ranged $0.85–$1.30 to travel up to four paid zones.[60] Rides were free within Fareless Square from opening day until 2012.[61][62]

Originally, MAX trains did not automatically stop at every station, if no one was waiting to board when a train approached a given stop. MAX cars were equipped with stop-request bell cords (as are commonly found on American transit buses), which passengers needed to pull to signal the operator that they wanted to get off at the next stop. However, after finding that the times when a train could pass a station without needing to stop – because no one was getting on or off – were mainly limited to late-night hours and a small number of less-used stations, TriMet removed the bell cords in November 1994 and changed its operating practices to have trains stop at every station at all times.[63]

Photograph of a three-car train running along Southwest Yamhill Street with the Pioneer Place building in the background
An eastbound train seen running along Southwest Yamhill Street in downtown Portland in 1991

From 1986 to 1996, most of the line's easternmost two miles (3.2 km), beyond the Ruby Junction maintenance facility, operated as bidirectional single-track.[64]:319–320[65] Trains traveling in opposite directions were unable to pass in these sections, resulting in delays when service ran behind schedule. In early 1996, a second track was laid and a second platform was constructed at Gresham Central Transit Center,[66] making the section double-track and eliminating the only remaining single-track on the Eastside MAX.[67] The new track was brought into use in May after a three-month suspension of MAX service east of Rockwood/East 188th Avenue station;[66] it had been replaced by shuttle buses to allow the work to be carried out.[67][68]

Since the inauguration of MAX, TriMet has added four infill stations to the original alignment. In March 1990, the system opened the Mall stations—their names referring to the Portland Transit Mall—to coincide with the opening of Pioneer Place shopping mall in downtown Portland.[69] After operating for 30 years, these stations closed permanently in March 2020, owing to low ridership and to speed up train travel times across the city center.[70] In September 1990, the Oregon Convention Center opened to the public with MAX service from Convention Center station.[71] Work on the line's newest station, Civic Drive, started in 1997 as part of the Civic neighborhood development,[72] but was delayed for approximately twelve years due to a lack of funding. Construction resumed in May 2010 and the station opened on December 1, 2010.[73][74]

In 2015, TriMet began renovating fourteen of the system's oldest stations, between Hollywood/Northeast 42nd Avenue Transit Center and Cleveland Avenue. The project includes the installation of new windscreens, shelter roofs, digital information displays, lighting, and security cameras. Three stations—Gresham City Hall, East 122nd Avenue, and East 162nd Avenue—have been renovated as of February 2019.[75]

Westside extension[]

Early planning and delays[]

Photograph of a single railway line crossing a road
The former-OE railway crossing on 185th Avenue, seen in 1995 prior to the start of construction

On September 30, 1908, an interurban rail service ran for the first time between Portland and Hillsboro.[76]:31 It was operated by the Oregon Electric Railway (OE), which built a branch line from its Garden Home depot to Forest Grove.[77] The Great Depression and the rise of the automobile in the 1920s led to the closure of the Forest Grove Branch in 1932.[76]:29 The Burlington Northern Railroad (BN) later acquired much of this alignment and used it for freight service. It abandoned a segment between Orenco and central Hillsboro in 1977.[78]:3–32

In 1979, plans to restore passenger rail service from Portland to the west side emerged with a proposal to extend MAX to 185th Avenue, near the Hillsboro–Beaverton boundary.[79]:2[78]:2–1 In 1983, Metro (the successor to CRAG) selected light rail as the preferred mode alternative, and the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) released $1.3 million to begin a preliminary engineering study.[78]:2–2[80] That same year, newly appointed Hillsboro Mayor Shirley Huffman began lobbying for the line's extension to downtown Hillsboro. She traveled frequently to Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress and UMTA.[81] The project was later suspended by TriMet amid conflict with UMTA regarding the development of a financing plan and its precedence over engineering work.[80] By the time planning recommenced in January 1988,[82] significant changes in the Westside Corridor, including the conversion of 3,000 acres (1,214 ha) of vacant Washington County land into mixed-use urban areas, required a re-evaluation that was completed in May 1991.[78]:2–2

As planning continued on the route between Portland and 185th Avenue, alternative routes through Beaverton included alignments along the Sunset Highway (U.S. 26), the BN right-of-way, and the Tualatin Valley Highway (TV Highway). A consultant recommended the BN alternative to TriMet in December 1988,[83] and the agency's board ultimately selected that recommendation.[84][85] The terminus station would have been along the BN right-of-way near 185th Avenue and Baseline Road.[86][87] Meanwhile, the Portland City Council formed an advisory committee to determine whether the route through downtown should extend west from 11th Avenue on Southwest Morrison and Yamhill streets or run through the Portland Transit Mall on 5th and 6th avenues.[88] The locally preferred alternative ultimately adopted a continuation of MAX along Morrison and Yamhill streets.[89]

The efforts of Huffman and others regarding the proposed Hillsboro extension led to a supplemental study in April 1993, which evaluated options to extend the westside light rail project, among other mode alternatives,[78]:2–4 to the Washington County Fairplex or downtown Hillsboro.[78]:S–14[86] Alternative routes up to downtown Hillsboro included the abandoned BN segment from 185th Avenue to 10th Avenue, Baseline and Cornell roads, and TV Highway.[78]:2–4 In July of that year, TriMet approved an extension of the initial 11.5-mile (19 km) light rail line, 6.2 miles (10 km) farther west to downtown Hillsboro using the abandoned BN route.[90][4][a] This brought the project's new total distance to 17.7 miles (28.5 km) (some sources say 17.5 km).[30][a] At the time, the line was scheduled to open as far as 185th Avenue in September 1997,[91][87]:R2 and downtown Hillsboro by the end of 1998.[86]

Funding and construction[]

Photograph of a four-car train and a railway tunnel with a roadway to the right
The east end of the Robertson Tunnel in 2007

Funding for the westside extension proved difficult to obtain under the Reagan Administration, which sought to reduce federal expenditures by delaying existing light rail projects and declining to approve future planning.[10]:69 As members of their respective appropriations committees, U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield and U.S. Representative Les AuCoin secured preliminary engineering and environmental review grants in 1989 by withholding funds from the head of UMTA's office.[10]:69–70[92] In 1990, Congress adopted legislation requiring the federal government to cover a 75 percent share of transit projects approved within the fiscal year.[93] Voters subsequently rejected a measure to permit the use of local vehicle registration fees for public transit, which would have covered Oregon's 25 percent share, defeating it 52 percent to 48 percent.[94] With a year-end deadline approaching the 25 percent local-share stipulation, TriMet introduced a $125 million local bond measure in July 1990.[95] Portland area voters overwhelmingly approved the ballot measure, which earned 74 percent average approval the following November. This marked the region's first successful vote approving public transportation.[96][10]:70 The Federal Transit Administration (the new name for UMTA) completed the funding package in 1991, granting $515 million to build the line up to 185th Avenue.[91] It provided another $75 million in 1994 following the approval of the Hillsboro extension, which covered one-third of the segment's $224 million additional cost.[97][10]:70

Construction of the Westside MAX began in August 1993 with the excavation of the 21-foot-diameter (6.4 m) Robertson Tunnel.[98][87] Several alternative alignments through the West Hills were studied, including an all-surface option along the Sunset Highway, an option with a half-mile-long (0.8 km) "short tunnel", and an option with a 3-mile (4.8 km) "long tunnel".[99][100] TriMet chose the "long tunnel" in April 1991.[101] Frontier-Traylor, the project's general contractor,[102] used conventional drilling and blasting techniques to dig through the west end. On the east segment, a 278-foot (85 m) tunnel boring machine was used to drill for two miles.[21][10]:74 Highly fragmented rock initially made machine excavation difficult, delaying the project for nine months.[10]:74 The $166.9 million tunnel was completed in 1997.[103][104] It houses the 260-foot-deep (79 m) Washington Park station, currently the system's only underground station and the deepest transit station in North America.[105]

Photograph of a concrete arch bridge with a roadway running beneath
Main Street Bridge in Hillsboro, shown in 2018

Work along Oregon Highway 217 started in March 1994.[106] Initially planned to run alongside freight trains through Beaverton and Hillsboro, the alignment was replaced with light rail following TriMet's acquisition of the BN right-of-way in June.[107] The 600-foot-long (180 m) horseshoe tunnel below Sunset Highway was completed in July 1995 and all highway work ceased in December.[108] Track work commenced west of 185th Avenue around the time the Elmonica Yard opened in January 1996. It was built to accommodate some of the 39 Siemens cars TriMet procured.[109][110] The model SD660 low-floor cars, jointly developed by TriMet and Siemens,[111] became notable as the first low-floor light rail vehicles in North America.[112][113] The final rail spike was driven on Hillsboro's Main Street Bridge in October 1997.[104] System testing took place in June 1998.[114]

Opening[]

Owing to delays caused by tunneling work, the line's planned September 1997 opening up to 185th Avenue was postponed by one year.[115][116] On August 31, 1997, the Westside MAX opened its first section, a two-station extension west to the Civic Stadium and Kings Hill/SW Salmon Street,[117] in conjunction with the entry into service of the first low-floor cars.[10]:76 Grand opening celebrations for the entire $963.5 million (equivalent to $1.41 billion in 2018 dollars) line took place on September 12, 1998.[104] Ceremonies were held at various stations and speeches were delivered by local and national dignitaries, including Vice President Al Gore.[118] Twelve TriMet bus routes, which had operated between the west side and downtown Portland, were reduced to five, replaced by light rail.[119] The line immediately drew strong ridership, exceeding projections for 2005 less than two years after it opened.[120] In September 2000, TriMet adopted a color coding scheme to differentiate its trains operating between Hillsboro and Gresham from those that were going to serve the Airport MAX extension, assigning the colors blue and red, respectively.[121][122]:83 The line-identification system was implemented shortly before the Red Line's opening on September 10, 2001.[123]

Route[]

Photograph of a section of rail tracks next to a freeway exit ramp with busy a six-lane freeway to the left
A section of the light rail tracks next to the Banfield Freeway
Photograph of a train running next to a busy freeway on the right
A MAX train next to the Sunset Highway, east of Sunset Transit Center

The Blue Line operates along the Eastside and Westside MAX segments, which combined total 32.6 miles (52.5 km)[30][124][a] to 32.7 miles (52.6 km).[125][126][a] Its western terminus is Hatfield Government Center in Hillsboro, on the corner of West Main Street and Southwest Adams Avenue.[127] From there, the line heads east along the median of Southeast Washington Street and continues east on a former BN—former OE—right-of-way between Southeast 10th Avenue and Northwest 185th Avenue,[128][86] traveling mostly at-grade except at grade-separated crossings—notably, the Main Street Bridge and Cornelius Pass Road—until it reaches Beaverton Transit Center.[79]:11 It then turns north, running adjacent to Oregon Highway 217 to Sunset Transit Center. From there it continues eastwards along the north side of the Sunset Highway before entering the Robertson Tunnel for Washington Park station.[21] After leaving the tunnel, the line passes below the Vista Bridge and enters downtown Portland, continuing along Southwest Jefferson Street before turning north onto the median of Southwest 18th Avenue.[129]

Near Providence Park, the tracks diverge eastbound onto Southwest Yamhill Street and westbound onto Southwest Morrison Street,[130] crossing the Portland Transit Mall near the Pioneer Courthouse and Pioneer Courthouse Square.[131] The tracks reconnect on Southwest 1st Avenue and head north, traversing the Willamette River via the Steel Bridge into the Rose Quarter. The line runs along Holladay Street in the Rose Quarter and the Lloyd District, passing the Moda Center and the Oregon Convention Center.[132] It enters its grade-separated segment along the north bank of the Banfield Freeway at Sullivan's Gulch.[133] The line then travels over the Interstate 84 and Interstate 205 interchange towards Gateway/Northeast 99th Avenue Transit Center.[134] From Gateway Transit Center, tracks head south along the east side of I-205. A single-track junction south of Gateway Transit Center marks the start of the Airport MAX segment while a double junction south of Southeast Glisan Street splits into the I-205 MAX. The Blue Line turns east and enters the median of East Burnside Street at East 97th Avenue.[135] At Ruby Junction/East 197th Avenue station, the line leaves the street and heads southeastwards until it reaches Cleveland Avenue station, its last stop, near the corner of Northeast Cleveland Avenue and Northeast 8th Street in Gresham.[135]

The Blue Line shares much of its alignment with the Red Line. Between 2001 and 2003, they used the same tracks from the 11th Avenue loop tracks in downtown Portland to Gateway Transit Center, where Red Line trains diverge towards Portland International Airport.[136] Since 2003, they have shared the same route between Beaverton Transit Center and Gateway Transit Center.[137] The Green Line joined a part of this shared alignment in 2009, entering from the Portland Transit Mall just west of the Steel Bridge, diverging at Gateway Transit Center, and continuing south towards Clackamas.[138]

A geographic map of the MAX Blue Line relative to the rest of the network

Stations[]

Stations on the Blue Line
Hatfield Government Center station, the Blue Line's western terminus
The eastbound platform of Washington Park station, the system's only underground station
Civic Drive station, the newest station on the Blue Line, built in 2010
Cleveland Avenue station, the Blue Line's eastern terminus

The Blue Line serves 48 stations. The 27 stations built as part of the inaugural line between Gresham and downtown Portland opened on September 5, 1986.[28]:37 The Mall stations on Southwest 4th and 5th avenues were added in conjunction with the opening of Pioneer Place in March 1990,[139] followed by the Convention Center station and the Oregon Convention Center in September.[140] The Westside MAX opened in two stages due to delays in construction.[115] The first two stations, Civic Stadium—now Providence Park—and Kings Hill/Southwest Salmon Street opened on August 31, 1997.[141] The remaining 18 stations opened during the segment's inauguration on September 12, 1998.[104] The newest station is Civic Drive, which was opened on December 1, 2010.[74][142]

On July 24, 2019, TriMet announced the permanent closure of the Mall stations, as well as a one-year pilot closure of Kings Hill/Southwest Salmon Street station, in an effort to speed up travel times. The closures took effect on March 1, 2020.[2][70]

Transfers to the Yellow Line are available at the Pioneer Square and Mall stations and Rose Quarter Transit Center, while transfers to the Green Line (beyond the shared Eastside MAX alignment) and the Orange Line can be made at the Pioneer Square and Mall stations.[143] Additionally, the Blue Line provides connections to local and intercity bus services at various stops across the line, the Portland Streetcar at four stops in and near downtown Portland,[144] and a transfer to WES Commuter Rail, which runs from Beaverton to Wilsonville during the morning and evening commutes on weekdays, at Beaverton Transit Center.[145]

Key
Terminus
Eastbound travel only
Westbound travel only
Station Location Commenced Line transfers[143] Other connections and notes[143][146][b]
Hatfield Government Center Hillsboro 1998 Serves Washington County Courthouse, Hillsboro Civic Center
Hillsboro Central/Southeast 3rd Avenue Transit Center 1998 Intercity bus service YCTA[147]
Tuality Hospital/Southeast 8th Avenue 1998
Washington/Southeast 12th Avenue 1998
Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport 1998 Serves Washington County Fair Complex, Hillsboro Airport
Hawthorn Farm 1998
Orenco 1998
Quatama 1998
Willow Creek/Southwest 185th Avenue Transit Center 1998 Intercity bus service CC Rider
Serves Portland Community College Willow Creek Center
Elmonica/Southwest 170th Avenue Beaverton 1998 Elmonica maintenance facility
Merlo Road/Southwest 158th Avenue 1998
Beaverton Creek 1998
Millikan Way 1998
Beaverton Central 1998
Beaverton Transit Center 1998 Mainline rail interchange WES Commuter Rail
Sunset Transit Center 1998 Intercity bus service POINT, TCTD
Washington Park Portland 1998 Serves Oregon Zoo, Portland Children's Museum, World Forestry Center
Goose Hollow/Southwest Jefferson Street 1998
Kings Hill/Southwest Salmon Street 1997 Closed until March 1, 2021[2]
Providence Park 1997 Serves Providence Park
Library/Southwest 9th Avenue 1986 Tram interchange Portland Streetcar
Serves Central Library
Galleria/Southwest 10th Avenue 1986
Pioneer Square South 1986 Bus interchange Portland Transit Mall
Serves Pioneer Courthouse, Pioneer Courthouse Square
Pioneer Square North 1986
Yamhill District 1986
Morrison/Southwest 3rd Avenue 1986
Oak Street/Southwest 1st Avenue 1986
Skidmore Fountain 1986
Old Town/Chinatown 1986
Rose Quarter Transit Center 1986 Intercity bus service C-Tran
Serves Rose Quarter
Convention Center 1990 Tram interchange Portland Streetcar
Serves Oregon Convention Center
Northeast 7th Avenue 1986 Tram interchange Portland Streetcar
Lloyd Center/Northeast 11th Avenue 1986
Hollywood/Northeast 42nd Avenue Transit Center 1986
Northeast 60th Avenue 1986
Northeast 82nd Avenue 1986
Gateway/Northeast 99th Avenue Transit Center 1986 Intercity bus service Columbia Area Transit[148]
East 102nd Avenue 1986
East 122nd Avenue 1986
East 148th Avenue 1986
East 162nd Avenue 1986
East 172nd Avenue Gresham 1986
East 181st Avenue 1986
Rockwood/East 188th Avenue 1986
Ruby Junction/East 197th Avenue 1986 Ruby Junction maintenance facility
Civic Drive 2010
Gresham City Hall 1986 Serves Gresham City Hall
Gresham Central Transit Center 1986 Intercity bus service Sandy Area Metro
Cleveland Avenue 1986

Transit-oriented development[]

In an Institute for Transportation and Development Policy study conducted in September 2013, the Blue Line was cred with generating $6.6 billion in transit-oriented development investment.[149]

Service[]

A Blue Line train on the Steel Bridge in 2009

From Monday to Thursday, the Blue Line runs for 22​12 hours per day. The first train goes westbound from Elmonica/Southwest 170th Avenue station at 3:31 am and the last trip goes eastbound from Rose Quarter Transit Center to Ruby Junction/East 197th Avenue station at 1:29 am the following day. Additional late-night trips are provided on Fridays, with the last trip going eastbound from Hatfield Government Center station to Elmonica/Southwest 170th Avenue station at 2:01 am. Except for additional late-night trips on Saturdays, weekend service runs on a slightly reduced schedule. The first trains run westbound from Ruby Junction/East 197th Avenue station at 3:35 am and the last trains run eastbound from Hatfield Government Center station at 1:51 am and Rose Quarter Transit Center at 1:33 am, respectively. Select early morning trains operate as through services of the Red Line and the Yellow Line. End-to-end travel time is approximately 105 minutes.[150] TriMet designates the Blue Line as a "Frequent Service" route along with the rest of the light rail system, ensuring service runs on a 15-minute headway for most of each day.[151] Blue Line trains run most frequently during weekday rush hours, operating on headways as short as five minutes. During the early mornings and late evenings, headways increase to 30 minutes.[150]

Ridership[]

During the Eastside MAX's construction, the line was projected to carry 12,000 riders per day. It averaged around 22,000 during its first four days of regular operation and 18,000 by December 1986.[58][152] Two years after the opening of the Westside MAX, the system had been recording over 71,000 daily riders, a figure that was not anticipated until 2005.[153] To relieve overcrowding, TriMet extended the Red Line further west to Beaverton Transit Center on August 31, 2003.[137] From 2004 to 2007, TriMet recorded 18 percent and 27 percent increases in utilization between Hatfield Government Center station and Beaverton Transit Center during morning and evening rush hours, respectively, prompting the agency to add three Red Line trains running up to Hatfield Government Center on March 2, 2008.[154] In the first three months of 2017, the Blue Line recorded an average 55,233 rides per weekday, a drop of 2.9 percent from the same period in 2016.[155] TriMet attributes the drop to lower-income riders being forced out of the inner city by rising housing prices.[156] The Blue Line is currently the busiest line in the MAX system, carrying 18.9 million passengers in 2015.[21] It averaged 55,370 riders on weekdays in September 2018,[1] up from 55,330 for the same month in 2017.[157]

Future plans[]

In February 2006, local government officials proposed an extension of the Westside MAX from its Hatfield Government Center terminus to Forest Grove. City leaders approached a former TriMet engineer to conduct a feasibility study and to develop a plan to get the project included on Metro's Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation list of priority projects.[158] The six-month study, completed in October, estimated the line would cost about $200 million to build. The study identified a state-owned right-of-way between Southwest Adams Avenue in Hillsboro and Douglas Street in Forest Grove, formerly occupied by OE but whose tracks' operating rights are currently owned by the Portland and Western Railroad, as the best option for the line.[159] Metro proposes a high-capacity transit extension to Forest Grove as part of its 2018 Regional Transportation Plan for 2040, but does not specify the type of high-capacity transit, which could be either a bus or a rail option.[160]

Notes[]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Although several sources provide more precise figures, TriMet itself almost always gives only rounded figures for the lengths of the distinct segments of the Blue Line, of 15 miles (24 km) (Banfield/Eastside MAX), 12 miles (19 km) (Westside MAX), 6 miles (9.7 km) (Westside MAX Hillsboro Extension), and a total of 33 miles (53 km), with no tenths digit. At least one TriMet-issued news release referred to the Blue Line's length as "nearly 33 miles".[3]
  2. ^ This list of service connections excludes TriMet bus connections. For a complete list that includes all transfers, see: List of MAX Light Rail stations.

References[]

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