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Monday, September 10, 2012

TriMet Route Changes Cause Trouble For Woodlawn Businesses

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Mon, Sep 10, 2012 at 1:58 PM

TriMet's fare increase and bus route changes kicked in last week and while many riders might not have noticed the tweaks to 20 bus lines, the Woodlawn neighborhood says a change to the #8 bus has made their business triangle on NE Dekum a "nightmare."

The #8 used to go all the way out to Jubitz in North Portland, but now the end of the line is at Woodlawn Park, which is right next to the area's upstart strip of businesses that includes the Firehouse restaurant, Good Neighbor Pizza, and Woodlawn Coffee and Pastry. Now, neighbors and business owners say three buses at a time stack up next to the park, creating a choke point on NE Dekum and generating noise and air pollution as they idle, before circling the block around Firehouse to restart the route.

"It's quickly turning into a nightmare," says Firehouse owner Matthew Busetto, who met with a TriMet representative on Friday about the neighborhood issues for a meeting that he described as "ridiculous" and completely unhelpful. "We're in the height of our patio seating season and we counted 16 buses rolling by an hour." Busetto says the only notification he received of the change was when TriMet called to ask if 4-5 drivers a day could stop in to use his bathroom. He said sure, but has actually had 8-10 drivers stopping in daily, he says, adding that TriMet didn't tell him the route was dead-ending next to his restaurant. "I feel misled. To lay a pollution and safety issue on us without any notice is terrible."

Ethan Jewett runs a marketing business on NE Dekum and bikes daily up the street. It's a street that's wide enough to allow bikes and cars to share the road relatively comfortably, especially since the city has installed a new pedestrian island and marked crossing at Woodlawn Park. But the three buses parked "constantly" next to the park created a choke point that forces bikes out into car traffic, says Jewett: "They've done all these improvements to increase pedestrian and bike facilities, but now we're stacking buses up in them."

"With the neighbors now expressing concern, we realized that we didn't reach out to the community as thoroughly as we would have liked," writes TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch. "We will be reviewing the idling buses and other issues and will report back to the Woodlawn Neighborhood Association later this month."

Neighbors are hoping the public transit agency will agree to move the end of the #8 line a few blocks five blocks down to NE MLK, where many riders head anyway to connect to the #6 line.

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