The Mercury first reported in September that bus route changes last year were having an awful—and awfully smelly—effect on air quality in the increasingly thriving Woodlawn business district: Because of a decision to end Line 8 at Woodlawn Park instead of the Jubitz truck stop, buses waiting to go back on the return route were left idling in the area, making noise and spilling exhaust in front of popular new eateries.
TriMet promised some changes when we wrote about it again in November—after the union representing transit operators spoke up alongside neighbors. Their big beef? Drivers, no longer parking at a truck stop, now had nowhere to pee—and the few businesses that agreed to give access to their loos were surprised by how many drivers took them up on the offer.
Finally, this afternoon, after starting in changes earlier this year, spokeswoman Roberta Alstadt sends word that a permanent fix is in place:
Beginning on Sunday, June 1, TriMet buses will no longer be laying over on NE Dekum Street. Line 8 buses had been stopping at NE Dekum/Durham since we made changes to the route back in September 2012.
TriMet has been working with residents, businesses and the Woodlawn Neighborhood Association to lessen the impact of those changes. In March we were able to move the layover location for 60 percent of the buses. The layover for the remaining 40 percent of the buses will move to NE Winchell Street. After the move, NE Dekum Street will continue to have bus service with both Line 8 and 75 but will contain no layover locations.
That's a big change from the kinds of complaints Sarah Mirk was hearing back when this first flared:
"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. I feel misled. To lay a pollution and safety issue on us without any notice is terrible."
Fareless Square is still dead. Ticket prices are up. But this is, at least, something.