Has the MAX become too accessible in downtown Portland? According to TriMet data, there may be a surplus of MAX stations in the city's inner limits—and its bogging down the transit system's efficiency.
In a media release, TriMet spokesperson Roberta Altstadt says the organization is seriously considering closing four MAX stations in downtown Portland: the Kings Hill/SW Salmon St Station, the Mall/SW 4th Ave Station, the Mall/SW 5th Ave Station and the Skidmore Fountain Station. According to TriMet's research, these four stations already have low ridership, and each of them are no more than two blocks away from another MAX stop. The proposed shutdowns are expected to cut travel time across downtown by 2 minutes.
Transit advocates are on board with the idea.
"We've been advocating for more efficient transit downtown, it's good to see there's a real interest," says Shawn Fleek, spokesperson for OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, a nonprofit that advocates for transit riders.
Since central Portland has an abundance of transit options (ie: bus routes, Biketown stations, pedicabs, bike lanes, and now, e-scooters), Fleek says, downsizing downtown stops is far less risky than, say, cutting stops from a remote bus route in deep East Portland, where the next stop may be eight blocks away.
"This is the right place to consider fewer stations," Fleek says.
The proposal is slated to go before the TriMet Board of Directors for a vote by September 2019. If it's approved, it will be the first time TriMet's decided to close a MAX station in the light rail's 40-year history.