Buses: you know, they’re like Lyfts, but bigger and with even more strangers. And Portland is about to get some even bigger buses than we’ve ever had before, thanks to a $87.4 million grant from the US Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.
The grant will help fund a TriMet project that will connect downtown Portland with Gresham via bus, starting at NW Irving and 5th and ending at the Cleveland Park & Ride (and vice-versa). The new route, which will mostly run on a 15-mile stretch of SE Division, will replace the Line 2, one of TriMet’s most heavily-used bus routes.
Over 10,000 people ride the Line 2 every day, which can result in overcrowding—and the particular sadness and frustration that comes with watching an already-full bus pass by your stop altogether.
Which brings us to what makes this project—officially dubbed the Division Transit Project—so novel: it will be Portland’s first foray this millenium into articulated buses, or buses that can pivot and bend as they make a turn, allowing them to be larger than your typical Portland bus. TriMet first introduced articulated buses in the 1980s, but they haven't been in use since the 1990s.
The new buses will include three doors (that’s one more door than normal TriMet buses!) and be roomy enough to accommodate 60 percent more riders.
The project is estimated to cost $175 million altogether, with additional funding coming from TriMet and regional sources. In addition to the new, big-ass buses, the Division Transit Project will also include roomier, weather-protected bus stops in high-demand areas, and traffic signals that prioritize buses over cars.
According to TriMet’s timeline, Portlanders will be able to board these new caterpillar-esque buses in 2022. If you want to get an idea of what they’re like before then, just visit Seattle or Vancouver, Washington, which already use them as part of their transit systems.