Arriving Soon: the Division Transit Project

Jan 28, 2020

Adding new transit service often means dealing with trade-offs.

Buses are flexible, affordable and convenient, but they can only hold so many people and at times they travel slower than we’d prefer.

Light rail is faster and can carry a lot of people, but it only works in certain areas and building a new line costs more and takes longer than adding new bus service. 

But what if you combined the best parts of bus service with light rail? That’s essentially what we’re doing with Division Transit Project, which officially kicked off last week in SE Portland. 

Here’s an introduction to this exciting project.

How will the Division Transit Project service operate?

The route of the Division Transit Project will closely mirror that of the current Line 2 bus service, traveling from Gresham to the Willamette River along Division Street, and then along 5th/6th avenues to Union Station in Downtown Portland. The project will use Tilikum Crossing and the transit-only route between SE 8th and SW Naito.

Extra-long, articulated buses will run every 12 minutes — more frequently during peak commuting hours.

Instead of bus stops, the Division Transit Project will have stations, many with amenities like shelters and arrival screens. Especially on the eastside, they’ll feel more like a MAX or Streetcar station than a typical bus stop.

Where Line 2 has stops every two to three blocks, regardless of demand, the Division Transit Project will have stations every four to nine blocks, and these stations will be located where demand is greatest.

The Division Transit Project will have something called “transit signal priority.” That means the traffic signals will let buses get a “jump” on cars, reducing delays at key  intersections. 

 How will it work for riders?

Unlike our regular bus service, where you board through the front door, riders can enter through any of the articulated bus’s three doors. Inside each door will be Hop reader; paying for your ride will be similar to paying on Portland Streetcar.

Multiple-door exiting and boarding should cut down on the amount of time a bus spends at each stop. Bikes will be brought on board, instead of placed in a bike rack on the front of the bus.

What will the result be of all these differences?

You’ll get where you’re going faster! We expect travel times with Division Transit Project will be up to 20% faster than the current Line 2. 

What buses will be used with the Division Transit Project?

We’re purchasing 60-foot long articulated buses (nicknamed “artics”) from Nova Bus. The seating setup hasn’t been finalized, but they should comfortably carry about 60% more people than our current 40-foot buses.

Despite being 20-feet longer than our “regular” buses, these artics are actually more nimble. Their turning radius is shorter, since they’re the same width and have a narrower wheelbase — a benefit of having three sets of wheels. They’ll have no problems with navigating Division or Downtown Portland.

Does this type of service exist in other cities?

Yep, and it’s effective at moving larger numbers of people quickly. Seattle, Eugene and Los Angeles all have variations on what we’re building for the Division Transit Project. Even closer to home, C-TRAN’s The Vine is similar.

What will happen to Line 2?

Division Transit Project service will replace Line 2. But there is excellent news associated with this — the buses, operators and budget that is dedicated to Line 2 now will not go away. Instead, they’ll be used on other lines that intersect with, or run near, Line 2. Riders using buses in Gresham and SE Portland will benefit from an overall boost in service

What will this all look like?

Check out renderings of the stations, station locations and detailed maps.

When will it be ready for service?

Buses will be rolling in the fall of 2022.



What will construction look like?

Most of the work will be done east of the Willamette — the Downtown segment will mostly use the Portland Transit Mall, and requires minimal work. Construction will be broken up into three segments along Division — West, Central, and East. Construction will begin in the eastern section of each of those three segments and crews will work westward.

Building the Division Transit Project will proceed in three phases: utility relocation, construction, and shelter and amenities installation.

Utility relocation is just that — crews will be moving power lines, updating traffic signals and other similar things.

The construction phase is when we build stations, crossings, and curb ramps, and redo the lane striping on Division. This work should follow close behind the utility relocation.

The final phase is adding the shelters and amenities; this is when we go back and add in the bus shelters, signs, lighting and more before opening.

With both the utility and construction work, you may see lanes narrowed, and flaggers along Division Street. Sections of the street might be dug up and repaved. The later shelter and amenities installation should be less intrusive, since it’ll be taking place on the already-built platforms. 

You can learn more about construction progress on the project website, and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Are businesses on Division open during construction?

Yes, absolutely! Any type of construction can be challenging for businesses. While construction should move quickly, we still encourage you to explore all Division has to offer.

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