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Freeway stops at 99th St TC
Allowing better C-TRAN express service and pedestrian access


Base images from Clark County MapsOnline

BACKGROUND

A few years ago, C-TRAN reconfigured its transit system, including opening a new transit center near 99th Street adjacent to I-5. Since then, they have had three express bus routes that travel along I-5 to/from downtown Portland: Route 134 which serves Salmon Creek at the north end of the Vancouver metro area, Route 199 which serves 99th Street near the middle and Route 105 which serves downtown Vancouver near the southern edge of Vancouver as well as 99th Street and Salmon Creek.

See also my combined timetable of Routes 134, 199 and other C-TRAN I-5 service.

PROBLEM

Routes 199 and 134 travel along the same route, except ending at different places. In addition, they generally travel at about the same times and intervals. This causes extra costs because buses on the two routes duplicate each other for most of the length and every trip to or from Portland must deadhead or travel relatively empty in the other direction.

Simply combining them at present would increase travel times for Salmon Creek riders, since stopping at 99th Street requires getting off the freeway, going through one or two traffic signals to get to the transit center and then traveling back to the freeway and getting back on. However, C-TRAN does do this on a few later evening trips.

SOLUTION

Build bus stops next to 99th Street Transit Center along I-5 like have been done in Seattle and Denver. This would allow C-TRAN Routes 134 and 199 to be combined since serving 99th St would not be so time-consuming. Many round trips could potentially be eliminated with only a small impact to service. If necessary, articulated or other large buses could be used to handle the combined, increased loads.

It would require bus pullouts to be constructed along the southern ramps to/from 99th Street, as well as a pedestrian bridge (or undercrossing) between the northbound stop and the west side where the transit center is. The crossing could also improve pedestrian access by connecting to 95th Street (the street to the east of the proposed stops) which leads to Highway 99.

In addition, since it is not possible to travel straight across from the off-ramps to the on-ramps at 99th Street, there would need to be either ramps or another way to get to/from the freeway lanes on the north. One idea would be a southbound ramp that would merge into the southbound on-ramp as well as a special lane and traffic signal phase that would allow buses to get from the northbound off-ramp to the on-ramp.


By Jason McHuff, rctmail@jasonmchuff.net