Tom Mills, a Service Planner from Tri-Met, came out for Troutdale's city council meeting tonight. We had a great discussion on the potential for improved transit service in Troutdale as well as East Multnomah County.
The discussion centered around how difficult it was to utilize only Tri-Met to commute to downtown Portland. Given the length of time to hop on the 80 or 81 bus, ride it over to the Gresham Transit Center, then hop on MAX for the ride downtown, you're talking around 75 minutes bus/MAX ride time, not including waiting for the bus/MAX. Round trip, you're talking 3 hours out of your day, easy.
Mr. Mills gave us good news and bad news. The bad news is what has been in the papers. Tri-Met is financially constrained due to vastly increased fuel prices. No surprise there. The good news is that Mr. Mills said that Tri-Met is more than willing to work with Troutdale to see if it possible to do such things as add an express bus, change the routes of existing bus line for easier access, or add park and ride lots. He didn't sugar-coat anything. But he didn't give a bureaucratic "can't be done" either. (Believe me, you don't see this kind of reality-speak every day in government land.)
The discussion covered a lot more ground than what I have mentioned. However, Mr. Mills gave Troutdale a ray of hope by emphasizing that Tri-Met staff is very willing to work with Troutdale as well as the other East County small cities regarding transit service improvements.
I'm not a total Tri-Met booster by any stretch of the imagination. For instance, I have doubts about the wisdom of spending billions of dollars for light rail infrastructure in return for a marginal and diminishing decrease, if any, of automobile users. But Tri-Met scored big credibility points tonight with this City Councilor.