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High Capacity Transit System Plan

Planning and conservation    Regional planning and policy    MPO for the Portland region    High capacity transit plan

Learn about the program to guide regional high capacity transit capital investments by evaluating and prioritizing transportation corridors for potential new projects and extensions to existing lines.

In July 2008, Metro began developing a 30-year plan to guide investments in light rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit and rapid streetcar in the Portland metro region to be included in the Regional Transportation Plan. On July 9, 2009, the Metro Council adopted the 16 potential high capacity transit corridors in four regional priority tiers, framework for future system expansion prioritization and proposed amendments to the RTP.
Download the Metro Council
resolution (3.6M PDF)

Metro last examined the region's high capacity transit system needs in the 1982 Light Rail System Plan. Since then, 64 miles of MAX light rail, commuter rail and streetcar have been built. An additional 26 miles of light rail and rapid streetcar transit has been planned for construction by 2016. The Regional High Capacity Transit System Plan will now fold into the RTP update, which will determine how much of the region's transportation funding will be allocated to high capacity transit and other types of regional transportation like roads, freight and trails.
Find out more about the RTP update

Regional priority corridor tiers

The plan calls for a focus on three transit corridors for investment in the near-term: the corridor in the vicinity of Powell Boulevard, connecting Gresham to downtown Portland, the corridor in the vicinity of Barbur Boulevard/Highway 99, connecting downtown Portland to Tigard and possibly Sherwood, and the WES commuter rail corridor that connects Beaverton to Wilsonville, which could see WES service upgraded to all day service with trains running at 15-minute intervals.

During the process, residents were asked in interviews and at workshops and community events to identify potential connections. Residents offered 192 connections that were narrowed down to 16 through consolidation, screening and evaluation processes. The final ranking was influenced by the results of the online build-a-system tool questionnaire this spring, which told decision-makers that residents wanted ridership potential to be the main factor in deciding corridor priority, followed by environmental benefit and then cost.View the map of adopted corridors with priority tiers (2.8M PDF)

System expansion policy framework

The system expansion policy framework is designed to provide a transparent process agreed to by Metro and local jurisdictions to advance high capacity transit projects through the tiers. The framework identifies which near-term regional priority corridors should move into the federal project development process toward implementation and establishes a process for other regional priority corridors to advance to a higher tier.

The framework is based on a set of targets designed to measure corridor readiness for successful high capacity transit investment. These targets may include transit supportive land use policies, ridership development plans, community support and financial feasibility and will be fully defined in the RTP update process.

Background and considerations

Discover how the High Capacity Transit System Plan relates to other land-use and transportation plans, and learn about some of the regional and global considerations that make such a plan important... More

Defining high capacity transit

Find out how high capacity transit differs from local service transit. Put simply, it is more reliable, faster and carries more people... More

Public participation and technical evaluation

Find out how residents of the region helped create the the plan that will guide the next 30 years of high capacity transit investment....More

Meeting materials

Find links to meeting materials and presentations for the High Capacity Transit System Plan... More

Regional cooperation

The system plan was developed by Metro in the cooperation with the range of interested parties:

  • cities within Metro’s boundaries
  • Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties
  • residents of the region
  • Federal Transit Administration
  • Oregon Department of Transportation
  • TriMet
  • Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT)

Regional Transportation Plan

After considering public comment, the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation approved and the Metro Council adopted the 2035 RTP, which incorporates the High Capacity Transit System Plan, on June 10, 2010.
Learn more about the RTP update

Files and related materials

To view PDF files, download free Adobe Reader. To translate PDF files into text to assist visually-impaired users, visit

To view MOV files, download free QuickTime.

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Corridor development

Related Links

2035 Regional Transportation Plan

Learn about the adopted update to the region's plan for a safe and reliable transportation system. View ordinances, supporting documents and other publications developed throughout this four-year effort.

High Capacity Transit Subcommittee

The subcommittee is charged with reviewing public input and technical analysis to provide guidance and consensus-based recommendations that reflect the interests and priorities of local jurisdictions through the High Capacity Transit System Plan process.

Related Internet links

Impassioned civil discourse in your pajamas - Opt In

Regional transportation

High Capacity Transit System Plan fact sheet
Download the latest fact sheet, summarizing the results of the project thus far and the next steps in the process.

Regional transportation

High capacity transit evaluation report
Read the technical report on the evaluation process and result, criteria measures and rankings.

Planning and stewardship

Transit-oriented development
Metro's Transit-Oriented Development Program takes planning from the conceptual to the actual by investing in development projects in key locations throughout the region like Nexus, a mixed-use project consisting of 422 units of housing, 7100 square feet of ground floor retail and a 4500 square foot clubhouse, including a conference center, fitness center, theater and lounge.

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