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Defining high capacity transit

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

High capacity transit includes any form of public transit that has an exclusive right of way, a non-exclusive right of way or a possible combination of both. High capacity transit vehicles make fewer stops, travel at higher speeds, have more frequent service and carry more people than local service transit such as typical bus lines. High capacity transit includes options such as light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit; these and others will be examined as part of the High Capacity Transit System Plan. Final determination of which mode or modes to use in future projects will be made during each project's analysis process.


Watch the video of the presentation given at workshops in summer 2008 to learn more about what defines high capacity transit.

Light rail

Light rail is a frequent and high-capacity service that operates on a fixed guideway within an exclusive right of way to the extent possible, connecting the central city with regional centers. Light rail service runs at least every 10 minutes during the weekday and weekend midday base periods with limited stops and operates at higher speed outside of city centers. The speed and schedule reliability of light rail can be maintained by the provision of signal preemption at-grade crossings and/or intersections.

Commuter rail

Commuter rail is the use of existing freight railroad tracks, either exclusively or shared with freight use, for passenger service. The service is typically focused on peak commute periods but can be offered other times of the day when demand exists and where rail capacity is available. The stations are typically located one or more miles apart, depending on the overall route length.

Bus rapid transit

Bus rapid transit emulates light rail in speed, frequency and comfort, serving major transit routes with limited stops. This service runs at least every 15 minutes during the weekday and weekend mid-day base periods.

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