On Wednesday, Dec. 17, the High Capacity Transit Subcommittee agreed to recommend the Barbur Boulevard corridor as the next regional priority to advance to high capacity transit project development. Project development will determine the HCT option, light rail, bus rapid transit or rapid streetcar, in the vicinity of Barbur Boulevard that will offer the best transit solution. Transit in the corridor needs to meet future travel demand while promoting, encouraging and leveraging other transportation and land use investments. The subcommittee's recommendation will be taken up by the Transportation Policy Alternatives Committee on Jan. 8.
The High Capacity Transit System Plan ranks the Barbur corridor as a near-term regional priority to expand the region's current high capacity transit system (MAX light rail and WES commuter rail). The Powell Boulevard corridor was also ranked in the highest tier, but focus has turned to the Barbur corridor due higher projected corridor ridership and projected increase in corridor ridership over the next 25 years. Improvements to the WES corridor rounded out the near-term regional priority tier. These improvements are addressed in the draft Regional Transportation Plan update currently under discussion and analysis.
The subcommittee's discussion and suggestions highlighted the ongoing regional discussion about next steps on several current or proposed projects and helped identify issues to be addressed in the plan's system expansion policy, such as:
- the mix of qualitative and quantitative measures and integration across measures
- how to use baseline data to measure change over time and how to apply performance measures
- how to evaluate the HCT plan and expansion policy performance over time
- the relationships between HCT efforts and other planning resources and requirements
- whether expansion policy process is required or voluntary for locals
- how expansion policy is tied to Regional Transportation Plan, especially the project list and funding opportunities
- whether HCT projects identified on plan map are extensions or new lines and how they fit in existing system.
The High Capacity Transit Subcommittee, consisting of 18 city and county staff, was formed as part of developing Metro's High Capacity Transit System Plan and meets on an ad hoc basis.