It had been 26 years since the 1982 Light Rail System Plan. In the interim, 64 miles of light rail, commuter rail and streetcar had been built; 26 more miles were in the planning stages.
This Regional High Capacity Transit System Plan is part of the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan adopted by the Metro Council in 2010.
What is high capacity transit?
High capacity transit is public transit that has an exclusive right of way, a non-exclusive right of way or a combination of both. 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. It includes:
- Light rail uses high capacity trains (68 seats with room and design for several passengers to stand) and focuses on regional mobility with stops typically one-half to 1 mile apart, connecting concentrated housing or local bus hubs and employment areas. The service has its own right of way. Cars can be doubled, and service frequency increased, during peak hours.
- Commuter rail uses high capacity heavy rail trains (74 seats in a single car, 154 in doubled cars), typically sharing right of way with freight or other train service (though out of roadway). The service focuses on connecting major housing or local bus hubs and employment areas with few stops and higher speeds. The service may have limited or no non-peak service.
- Bus rapid transit uses coach-style or high capacity buses (40-60 seats with room and design for several passengers to stand). The service may be in the roadway with turnouts and signal priority for stops, have an exclusive right of way, or be some combination of the two. The service focuses on regional mobility, with higher speeds, fewer stops, higher frequency and more substantial stations than local bus, connecting concentrated housing or local bus hubs and employment areas. Service frequency can be increased during peak hours.
- Using the same technology as local streetcar, rapid streetcar focuses on regional mobility, offering fewer stops through less populated areas to connect housing areas to jobs or other destinations. Cars can be doubled, and service frequency increased, during peak hours. The service operates in mixed traffic, in exclusive right of way or a combination of the two.
The plan was developed by Metro and:
- the 24 cities within Metro’s boundaries
- Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties
- residents of the region
- Federal Transit Administration
- Oregon Department of Transportation
- Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation.
Another aspect of the plan is its system expansion policy framework – a process agreed to by Metro and local jurisdictions to advance high capacity transit projects to regional priority. The framework:
- identifies which corridors should move into the federal project development process
- establishes a process for other corridors to advance toward development
- measures a corridor’s readiness for investment using targets such as transit supportive land use policies, ridership development plans, community support and financial feasibility.