Farewell to the 17 Broadway

I see that Tri-Met is going to move the 17 bus from Northeast 24th to Northeast 33rd. Instead of running along the eastern border of the Irvington neighborhood, and snaking around through the upper reaches of Alameda, the new route will slice through Alameda on 33rd on a beeline for Grant Park. I guess there will be Grant High School students on board during the school year. Those students already have a bus on 33rd, the 70; this will be another option. After the change, the nearest north-south route to the west will be the Crazy 8, on 15th. That's about a 20-block gap.

The reason given for the change is low ridership on the current route of the 17. I have no doubt that's true. There's not much reason for many people from that area to go downtown any more. And if they do go downtown, those folks have access to personal cars and rideshares, both of which are much more civilized than sitting in fentanyl residue and constantly casting a wary eye all around, whch is the new normal on Tri-Met.

I'd been riding the 17, which used to be the 9, on and off for more than 40 years. But I gave up Tri-Met a few years ago, and I'm not going back. We all pay taxes galore for that system, but it's no longer an asset to Portland. It's much more of a liability. So the 17 can go wherever they want to run it. It's dead to me.


  1. Tri- met would be an asset to the Portland area if it truly served the riders. It should really protect the rational/sane riders and stop bragging about their useless programs though media press releases

  2. TriMet should convert to on demand service only with smaller vehicles providing door to door service. There have been non profits running several on demand transit service for the elderly and disabled for years. It was the central element in letting Boring escape TriMet's district in 2011.
    TriMet staff admitted the alternative service would cover the loss of bus service and the board vote was unanimous.
    TriMet knows their entire coverage area could easily served by an on demand system. But just like with the comedic WES they stick to failure.

  3. A recent report from the Cascade Policy Institute (https://cascadepolicy.org/reports/press-release-cascade-policy-institute-report-recommends-ways-trimet-can-modernize-transit-service-for-the-21st-century/) compares several possible ways of reforming TriMet, including an on-demand system and free fares for low-income people.

    The most innovative idea, however, is to replace the current downtown-centric route map with a polycentric system consisting of 8 or 9 hubs with spokes radiating from each hub. The system would offer frequent, fast non-stop buses from every hub to ever other hub, effectively doubling average bus speeds. This could be done at little or no increase in costs from the current system yet would serve far more people.

    Of course, I may be biased because I wrote the report. To me, the key fact is that, before the pandemic, TriMet took more than 40 percent of downtown workers to work but carried only 3 percent of workers in the rest of the urban area. Unless TriMet can reinvent itself to serve people in the rest of the region as well as it served downtown, it does not deserve to continue, especially now that downtown is no longer a major work destination.

  4. I remember the Broadway streetcar.....north up 24th, south back to downtown on 22nd. We used to put wooden matches on the tracks to hear them pop.....nickels or stones to make the car bump.....motorman would stop, get out, scratch his head as to what caused it, as we hid in the bushes. Great fun in those days!

  5. Growing up, we had the convenience of the 39th ave bus (I believe) going straight down Knott St, and passing Grant. While most kids either walked or drove back then, it was convenient to have for either transfers or for heading deep into SE Portland.

    Instead of a transit system that works for the riders, we now have a transit system that works for the planners.

  6. I didn’t realize that the #17 was the old Broadway line. Just sad. I rode the heck out of that thing back in the day. I would even go so far as to walk a bit extra to 24th Ave to avoid the craziness that was the #8.

    And I also utilized it almost daily when I lived at the top of Regents drive, as it was right across from my house. But Jack is probably right about the “clientele.” Can you blame them for wanting to avoid that mess?

  7. Public transit is a lifesaver for many. The anti-car crowd has tried to make it a requirement to get around. That is not going to work. And East Portland has very little North/South roads that continue without zigzagging around- so always going to be challenging.

    And again, with the major mistake of guaranteeing healthcare to avoid labor issues way back in the day, has proven to be a huge albatross to making significant and efficient changes.


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