Eugene/Springfield’s Principal Transit Segment

Background:

The Eugene/Springfield governing bodies are currently engaged in long-range planning for transportation and growth in the southern Willamette valley, including deliberations regarding expanded service of LTD’s EmX rapid transit bus service and the Envision Eugene program.  This document proposes an approach to future transit development that designates a principal transit route from west Eugene through Glenwood to Springfield downtown and encourages densification and growth along this segment.

The Goal: Transit without transfer

Broadly defined, the goal of this proposed approach to transit in Eugene/Springfield is to increase transit ridership by significantly expanding the number of trips that can be made without transfer.  Horowitz and Zlosel showed in “Transfer Penalties: Another Look at Transit Riders’ Reluctance to Transfer” that riders perceive bus transit trips as significantly worse when the trip requires a transfer, even if transfer time is negligible.

By designating a principal transit segment (PTS) through which all rapid-transit lines pass, specific areas of interest within that segment can be reached from any rapid-transit line without transfer.  Further, because all rapid-transit lines pass through this segment, transit between locations within the segment have substantially higher service frequency.

Example: Munich S-Bahn

An example of the successful implementation of this approach can be seen in the design of the S-Bahn train system in Munich, Germany.

In Munich, the major train lines converge along a 7 mile corridor from Pasing to the Ostbahnhof.  People who live, work or recreate in this segment can use transit to reach the downtown corridor or many of the outlying areas with a no-transfer trip.  Additionally, any trip that is entirely within the bounds of the corridor can be made on any train line, thus dramatically reducing wait time for such trips.

Specific Proposal:

For Eugene/Springfield this proposal contemplates the designation of the PTS along the 5.5 mile route between 6th/7th and Garfield in west Eugene and downtown Springfield through which all EmX bus rapid transit lines would pass.  The following image shows an overlay of this route on a Google Maps satellite view:

Notable on this route is that it extends the current EmX bus segment between the downtowns of Eugene and Springfield along the proposed 6th/7th EmX route.  From the overhead satellite view it clearly avoids passing through the heavily-wooded residential areas, preferring instead an existing, high-volume traffic corridor through commercial and industrial zones.  This route would link the existing high-density, pedestrian-friendly Whiteaker and Jefferson Westside neighborhoods, downtown Eugene, the University of Oregon, Glenwood and downtown Springfield as Eugene/Springfield’s principal transit segment.

This route segment alone should be considered as a logical next step for extension of the EmX system.  If designed using existing (shared) lanes of travel, this route segment could be completed in a short time at low capital cost, and would immediately begin enhancing the value of the EmX service – extending to existing riders access to the commercial zone along the entire stretch and giving rapid transit access to residents of the densely populated Whiteaker and Jefferson-Westside neighborhoods.

The image above shows the PTS (dark blue) in the context of a fully expressed bus rapid transit system.  In this example model, the Red Line runs from Barger to Thurston, the Green Line from West 11th to Riverbend and the Maroon Line from River Road to Mohawk Blvd/Marcola Road.  The light blue line could represent a streetcar from Crescent Village to south Eugene.

Densification approaches such as multi-use zoning and parking removal could be employed along the PTS to good effect.  Residents living along this segment would have desirable zero-transfer rapid transit access to a wide array of city areas and services.  Businesses located on the PTS could see a significant increase in the use of transit by customers and employees.  The increased desirability of living and working along this segment will drive development and densification, resulting in a positive reduction of driven vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and will obviate the need to expand the urban growth boundary.

The current recommendation of the Joint Locally Preferred Alternatives Committee suggests two options for consideration of the next phase of west Eugene EmX expansion: 13th to west 11th or no build.  This proposal suggests that a third option should be considered – a build of a segment from the Eugene downtown center to 6th/7th and Garfield using existing lanes of travel.  Although the 13th route may be more time and operating cost efficient for West 11th travel alone, that route would fail to achieve the improved zero-transfer and densification advantages of the principal transit segment approach.  Additionally, if EmX is extended to 6th/7th and Garfield, subsequent west Eugene route extensions (West 11th, Highway 99, River Road) can be considered in parallel.

As the EmX expansion and Envision Eugene dialogues move forward it is hoped that this proposal will provide a long-term perspective for the planning of near-term transit development.

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