Eugene Transit Trip Report - introduction

This report covers a special trip made by me, Steve Geller, to Eugene, Oregon. I went in early October 2007, to study Eugene’s public transit system.

I was especially interested in the “Emerald Express” (EmX), the new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) which became operational in January 2007. Since Berkeley and the East Bay are considering a BRT system, and Eugene is a college town like Berkeley, I wanted to see what I could learn from their operational BRT.

disclaimer: This report is not a technical analysis of Eugene public transit, the Lane County Transit District or of the EmX BRT. Rather, it consists of my personal impressions of Eugene transit, as a bus rider.

****This report is a "work in progress" and will be corrected as errors and omissions are discovered. Error reports are welcomed and should be sent to stgeller@comcast.net.

About Eugene

Eugene is located about 300 miles south of Portland and, like Portland, is also on the Willamette River. [pronounced wih-LAM-et (like ceramic)] Eugene is paired with Springfield to make twin cities.

The population of Eugene is about 150,000 and Springfield about 50,000.

Eugene is the home of the University of Oregon. The athletic teams of the University of Oregon are known as the “Ducks” because Oregon is wet and there are a lot of ducks in Eugene. The Eugene city slogan is “world’s greatest city for the arts and outdoors”. Springfield is more industrial, a center for the lumber industry. Both cities are part of Lane County, Oregon, a pleasant, green and moist region.

The Eugene city website has a nice video about the region. Click here to play the video.

I was much impressed with Eugene’s public transit and with their new BRT. I would call Eugene “transit heaven”. Clearly, a lot of good planning and leadership was behind what I saw. In public transit, Eugene is far more advanced than Berkeley.

Train Trip

To get to Eugene, I traveled overnight on the AMTRAK “Coast Starlighter”. I boarded the train at Jack London Square in Oakland on October 7, 2007 at about 9:30PM. I stowed my suitcase in my roomette, and as the train started moving, relaxed and watched the passing scene. The train picked up more passengers at Emeryville and then sped on to Martinez, winding its way around the shore of the Bay.

Somewhere after passing Berkeley, the sleeping car porter set up my bed for the night. I turned in and was soon asleep. I barely remember the stop in Sacramento.

Train travel is so much more relaxed than the crowded, paranoid hassle that air travel has become these days. The only security inspection I got was the porter taking my ticket and making sure I knew how to find the dining car and the toilets. Nobody looked at my carry-on suitcase, which easily fit into a corner of my roomette.

I woke up on the morning of Monday, October 8 in southern Oregon, among the evergreens and aspens of the high country. Looking out my East-facing window, I saw the sky turn from black to blue to orange. The sun revealed the trees in their full fall colors – green, yellow, red.

The train arrived at Klamath Falls, Oregon at 8AM, ahead of schedule. From there, we ran along the shore of Upper Klamath Lake, with its dark waters, mists and flocks of birds. The Cascade Mountains were visible to the West. Commentary on the speaker system informed passengers that this shallow lake was formed long ago by an earthquake and is the source of the Klamath River.

We climbed through Williamson Gorge through red-barked Ponderosas and orange volcanic soil. At 10:40AM we were in the old-growth forest of Salt Creek Canyon. It sure is beautiful country. The tracks clung to canyon walls and went through numerous tunnels. I spent most of my time at the roomette window, watching the scenery.

Arrival in Eugene

Right on-time at 12:50PM the train pulled into Eugene Depot. I left my cozy roomette and began walking along Willamette Street toward 4th Street, rolling my suitcase behind me. Before I left home, I had used the Internet to print out directions to my hotel, which was not far from the Depot. At this point, I didn’t know Eugene’s bus system well enough to use it.

In front of the Depot, I noted bus stops marked “40 - Echo Hollow” and “Breeze”.

My hotel was the La Quinta Inn, on the other side of the Willamette, near the river. It was a pleasant walk to get there. There is a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the river, near a highway bridge. A sign said that the pedestrian bridge was dedicated in May 2000 to honor Peter DeFazio and to “promote transportation and recreation opportunities in harmony with the natural environment.”

All during my visit, I noticed that a lot of people were riding bicycles. The area is fairly flat. Many bikes ride on the sidewalks; some zoomed by me at high speed. Several bikes had a trailer attached, carrying freight of some kind (or maybe a child). Clearly, many people commute to work by bike.

As I paused to consult my printout to find my next turn, I met a lady in a wheelchair who pleasantly asked if I needed directions. I thanked her and said that so-far, I was OK. She smiled and said “don’t want you to get lost in our town.”

After checking me in, the lady at the hotel desk asked why I had come to Eugene. I explained my interest in public transportation and in the new EmX line. She said she doesn’t ride the buses, but “I hear it (the EmX) is doing very well.”

My room on the 3rd floor had a pleasant view of a creek and some ducks. It was quiet. I could sleep well at night, and later on, found it pleasant to return to the room during the day to rest up.

Oregon Ethnic Types

A large proportion of the residents of this part of Oregon are blondes or redheads, perhaps the result of large past immigrations from Scandinavia and North Germany. I saw far fewer Blacks or Asians than I’m used to in the San Francisco Bay Area. Evidently Spanish speakers are the only significant linguistic minority, because that’s the only other language on signs and in bus announcements. I seldom heard Spanish spoken on the streets or the buses. Out near the university, I heard other languages spoken, just as I do near UC Berkeley.

Lane County Transit District

Public transit in Eugene and Springfield is operated by the Lane County Transit District (LTD).

Look at the LTD website -- www.ltd.org Note the pages about their ridership figures and the piece about the effect of bus riding on greenhouse gas emissions.

Eugene has bus service to other cities. LTD runs a line to the town of Coberg. There’s Greyhound and there’s PSL – Porter Stage Lines, which makes trips to the Oregon coast, including Coos Bay.

Fares

The cash fare on LTD’s numbered buses is $1.25; a Day Pass costs $2.50; a monthly pass is $35 and a 3-month pass is $95. For seniors and disabled, everything is half-price.

On Tuesdays, seniors ride free. A sign on a bus lists the sponsor for each Tuesday:

October 9 was a Tuesday, and being myself a senior, I took full advantage. Evidently my gray hair was sufficient ID. I saw numerous other seniors board the buses with no challenge.

Seniors 70 or older ride LTD buses free all the time.

Even on non-Tuesdays, a senior can buy a Day Pass for only $1.20 and ride the buses all day long. You buy the Day Pass on the bus. The driver has a pad with slips of paper printed with the day's date, he pulls one slip off and gives it to you. You then show the slip when boarding other buses. I bought a Day Pass twice while I was there. Heck of a deal.

Even if you’re not a senior, you can buy a Day Pass for $2.50. LTD does not use transfers at all.

University of Oregon students flash their ID card as a transit pass. Lane Community College also issues a student transit pass.

In general, I got the impression that people riding the LTD buses almost always have some kind of pass. This noticeably speeds boarding.

Types of LTD Bus Service

Besides the numbered routes, there are at least three other bus services operated by LTD: “Ride Source”, “Breeze” and “EmX”. There are also several special shuttles, including those for sports fans on Ducks game days.

Ride Source is vans; it’s like East Bay ParaTransit – a service for people who are too disabled to ride the buses.

Breeze is a special shuttle bus route, with a cash fare of 50 cents for everyone. The name comes from the idea of “breezing around town.” Special blue 40-ft buses, marked with the “Breeze” logo, follow a circuit around Eugene. Breeze serves the Eugene Transit Center, Valley River Center mall, AMTRAK’s Eugene Depot and the Sacred Heart Medical Center, plus several other popular destinations. The Breeze bus also covers most of the University of Oregon campus. I found Breeze stops near my hotel, the AMTRAK Depot and in the Eugene transit station.

EmX is the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) which I had come especially to ride. It is a fixed route between the Eugene Station and the Springfield Station. A long section of the EmX route is one street over from the University of Oregon campus. Riding on the EmX is free. Service is every 10 minutes for most of the day. The one-way trip takes 15 to 20 minutes.

I found the buses on the numbered routes very senior-friendly. In the 40-ft buses, seats in the front face the aisle. The first pair of facing seats will hold 3-people on each side of the aisle. The seats of the second 3-people pair can be folded up, to accommodate a wheelchair on either side of the aisle. The first pair of 3-people seats, right behind the front door, are marked as priority seating for seniors and disabled. Next come five rows of forward-facing 2-people seats -- on both sides of the aisle. There’s one pair of two-people seats near the back door. The bench in the far rear of the bus has room for at least 5 people.

These 40-ft buses have two doors, both on the right. A few 40-ft buses are low-floor, with a step to get to a raised platform in the rear, but for most buses, a rider boarding at the front door has to climb stairs. A mechanical lift at the front door is operated by the driver to board wheelchairs, walkers, grocery carts and strollers (I saw it used for all four). I didn’t ride the articulated buses much; they have a similar layout, with aisle-facing seats up front.

All the buses on which I could find a manufacturer label were made by Gillig, of Hayward California. I suspect that some of the unlabelled buses were also made by Gillig. All the 40-ft buses I saw appeared to be regular diesels. I saw no hybrids or hydrogen buses.

First Excursion

On the afternoon of my arrival, after I was settled at the hotel, I walked back over the pedestrian bridge into downtown Eugene. I had a meal at one of the “international restaurants” in the 5th Street Public Market, which includes shops for art, wine and knick-knacks. I ate a "gyro plate" at the Greek restaurant.

After wandering the streets some more, I rode a Breeze bus from downtown out to VRC – Valley River Center. VRC is evidently the largest shopping mall in the area, with the usual huge parking lot. There’s a small bus mall at one end, which serves the Breeze and three other LTD bus lines. The bus mall is called “VRC Station” and offers some shelter, benches and posted schedules.

The Breeze bus may be smaller than 40-ft ones – perhaps 35-ft, but it has much the same layout as a 40-ft bus, with 2 doors, stairs and a front-door wheelchair lift. Bicycle racks on the front of these buses can carry up to two bikes.

By the way, all of the Eugene buses except the EmX use the traditional pull-cord to signal for a stop.

Bus stop styles vary from a single pole with two flanged seats to a shelter with a roof and a bench for at least three people. Most bus stops (all the Breeze stops) have a posted schedule. The schedules list the times, highlighting the PM times, and carry the caveat “bus will not pass this stop sooner than the time shown.” This leaves latitude for being late.

Some bus stops have entertaining designs, including fanciful figures of people.

Not being sure at this point where the buses stopped near my hotel, I ended up walking home that first evening, again using the pleasant pedestrian bridge to cross the river. On arrival at the hotel, I took advantage of the “business center” which had a couple computers with Internet access. I called up the LTD web site http://www.ltd.org and noted down some details about the fares and the Breeze service. Then I went to bed.

First Full Day

On the morning of Tuesday October 9, I went out and located a regular bus stop and boarded a 79 bus to Eugene Station, the main transit center. I asked the driver if it was really true that seniors ride free on Tuesdays. He smiled and assured me this was the rule, so I got in and sat down without paying a fare. The bus was about half full; everyone had a seat.

The weather was overcast and cool. Later on that day, I noticed a bank temperature display showing 59 degrees F.

The 79 bus delivered me to Eugene Station, located in the middle of downtown. The station is a very pleasant transit mall. It includes a convenience store. Restaurants are around the corner. At one end of the station there’s a building with public rest rooms and information booths, staffed by LTD. The interior of this building has many seats, and is heated for the Oregon winters. I picked up a bus system map.

The station has bays designated A through S -- 19 buses, including Breeze and EmX. I didn’t see any RideSource vans there. Crosswalks connect one side of the station to the other; pedestrians have right of way.

Most buses were the standard 40-ft type. Some were 60-ft articulated. The Breeze buses may have been 40-ft, but I thought they looked shorter, perhaps 35-ft. All buses at the bays were LTD buses; no other bus lines serve the station.

The EmX

Bay S is for the EmX. There it was, a big, green articulated bus. Click here for some pictures of it at the station.

The EmX buses are custom-manufactured by New Flyer in Winnipeg, Canada.

There are doors on both sides. Riders board through the middle and rear doors.

There is a door up-front, on the right, next to the driver, which I never saw used except by the drivers to get on and off. On another EmX trip, I attempted to get off at the right front door, but the driver told me to use the middle door. There appears to be a large ramp in the floor at the right front door; perhaps they use that ramp for some special boarding.

Wheelchairs board through the middle door, which gives easy access to the parking space for wheelchairs. There’s a short ramp, deployed remotely by the driver, without leaving his seat. There’s a voice warning when the ramp is about to be deployed. Once all wheelchairs have rolled aboard, the driver often invites other riders to board, before he retracts the ramp. Bikes board through the rear door, which gives access to the bike parking area inside. Up to three bikes are allowed aboard; I saw the driver check this several times. The EmX does not have a bike rack on the front.

A sign in the station says “wheel your bike within the station”. One time, I saw an EmX driver yell at a bike rider, who must have ridden across the station to catch the bus. “Walk your bike!” The bike rider was grumpy and surly. He said he was late for his new job and didn’t want to lose it. The driver was unsympathetic. The bike rider continued to gripe to fellow riders as the bus got under way.

Both the Eugene and Springfield stations are patrolled by uniformed Wackenhut security guards. They wore smokey-the-bear hats and were lightly equipped -- I saw no guns or billy clubs. Perhaps some of the pouches on their belts contained restraint equipment such as handcuffs. I saw as many as two guards at a time at the Eugene station. I wasn’t ever there late at night.

I only saw one incident where a security guard interacted with a bus rider. There’s a posted rule against smoking within the station. The guard told a guy to take his cigarette outside. Smoking, ever popular even in enlightened Eugene, was thus confined to a strip of sidewalk just outside the entrances to the station area. This meant that riders entering and exiting the station often had to pass through a cloud of smoke.

Riding the EmX

At mid-morning, I boarded an EmX for my first ride.

The EmX leaves the station on a city street, sharing a lane with cars. After rounding a corner, it comes onto the first bus-only lane. This is a one-vehicle-wide strip of gray concrete marked BUS ONLY and running down the middle of the street.

Note: from here on, I’m going to call the “bus-only lanes” by the shorter name “busway”.

The first station on the way to Springfield is High Street. It’s in the middle, with busways on both sides. Between the busway and the curb there is a traffic lane for cars, on both sides. There is a pedestrian crossing with a walk light for getting from the station to the sidewalk, across the busway and a car lane. At High Street station, the left side doors opened. As the bus approached, this was announced by an automatic voice in English “doors open to the left” and Spanish “los puertos se abrir al la izquierda”. The High Street Luxury Apartments are right next to the station – very transit-oriented.

As near as I could tell, only the EmX uses the busways. No cars, trucks or even other LTD buses are ever in the busways. I wasn’t present to see an emergency vehicle use a busway, but I presume they do so.

The next station after High Street is at Sacred Heart Medical Center. After that, the route parallels the University of Oregon campus.

Cars can cross the busway, to turn onto a cross-street, but cars must yield to the EmX. Traffic lights nicely control this in most places. Once, I saw an EmX driver give a warning honk to a car in the lane to the right of a busway; the car was flashing its left-turn signal.

I was impressed with how well the EmX drivers line up the bus wheels close to the edge of a platform. I looked for any evidence of hi-tech help from sensors, but saw none. The driver has several screens to look at, but they all seem to be for watching riders boarding and perhaps something to do with the schedule. I made a point of looking for tire scrape marks at the edges of platforms; I did not see very many.

Once, at the Eugene Station, I thought the arriving driver left too wide a gap between the bus and the platform. The short wheelchair ramp doesn’t leave a lot of margin.

Because the fare is free for everyone on the EmX and there are two wide doors for boarding, the EmX doesn’t spend much time at the intermediate stations. The service is advertised as every 10 minutes during most of the day (5:45AM to 6:15PM) and 15-20 minutes at other times, including weekends. My impression is that they keep to this level of service quite well. EmX runs until 11PM Monday-Saturday, and to 8PM on Sundays.

The interior of the EmX is very good. Up front, over the right wheel well, there’s a platform for packages. The seat just behind this platform was a great place for me to watch as the bus negotiated the busways.

There are plenty of grab bars, and many seats are aisle-facing and near the center door. There are some raised seats over the wheel-wheels, but these have a step to make them more accessible.

The EmX bus is supposed to be a hybrid drive. Maybe it is. As the bus moved, I could hear the whine of an electric motor. But, based on my experience driving a rental Prius, I was expecting to hear the diesel engine run steadily to charge the battery, and shut down at stop lights. I could hear the engine accelerate in bursts as the bus negotiated turns. I thought it made about as much noise as one of the 40-ft diesel buses. The vehicles are described as being equipped with a continuously variable transmission which “allows for quick but smooth acceleration from stops and through the various road segments”. This doesn’t sound quite like a diesel-electric hybrid. Perhaps these buses are special.

The engine is at the end of the rear segment of the articulated bus. The transmission and the link between the two sections must have a very special mechanical design in order to propel both bus segments by pushing from the rear section. Engine, transmission and linkage all seemed to work very smoothly.

Busways

There are two types of busway. One is a single slab of concrete. The other is two tracks, one for each wheel, with grass between the tracks. Click here for pictures of bus-only lanes.

I was impressed with the skill of the EmX drivers, who keep the wheels rolling down the middle of the track while the bus rolls along rapidly.

In Eugene, part of the EmX route is on a highway, which has 3 lanes in each direction. The bus shares lanes with cars, and pulls out of the left lane into the busway next to a station, which is in the middle of the highway.

Springfield Station

Springfield has no busways, but there are only two EmX stations there. Before ending in Springfield, the route passes through a third community named Glenwood, which has one station and no busways. Several times, the EmX encountered traffic congestion near the Springfield station.

As the EmX arrives at the Springfield station, there’s an announcement that this bus will return to Eugene station. A bunch of people get off. I estimate that most of the riders go all the way from Eugene to Springfield, and about a third get on or off at the intermediate stations.

The Springfield station is smaller – 8 bus bays, designated A thru H. There’s a roof over all of the platform. There are schedules and benches. Wackenhut guards also patrol in Springfield.

The Springfield Station has two fast-food outlets (one for buns, the other for tacos). It also has public rest rooms, and a small information center. I saw what appeared to be a room for bus drivers to rest and relax. The station has an eye-catching obelisk at the entrance.

I saw a bike parking area, with fixtures for locks. I gather that LTD is trying to discourage bikes from the EmX, with the limit of 3. Twice I saw an EmX driver go back to verify that no more than 3 were aboard.

Springfield is more of a working-class town than Eugene. A lot of lumber industry is there. Springfield might be more conservative politically. Here’s a picture of a mural on a gun shop).

I saw signs urging a yes vote on measure 20-131 “for a new downtown”. The downtown area near the EmX station wasn’t classy, but I didn’t see any empty store-fronts.

By the way, I didn’t see very many “street people” in either Eugene or Springfield. I did see some scruffy-looking bearded types carrying a knapsack, and Eugene had several weirdly-dressed young people – standard for any college town. I got panhandled only once: a guy wheeling a bike asked me for 75 cents – that was in Eugene, near the station. Downtown Eugene looked quite prosperous and lively.

After wandering around downtown Springfield, I rode the EmX back to Eugene.

I made several other EmX trips. On some, I just stayed on the bus in Springfield and rode it back; I didn’t get hassled. I don’t even remember any strange looks while I scribbled in my notebook.

During the 4 days of my visit I logged at least 17 separate EmX trips, including some which didn’t go all the way to Springfield. I think I got a good impression of BRT operation from a rider viewpoint.

Other Notes about EmX

The bus always tilts before the doors open, to make the bus floor line up with the platform floor. People seem to have no trouble getting on and off. Wheelchairs smoothly rolled on and off; so did walkers and grocery carts When I rode during morning or evening rush hours, the EmX bus was full, with some standees. I didn’t encounter a crush load during any of my trips.

All kinds of people ride the EmX. At some times, as in Berkeley, the majority of riders were students. There are at least three EmX stations near the University of Oregon campus.

Despite the free fare on the EmX, I did not see any street people crowding those buses.

Shared Busways

There are places where the EmX has one shared busway for both directions. At such places, when an in-bound and an out-bound bus encounter each other, one bus will pause, while the other bus exits the single busway and veer onto one of two parallel busways.

In some places, there’s a special traffic light for EmX. The lights show white bars so as not to confuse the car drivers. The “red light” is a horizontal bar. The “green light” is a vertical bar, brighter than the horizontal bar. These EmX signals are coordinated with the colored traffic signals for cars. For example, a left-turn green arrow for cars is synchronized with the vertical bar for the EmX.

The EmX is supposed to receive priority at signal-controlled intersections. This was not clearly evident to me. I did notice that the EmX got through intersections fairly quickly. I never saw the light change to green (white vertical bar) as the EmX approached an intersection. The Wikipedia article on EmX mentions some early problems with signal priority.

In some places downtown, there were loading zones on the streets paralleling the busways. During my trips, I didn’t see any serious conflict with delivery vehicles or parked cars. The signals work quite well to allow cars to cross the busways to turn into a side-street.

The EmX generally stops at all intermediate stations, especially downtown, but may bypass some of them. There’s an automatic announcement – example “Glenwood Station. Please press the red button on the pole near the exit to signal your stop.” There are no pull-cords on the EmX.

By the way, it’s always called “EmX” (Emerald Express). I never saw it referred to as a “BRT” on signs anywhere.

Dragonfly

During one ride, I was startled to see a large green mobile of a dragonfly inside the bus, dangling up front, next to the driver and just back of the center of the front window. I was amazed that his distraction would be allowed – as the bus bumped and rocked, the dragonfly wings flapped and it appeared to fly around. I only saw this on one bus. I later realized that the green dragonfly is a symbol of the EmX – there’s a dragonfly pictured on the cover of the LRT system map, above the motto “green and growing”.

The EmX seems well-patronized. I never saw one of them empty, but I didn’t ride early in the morning (5:45AM) or late at night (11PM). On one return from Springfield, there were only 3 or 4 passengers; this was in mid-afternoon.

BRT and Business

Much of the route is along a 4-lane road, with no curb parking, but many businesses. The businesses provide their own parking. Traffic ran thick and fast in those places.

One morning, I rode the EmX to a breakfast restaurant in that area, which I’d noticed on an earlier trip.

With no fare to pay, it’s easy to hop on and off.

EmX and the U of O

EmX parallels a long section of 13th street, which is a main road through the University campus. I strolled along a portion of 13th street, looking over the sidewalk stalls, selling ethnic food, clothing and decorative objects.

After 13th street leaves the campus, it becomes a commercial area like Telegraph in Berkeley, but without the street merchants. The EmX doesn’t interfere with any of this, because it runs one block over. The “Breeze” bus and a couple other lines also serve the University.

Eating on the EmX

There were no signs prohibiting eating or drinking aboard the EmX buses. I saw several riders sipping a soft drink, or munching a snack; this behavior would not be allowed on AC Transit buses. In Eugene, this didn’t seem to make the bus very dirty.

Notes on non-EmX buses

Most buses have an information display visible at the top front of the bus. It shows the date and time and “Stop Requested”. I didn’t see any that showed the name of the next stop. I did not see any “Next Bus” displays at a bus stop, or even at Eugene Station.

The drivers were all very pleasant, especially to seniors. Disabilities and wheelchairs were dealt with efficiently.

The Day Pass is very convenient. It’s the price of two fares, must be bought on the bus, and allows the purchaser to ride buses all the rest of the purchase day. LTD does not use transfers.

The majority of riders use the Day Pass or some other kind of pass. Cash fares were seldom paid.

No POP (proof of Payment) is implemented anywhere in the Lane County District.

The system serves a wide area in Eugene and Springfield. I rode several “random buses” and often found myself in industrial and suburban areas on the edge of town. I think if I lived in Eugene, and got some experience with the buses, I could get anywhere I wanted to. There’s nothing like the Berkeley Hills.

At Eugene Station, there are always two bus numbers marked at each bay. When a bus arrives, it changes to the other number for departure. This seems to be the rule for perhaps all the numbered lines. AC Transit uses this scheme for the 65 and 67 buses which go between downtown Berkeley and the Berkeley Hills.

Last Day

Thursday, October 11 was my last day in Eugene.

I did a quick survey of inbound traffic on Martin Luther King, a main street near my hotel, between 7AM and 7:30AM. I only counted passenger vehicles -- cars and some pickups. I got figures similar to those I get on similar surveys in Berkeley. Out of a total of 247 cars, 215 (87%) carried only the driver, 30 (12%) carried two people and 2 carried more than two people. My train south was scheduled for about 5:30PM, so I thought I’d do a little more bus riding. I checked out of the La Quinta and walked with my suitcase over to the train station. I left the suitcase with AMTRAK and had a nice breakfast at “Morning Glory”, right nearby.

I’d noticed a stop for the 40 Echo Hollow bus in front of the depot, but I couldn’t tell if it was for buses coming or going from the Eugene Station. So when I got to Eugene Station (on foot), I looked for the bay where the 40 departs, and shortly boarded one. Sure enough, it went to the stop at the train depot. I stayed on the bus to see what “Echo Hollow” was. It turned to be yet another industrial area on the fringes of the city. I got off at “Four Corners”, where highway 99 comes through. I found stops for other buses, and rode one of them back to Eugene Station.

I then boarded the EmX for yet one more ride to Springfield. When I got back to Eugene, I rode the 40 Echo Hollow over to the train depot and only then decided I’d ridden my last bus for the Eugene trip. AMTRAK was late, so I had plenty of time to catch up on my notes and do a little reading before settling into my roomette about 7PM to begin rolling home.

Summary and Conclusions

This visit to Eugene transit was a very successful trip. My overall impression is that Eugene has a great public transportation system. It shows the result of a lot of planning and public input. LTD is an example to other cities. The Bay Area could do as well, if people there had the same attitude as in Eugene and Springfield.

There are plenty of cars in Eugene. Several multi-level parking structures are available for downtown drivers. There was plenty of traffic while I was there, but I didn’t see any traffic jams as bad as on Berkeley’s College Avenue on a Cal game day.

I understand that EmX will be free for its first year, then they might start charging a fare.

Construction of the current EmX line cost approximately $24 million. The primary source of funding was $19.2 million of Federal Transit Administration Section 5307 and 5309 funds. The BRT on Telegraph and International Blvd will cost over $300 million.

The Wikipedia article is a little out of date now, but it gives some details about problems the EmX encountered during its start-up.

There are plans for at least one more BRT line, which might start building next year (2008). It will go through a residential area, and some opposition has surfaced.

Here’s a summary of what I think Eugene public transit is doing right:

end of report - Eugene transit trip

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