Declining ridership between Vancouver and Portland throws plans for the I-5 bridge replacement into question

About the Author
Mark Harmsworth
Director, Small Business Center

This week C-Tran, the government agency responsible for transit service between Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR announced cuts to service between the two cities due to declining demand.

Clark County Today reports that the agency is citing decreased demand for transit ridership (even taking into account the pandemic) which should be considered by the bridge replacement committee work that is defining what the transportation future for region and bridge replacement looks like.

C-Tran is now focusing on cost-effective micro transit, or point-to-point transit, to meet the needs of the community, and is moving away from traditional mass transit (large buses and trains).

The current controversial replacement I-5 bridge plans have included the unpopular light rail options. United States Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D – Oregon) has stated there will be no support for a bridge without light rail and he will actively oppose any other options. Blumenauer, who is a supporter of light rail, was quoted as saying, "If I have anything to say about it, [the Columbia River bridge] will never be built unless it does.”

The ridership numbers C-Tran has reported do not support Rep. Blumenauer’s position that light rail is essential for mobility in the region.

Rather than focusing on light rail, the planning should be focused on Bus Rapid Transit as the transit option for the bridge.

The goal of the committee should be decreasing congestion and accommodating, rather than decreasing, trips.

Relieving traffic congestion and improving mobility for the greatest number of users should be a top priority for this corridor.

The replacement-bridge committee is continuing to meet, discuss and receive feedback from the public. You can follow the progress of the committee here.

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