By Peter Zuckerman, Oregon Live
Getting to work by bus often takes more than an hour in Clackamas County because TriMet bus routes and schedules don’t fit commuting patterns.
A consultant who plugged more than 1,400 select Clackamas County employee and employer addresses into TriMet’s trip-planning software found commutes for those workers would average 78 minutes one way, far more time than most people are willing to spend.
“We’re behind our neighbors and the rest of the nation,” said Yung Ouyang, who presented the analysis to Clackamas County commissioners Tuesday. “Nobody can get to work on time using TriMet.”
Although most Clackamas County workers are within walking distance — defined as a quarter mile — of a bus stop, they use public transportation less than workers in Multnomah and Washington counties.
Clackamas County commuters who take the bus spent an average of 45 minutes one way, according to figures from the 2000 U.S. Census, compared with 39-minute trips for Multnomah County and the state.
“The amount of time it takes to get here is ridiculous,” said Jeffrey Washington, 48, of Northwest Portland, who was waiting Wednesday at a bus stop in Oregon City. “I have to buy a bus ticket twice because by the time I transfer the first one has expired.”
Washington, who doesn’t have a car, said he wouldn’t take a job in Clackamas County and rarely shops in the area because of the two-hour commute.
His attitude echoes concerns presented in the Clackamas County study, which concludes that the lack of public transportation makes it harder to attract workers and business. The disparity is likely to grow, with Clackamas County’s population and employment growth projected to outpace the Portland area’s in coming years.
Only about half of Clackamas County workers would be able to take the bus to work if they wanted to, largely because the wait for the bus is too long and the consequences of missing one too dire, the study concluded.
The Clackamas County commissioners vowed to hold more meetings examining ways to improve the public transportation system and to launch a campaign to persuade TriMet to improve services in Clackamas County.
A subsidized bus pass might make the commute less expensive, said Commissioner Lynn Peterson, but that won’t be enough. “We need to get TriMet to improve services, and we need to get our services in the right place.”