This website is published by the Hawthorne Avenue Neighbors--
a coalition of business owners and residents calling for better transit planning in Bend.
Transit in Bend has been poorly planned for 20 years.
The legacy of transit planning in Bend isn't pretty. Three failed bond measures. The big blue buses. Opening a transit station at the intersection of two neighborhood streets. Now, just when the City of Bend and Cascades East Transit were poised to make a bold new plan--we're faltering once again.
At the heart of the problem is Hawthorne Station.
For several years, we've known there's a big problem with Hawthorne Station, the main transit station for Bend and the region. Transit agency leaders have described it as "at capacity" now. A 2019 traffic and engineering study pointed out immediate safety issues that make Hawthorne an unfair facility for people with disabilities and a facility that many community members just don't feel safe visiting.
The study concluded that we cannot grow transit in Bend without substantial immediate investment in new facilities.
But Bend's new 20-year transit plan, retains Hawthorne Station as the primary transit center for Bend and Central Oregon for the next 20 years. To make matters worse, no other new transit facilities are planned in Bend for the next 10 years, according to the plan.
In the meantime, the plan says more than 100 new bus stops will be built, headways will be reduced across the city (meaning more buses making more transfers), more routes will be implemented and intercity traffic to Redmond and other cities will be increased by 45 percent. With no new facilities, how will we serve this growth?
Meanwhile, the CIty of Bend's new Transportation System Plan calls for an investment of less than 2 percent in transit projects out of overall spending of more than $650 million.
It's another chapter in the story of the broken Bend transit system. And it's time for transit advocates to speak up and say:
This isn't good enough.
Why are transit facilities important?
Investments in safe and modern facilities promote equity across Bend
Transit is an essential service for a large portion of Bend's population, including our most vulnerable residents. Seniors, low-income families, households without cars, Spanish speakers, and people with disabilities all need a system with accessible and safe transit facilities that to make it easy to stay on the go and fully participate in Bend life.
Transit facilities relieve pressure on roads
A whopping 20 new people move to Central Oregon every day. In Bend we expect a population of 120,000 by 2030. Growth puts new strain on already congested roads. We need high-quality transit facilities and services that attract choice riders instead of giving them another reason not to take the bus.
Convenient facilities provide access to higher education
Most OSU-Cascades and COCC students live in the region and commute to class. Cost, congestion, and limited campus parking are top reasons students need transit. But for it to work, they need facilities that make it easy to catch routes leading straight to campus.
Facilities that work for employees, work for business
Economists predict Central Oregon will lead the state in job growth over the next decade with as much as 58 percent growth. To support economic development we will increasingly need transit facilities that are capable of moving the workforce with speed and reliability.
Modern and well-placed facilities help keep tourism impacts low
Though much of Bend's traffic is local, we can reduce trips on our roads by providing real transit options for visitors--such as conveniently located transit stations near lodging and retail--that make it easy to leave the car at home.
Download the handout
So what's wrong with Hawthorne Station?
The Bend transit system is built around a "hub and spoke" model. Buses run through the central hub at Hawthorne Station, where riders get off, switch buses and continue on to their destinations.
Initially, the 4th Street and Hawthorne Avenue site was intended as an "interim only" solution for kicking off a small fixed route system with six buses. The City of Bend Public Works Director who initially chose the site for the fixed route connections in 2007 has testified to the Bend City Council and transit agency board of directors that everyone involved knew a different site was needed in order for the system to expand.
While transit agency leaders write in the plan that they know Hawthorne Station now needs to be "de-emphasized," the new 20-year transit plan actually retains Hawthorne Station as the region's primary transit center until 2040, with no analysis of how the station can actually support growth.
Here are some of the specific concerns about Hawthorne Station identified in a 2019 traffic and safety engineering study, which can be downloaded at right.
Hawthorne Station was approved for use as a transit station without a transportation impact analysis. In fact, the City of Bend approved the station after just 20 days from the time the transit agency submitted an application for its approval, without any land-use or public engagement process
The station fails to meet nine of the key standards and guidelines the Oregon Department of Transportation has provided for transit stations in Oregon
At Hawthorne Station buses stage entirely on both sides of city streets, the only example of such a station the safety study could find
The station is not fully ADA accessible and the sidewalk network around the station is incomplete
People using wheelchairs, people who are blind and deaf, and pedestrians must share the center of Hawthorne Avenue with bicyclists, people driving cars and delivery trucks, and with buses because of the lack of sidewalks and the places buses are staged
Crashes are elevated where the local streets serving Hawthorne Station connect to major roads
The .8-acre parcel owned by the transit agency adjacent to Hawthorne Avenue is not configured to allow bus traffic on-site
Hawthorne Station is adjacent to inappropriate zones, such as across the street from single family residential housing
The station is inconveniently located away from the urban core
There is limited space on-site for a park and ride
The 2019 traffic and engineering study was conducted by Bend-based Transight Consulting, led by Joe Bessman, Oregon-licensed engineer and long-time Bend industry professional.
"Ultimately, I conclude that service in Bend has effectively outgrown this current location and new facility sites must be determined before transit operations can grow further."
Oregon Transportation Engineer
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