Red means go for TriMet buses: New Rose Lanes improve bridge access, speed up buses, save riders time

Aug. 24, 2021
Efforts by TriMet, PBOT and other regional partners are making transit faster, more reliable and convenient.

When people return to routines that include more frequent trips to and from downtown, they’ll notice TriMet buses are picking up the pace, helping people who ride get to their destination faster. 

“We are rolling out the red carpet for our transit riders to come back and come to downtown,” said Jamie Snook, manager of Capital Planning at TriMet. 

Rose Lanes 

Portland’s Rose Lane Project is one of the key initiatives that is speeding up buses throughout the region. TriMet and the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) worked together to identify bottlenecks that were slowing down riders on some of the busiest bus lines. Then, PBOT engineers took a closer look at how traffic flowed with transit and where it could be improved. They identified transit priority upgrades to keep buses moving past congestion. One tool is using red paint to highlight areas where transit vehicles get priority. 

“We’ve been working to make sure that we are implementing improvements that are highly visible, so you’ll see a lot of green paint for improved bikeways and a lot of red paint for improved transit ways,” said Snook. 

Focus on bridges 

Some of the earliest Rose Lane projects focused on bridges that cross the Willamette River and connect people in communities from Portland to Gresham and Troutdale, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Oregon City and Estacada. PBOT crews continued to build and expand the network throughout the pandemic. While much of their work focuses on streets near downtown Portland, benefits stretch to the outskirts of the city and beyond. 

Burnside Bridge – A new Rose Lane on West Burnside Street improves access to the bridge before continuing eastbound. It connects with and extends the bus-only lane that Multnomah County installed across the bridge in late 2019. 

  • Bus lines improved: 12, 19, 20 
  • Communities served: Downtown, East and Northeast Portland, Gresham 

Hawthorne Bridge – Before the pandemic, PBOT restriped Southwest Madison Street to speed up buses heading east, especially during the evening commute. Over the last several months, crews used red paint to bring awareness to new transit priority lanes on Southeast Hawthorne and Southeast Madison streets that also help keep buses out of traffic.  

  • Bus lines improved: 2, 6, 10, 14, 30 
  • Communities served: Downtown, East, North, Northwest, Northeast and Southeast Portland, Estacada, Gresham, Milwaukie 

Morrison Bridge – Improvements on Southeast Belmont and Morrison streets between Southeast 12th Avenue, MLK and Grand improve speed and safety as buses, bikes and autos head to and from the bridge.  

  • Bus line improved: 15 
  • Communities served: Downtown, East, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest Portland 

Steel Bridge – In the summer of 2019, PBOT created a business access and transit lane on Northwest Everett leading to the Steel Bridge. The new lane immediately improved the speed of buses approaching the bridge and reduced delays for riders by as much as a minute and a half. 

  • Bus lines improved: 4, 8, 16, 35, 44, 77 
  • Communities served: Downtown, East, North, Northeast Portland, Fairview, Troutdale 

“The day that we opened the transit lane on the Burnside Bridge, buses sailed right past a line of traffic, and the passengers on the bus all clapped. This is a great thing for our current riders, and we hope more people come on board,” said Snook. 

Other projects 

Some major streets in the Portland metro area have also received the Rose Lane treatment:  

  • MLK and Grand – New, red transit lanes on Martin Luther King (MLK) Boulevard Grand Avenue, between Southeast Mill and Northeast Broadway help Line 6 buses and Portland Streetcar move more freely through more than 1.5 miles of congestion. 
  • Washington County – Washington County installed its first red lanes in the summer of 2020 to help reduce delays for riders traveling on Northwest 185th Avenue through the intersection with Cornell Road.