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William’s travels: Visiting the Salem-Keizer Transit Centre

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The Buzzer blog documented the travels of TransLink’s William Hui while he took public transit from Vancouver, British Columbia to Portland, then Salem, Oregon! In the last leg of his travels, William had the opportunity to tour around the Salem-Keizer Transit Centre in Oregon. 

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LEED-quality building for passengers and transit staff.

While I was in Salen, Stephen Dickey, Director of Transportation Development at Cherriots (Salem-Keizer Transit), kindly gave me a tour of their system.

Stephen first showed me around their transit centre downtown. It has the capacity for 20 vehicles, but it was undergoing some rehabilitation when I visited. Hopefully they had the construction done quickly to get the buses back into the facility.

We then went for a quick visit to a maintenance yard, where Stephen showed me the garage, the wash bays as well as their heavy maintenance facilities.

 

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Buses at the transit centre.

Salem- Keizer has a fleet of approximately 100 vehicles, including paratransit and transit specifically for Medicaid.

The service is certainly growing – it is looking into implementing a U-Pass program, as well as a network structure modeled after three C’s: Centers, Corridors (primary frequent service lines), and Circulators (local lines connecting residential and outlying commercial areas to the corridors).

Our final stop was at Salem-Keizer’s newest park and ride, Keizer Transit Center. I was fortunate enough to visit on June 24th, which just happened to be the first day of operations at the state-of-the-art facility.

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Charging stations for electric vehicles.

Currently serviced by four routes, it has the capacity to serve eight. The facility offers 52 park and ride stalls, and is at the forefront of sustainability and innovation.

At the centre of the facility is a building with a waiting area and crew room, outfitted with solar panels, a green roof, and rainwater collection for the rain gardens.

For passengers, there are washrooms, helpful information panels, including schedule information on television screens (real time information to be coming soon), and free WiFi! There are even electric vehicle charging stations.

Congratulations to Stephen and his team on the successful completion of such an amazing facility, and thank you Stephen for taking me around town!

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Stephen Dickey and I at the Salem-Keizer Transit Center

Author: Angela Chang

William’s travels: Debrief and how you can travel from Vancouver to Portland and Salem on public transit

asktranslink-william1
The Buzzer blog is documenting the travels of TransLink’s William Hui while he takes public transit from Vancouver, British Columbia to Portland, then Salem, Oregon!

As promised, I did a quick debrief in the form of an email interview with William after his trip from Vancouver, BC to Portland, then Salem, Washington. Here’s that interview, some photos William took along the way, plus specifics on his schedule and notes for the trip if you want to take the same trip as William!

You originally planned to go from Vancouver to Portland on public transit, but you went further to Salem. Why?

William: I actually wanted to see how far south I could get on transit, so Salem was part of the original plan. If I could have gone further south, I would have. But given that I couldn’t really get further than Salem, I called this the Portland trip since I spent a weekend there anyway and more people can associate with Portland.

Was it hard to organize this trip?

William: Not really. ­As I had mentioned before, others had done parts of the trip before me, so I wasn’t starting from scratch. Google was a big help too. It was a bit frustrating at one point because the website for Twin Transit didn’t work, so I had no idea how to get schedule information, but once I got that, it was fairly straightforward. I should also mention that it took some sleuthing to find out where my transfer points were located. One of the transfer points was Chehalis (Walmart). There’s no cross-street listed, so I had to do some Googling to figure out where this Walmart was, not to mention that I had some apprehension about finding the actual stop. I’ve learned that naming stops using retailers at landmarks is actually common practice in the US.

What was the high point of your trip?

William: Upon reflection, taking the number 40 from Olympia to Elma and knowing the 90 was running that day. Being reassured I wasn’t going to be stuck in Elma while cruising down a beautiful highway was very pleasant.

What was the most challenging aspect of your trip?

William: The most challenging part of my actual trip was the walk across the border. It was pouring rain and I was pretty soaked when I got to Blaine. I ducked into a Library to warm up and dry off. What I had mentioned about the border in the first post didn’t turn out to be bad at all ­ the border guard was very nice and didn’t give me a bad time about what I had said about taking the bus to Portland. The 90 showed up as well, so that didn’t turn out bad. It didn’t have a destination sign on it, so I’m glad I asked the driver if he was driving the 90 route instead of waiting patiently at the transit station.

How was public transit similar or the same on the other side of the border?

William: It was different on different legs since I traveled on small transit systems (Whatcom County and Lower Columbia, for example) and larger transit systems (Sound Transit and TriMet, for example). But in general, I observed that the American transit systems are built to serve park and rides and have very much reduced service on weekends (some don’t service at all). This seems to suggest that their services are built to service commute trips, and not discretionary trips. I also noticed that public art is a really big thing in Oregon. One other thing is that due to the economic situation in the US right now, the federal government has stopped giving grants to transportation agencies, so a lot of passengers were talking about cuts to their services. We’re fortunate in Vancouver that we’re having discussions about how to pay for transit, not what to cut as some communities are forced to do south of the border.

What did your fellow passengers think of your trip?

William: I didn’t end up talking to a whole lot of people since people chose to sleep on the longer runs or talk about cuts to service. Those whom I did talk to didn’t think much of it, although by that time, I had already passed Olympia, so I was much closer to Portland.

Would you do this trip again? Do you have any similar style trips planned in the future?

William: Yes, I would do this trip again. However, one of the routes that was apparently at risk for being cut was the 90 from Elma to Centralia, so there may be a limited window for doing this exact trip again. Since it’s a bus route that only runs Mondays and Fridays (not Mondays to Fridays), the ridership must be quite low, so I can imagine why it is at risk of being cancelled. However, there is talk about extending Twin Transit north to Tumwater, to restore a connection previously provided by Cap Transit, so there is a more direct connection between Olympia and Centralia (I’m not sure about the Rural and Tribal Transit item as they do not seem to have a website).

I do have similar trips planned for the future. I will actually try to investigate if I can go from Salem to Nevada and into California somehow. I had originally tried to get from Salem to Eugene and south to California, but that doesn’t seem to be viable, but if I can go around into Nevada, I can technically go all the way to the US-Mexico border. But I do know one can travel from San Francisco to the US-Mexico border, so I might try that, or a train trip in Europe, or something down the eastern seaboard of the United States.

William’s trip itinerary

Destination                                                         Schedule Link

White Rock translink.ca
White Rock (Marine Drive) translink.ca
Cross border to Blaine
Cordata Station (Bellingham) ridewta.com
Downtown Bellingham ridewta.com
Mount Vernon ridewta.com
Everett skagittransit.org
Seattle soundtransit.org
Tacoma soundtransit.org
Olympia intercitytransit.com
Elma ghtransit.com
Centralia ghtransit.com
Downtown Chehalis twintransit.org
Chehalis (Walmart) twintransit.org
Vancouver (Salmon Creek) lowercolumbiacap.org
Downtown Portland c-tran.com
Barbur Transit Centre (Portland) trimet.org
Wilsonville ridesmart.com
Salem ridesmart.com

 A few notes from William about the itinerary

  • Route 55 from Blaine to Cordata Station: we had to go on a detour as the I-5 was congested.  It made me late for the 331, but having extra time, I took the 232 and made it to Downtown by 3pm and was able to make my next connection.
  • Route 510 from Everett to Seattle: the I-5 was super congested (we sometimes sat in the HOV lane going nowhere fast). I didn’t get to my connection point until 6:45 p.m. or so.  I got on the 590 from Seattle to Tacoma around 6:55 p.m. and arrived by 8:00 p.m. in Tacoma.
  • The 105 from Salmon Creek to Portland was also delayed.  It didn’t come on time, so I got on at around 5:20 p.m. and the driver took a bit of a break at an intermediate park and ride, but somehow still made it to Downtown Portland by 6.
  • The Chehalis – Longview link will be broken as of July 1, meaning a possibly longer coastal route via Pacific County, Astoria and Tillamook.

We might have some more info on the blog about William’s time spent in Salem in the not-too-distant future.

We would love to find out if anyone else has done or is planning to do the same or similar route on public transit. Leave a comment here, and tell us all about it!

 

 

William’s Travels: William completes his trip from Vancouver to Portland and Salem, Oregon on public transit!

asktranslink-william1
The Buzzer blog is documenting the travels of TransLink’s William Hui while he takes public transit from Vancouver, British Columbia to Portland, then Salem, Oregon!


View William’s Travels: Vancouver to Portland and Salem on public transit in 2013 in a larger map

William’s journey was a success! Not only did he get to Portland via public transit, he got as far as Salem, Oregon!

As mentioned in the last update, William took the Amtrak home. He said the train ride was fun, especially since the rail line weaves back and forth with the I5, so he passed a lot of familiar places – places he had passed on his ride down on the bus.

Here's a photo of the schedules and tickets I've amassed on this trip. My bag definitely got progressively heavier as I got closer to Portland. - William

Here’s a photo of the schedules and tickets I’ve amassed on this trip. My bag definitely got progressively heavier as I got closer to Portland. – William

William’s journey on Twitter #yvrtopdx!

It’s been fantastic for people to follow William’s updates on @thebuzzer on Twitter and the #yvrtopdx hashtag. I know William appreciated the support and the enthusiasm for his passion of all things transit!

 

 

 

Now that he’s had a day back in Canada, I’m gathering specifics on William’s travel schedule as well as his perspectives on the trip in general to share with all of you. Stay tuned!

 

William’s Travels: #yvrtopdx Vancouver to Portland then Salem on public transit!

asktranslink-william1The Buzzer blog is documenting the travels of TransLink’s William Hui while he takes public transit from Vancouver, British Columbia to Portland, then Salem, Oregon!

In case you don’t know yet, William Hui, System’s Engineer for TransLink, has embarked on a journey from Vancouver, BC to Portland Oregon and beyond all on public transit!

William has been texting the Buzzer editors with updates along the way. The latest news is that he’s in Chehalis, Washington. William still plans on reaching Portland by 6 p.m. tonight!

We’ve been tweeting his updates via the Buzzer blog Twitter handle @thebuzzer with the hashtag #yvrtopdx. It’s great to see people take part in William’s journey!

See William’s trip on Google Maps!

William sent his coordinates from Tacoma last night so we could generate this Google Map at right. “There are waypoints in the track that show where I transferred to different buses. I did, however, miss the two transfers to Sound Transit: one at Everett and the other in Seattle (510 and 590) respectively.”

View William’s Travels: Vancouver to Portland on public transit in 2013 in a larger map. William says he’ll update it shortly!

William continues his journey past Portland to Salem, Oregon!

William has decided to visit the good people at Charriots, Salem-Keizer Transit after he arrives and spends the weekend in Portland.

Yup, he’s going roughly another 75 km south on public transit! He’ll be making the trip to Salem early Monday morning.

William will be taking the Amtrak Cascades train all the way back to Vancouver arriving around 9 p.m. Monday night.

He’d take public transit all the way back, but William has to work!

What does it cost to go from Vancouver to Portland then Salem on public transit?

The cost is $27.50 to Portland and another $4.50 to Salem!

Of note is that all this time on public transit is on William’s time, not TransLink’s. William thinks of this as a transit vacation!

We’ll continue to update everyone of William’s progress to Portland and Salem via @thebuzzer and here on the blog next week.

Follow the hashtag #yvrtopdx on Twitter and join in the conversation! William is even taking the odd the question when he has time.

William’s Travels: Vancouver to Portland on public transit

asktranslink-william1

Over the next few days, the Buzzer blog will be documenting the travels of TransLink’s William Hui while he takes public transit from Vancouver, British Columbia to Portland, Oregon!

William is ready for his adventure!

William is ready for his adventure!

Many of us in Metro Vancouver have visited Portland before. The mode of choice for this journey is usually car, train, intercity private bus, plane or boat. But is it possible to take public transit all the way? This is a question TransLink systems engineer William Hui said he wanted to answer when he told me about his plan over a year ago.

Tomorrow morning, William’s idea becomes a reality. He’ll start his journey Thursday in Vancouver on a Coast Mountain Bus and will hopefully alight a C-Tran bus in Portland, Oregon around 6 p.m. on Friday.

Before he set off on this historic trip, I thought I’d ask him a few questions.

Why do you want to take public transit from Vancouver to Portland?

I’m a bit of a transit geek (and that’s putting it lightly), and I thought it would be a cool thing to do.

Most people drive, some people take the train or a plane, but taking city buses all the way down is not something you hear about often, and I thought it would be a neat adventure.

The first part of my trip will be to Portland, but just to get as far south as I can, I’m going to Salem before coming back to Vancouver.

Where did you get the idea?

I think someone sent me a blog post of someone going between Seattle and Vancouver. I wondered to myself how far south I could actually get using public transit alone.

How long have you been preparing to do this?

I hatched the idea last summer, but I didn’t start seriously planning the trip until this spring.

Tell me about the planning process. How did you line up schedules and figure it all out?

A rough sketch of William's trip which he plans on doing completely on public transit (with a little walking as well)

A rough sketch of William’s trip which he plans on doing completely on public transit (with a little walking as well)

In truth, Google did the leg work. Believe it or not, there are other transit enthusiasts out there who have looked into this. Here’s a link to taking public transit from Vancouver to Seattle, Seattle to Vancouver and Seattle to Portland.

Some of the information is a bit dated, but once I got the general idea, I basically just went online: I went to Whatcom Transit (the service in Blaine) and saw how far south that would take me. Then I saw what services were available at that point and repeated the process until I got to Portland.

How long will it take?

Nine hours from Bridgeport to Tacoma. Ten hours from Tacoma to Portland (with a 2-hour stopover in Chehalis). Two hours from Portland to Salem. So, about 20 hours of travel time, but it can’t be done continuously from one end to another due to bus scheduling.

How are you going to spend your time waiting for the next bus? Are you bringing a good book with you?

I’m actually going to do some exploring at my layovers. One neat thing about this trip is that I’m going to be stopping at places where most people wouldn’t think to stop if they were driving.

For example, when people go to Bellingham, they go to Bellis Fair or the Costco, but how many have visited Downtown Bellingham (they’re not the same place!)? I’m also looking forward to spending some time in Alma, Chehalis/Centralia.

Will you have any time to enjoy Portland and your stops in between?

Yes, I’ll be spending the weekend in Portland, and in addition to what I mentioned above, I’ll have some time to check out the Link in Tacoma.

What do you think will be the most challenging part of your journey?

Two parts of my journey are a bit challenging: the border and the bus between Elma and Centralia. I’ll have to walk across the border, and I can just imagine the raised eyebrows I’m going to get when I tell them where I’m going and how I’m getting there.

Secondly, the bus from Elma and Centralia runs only Monday and Fridays – not Mondays to Fridays, but only two days of the week. It also runs only 3 times during those days, so if it doesn’t show up, I might have some trouble getting to Portland.

Are you excited?

Very much so. I’m looking forward to riding buses across 11 different transit systems and just seeing what’s off the beaten path.

William will be communicating with us along the way, and we’ll update the blog on his progress as well as feature his thoughts on the trip after it’s all done. We’ll also be tweeting his progress on Twitter, so you’ll want to follow his progress at @thebuzzer.

We wish William the best of luck on his trip!