Vendors at the Portland Saturday Market and other downtown residents and business owners are publicly objecting to TriMet's plan to close four downtown MAX stations.
Last September, as part of a large-scale effort to speed up transit service, TriMet announced plans to close four downtown MAX Stations between Goose Hollow and Old Town—at Kings Hill and SW Salmon Street, Mall and Southwest 4th Avenue, Mall and Southwest 5th Avenue and the Skidmore Fountain.
The agency says the closures will shave two minutes off Red and Blue Line commutes.
"It takes far too long to get through downtown here," TriMet general manager Doug Kelsey told WW this month. "We need to speed the systems up so it takes less time to get to where you want to go on your terms. We need to keep MAX moving, and move it faster."
Vendors at the Portland Saturday Market and other downtown residents and business owners disagree. They say that closing stations, specifically at the Skidmore Fountain, which is near the entrance to the Saturday Market, and Kings Hill, which straddles the Multnomah County Athletic Club and Lincoln High School, is "unnecessary and unjustified."
"Cutting service will not result in noticeable time savings for the average commuter," a statement from Portland Saturday Market reads. "Each station closure saves perhaps 30 seconds but closures impact businesses, students, employees, the elderly and people who are disabled."
Howie Bierbaum, Saturday Market's executive director, says that the station closures threaten the 46-year-old business and its 250 vendors.
Helen Ying, president of the Old Town Chinatown Neighborhood Association, Tracy Prince, president of the Goose Hollow Foothills League, Lincoln High School students and other downtown residents plan to join Saturday Market managers in speaking out against the station closures tomorrow.
According to today's statement, opponents do not take issue with station closures at Southwest 4th and 5th Avenues.
"Eliminating the proposed SW 4th and 5th Ave stops makes sense given its location," the statement reads. "TriMet should initially see how much time savings are gained with the elimination of these stops before attempting to shutter other MAX stations."
TriMet spokeswoman Altstadt says not decision has been made about the closures, and that "nothing is final until the TriMet Board of Directors makes a decision."
In her Sep. 5 release, she writes that a Title VI equity review of the closures found "no adverse impact on minority or low-income populations […] due to the short distance to nearby stations."
In a recent interview with WW, Kelsey defended the station-closure plan as sensible.
"Walking is not a bad thing," he said. "It's actually healthy. And so if you look at other systems, you walk for many, many, many blocks to get to a train station. This one is literally four train-car lengths, not even. You can literally see the trains at the next light."
Members of the Portland Saturday Market and the Goose Hollow Foothills League plan to meet at the Skidmore Fountain MAX platform at 10 am tomorrow to protest.