PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - TriMet will soon be deciding whether to close four Blue and Red MAX Line stops in downtown Portland, and on Wednesday supporters of those stations protested the possible decision.
In September, TriMet announced the possible closures, and said closing the stations could make the trains run faster and shave minutes off riders' commutes.
The stations up for possible closure include:
- Skidmore Fountain Station
- Mall/SW 5th Avenue Station
- Mall/SW 4th Avenue Station
- King Hill/SW Salmon Street Station
Wednesday morning, several dozen impassioned supporters of the Skidmore Station protested before a TriMet Board of Directors meeting.
Protesters outside @trimet meeting this morning. Trimet is considering doing away with some downtown Max stops including the Skidmore Fountain stop. #fox12Oregon @mercycorps pic.twitter.com/zLnp4vNBoe— Marilyn Deutsch (@marilyndeutsch) May 15, 2019
At the meeting, the protesters told the board why they opposed closing the stops, even stops that are only 500 feet apart from one another.
"An extra 500 feet, if we close a stop, may not sound like a lot to you, but it can be a lot to a disabled rider," said one protester.
The Skidmore Fountain Station on Southwest 1st is right near the global headquarters of Mercy Corps.
Mercy Corps says about 15,000 people visit their building every year. In fact, they say they put the building at that location just so people could get there by public transit.
Of their almost 300 employees, Mercy Corps says almost 80 percent take transit daily.
Beth deHamel, Chief Financial Officer with Mercy Corps, says it's not just a convenience issue - it's a safety issue too.
"There have been a number of incidents of safety for people walking a few blocks from our office," said deHamel.
"If there's a concern about safety in the community that really needs to be addressed by police and by the jurisdiction. Transit alone can't solve that issue," said Roberta Altstadt, TriMet spokesperson.
There are also a number of shops and restaurants near the Skidmore stop, and they're concerned about possibly losing business if MAX riders are no longer hopping off there.
"There are lots of businesses and services around that particular stop. Particularly Saturday Market, which happens on the weekend," said Helen Ying, Chair/Co-Chair/President of Old Town Community Association.
For its part, TriMet said there are few riders getting on and off at the four stops. They know eliminating the stops will only shave a few minutes off each downtown MAX ride. Still, they say that will help make MAX more efficient.
If TriMet's Board of Directors decide to shut down the stations, it could happen as early as September 2019.
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