Commissioner Novick – Move Bolt Bus

Without facilities, trash piles up on the street

This email to Portland’s Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick is reprinted with the author’s permission.

For more on the Bolt Bus stop’s negative impact see: Bolt Bus – It’s a Park, Not Your Bus Depot


From: Stan Penkin
Date: Thursday, July 7, 2016 at 5:20 PM
To: ‘Commissioner Novick’ <novick@portlandoregon.gov>
Subject: Safety Issue

Hi Steve,

I hope that all is well with you and that your campaign is going well.

Although I know that letters of concern have been sent by various individuals and organizations regarding a safety/livability issue, I want to personally direct your attention to this concern, rather than as a board member of Friendly Streets and of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association.

As you may be aware, the Bolt Bus stop previously located downtown on Salmon St. was relocated several months ago to NW Everett St. between Park and Broadway. This was of immediate concern to local residents as they experienced a dangerous back up of traffic, cars maneuvering and double parked for drop off and pick up, idling busses creating noise and pollution, trash strewn on the street, people milling about in doorways and an overall disruption of normal life. Minimal mitigation was achieved over the idling issue via direct contact with the company’s representative, but all the other issues remain and will be further exacerbated by the placement of a bikeshare station at the corner of Everett and Park immediately adjacent to the stop.

Although I live several blocks away, during my neighborhood walks I have often seen as many as three busses backed up, cars double parked, cars and Trimet busses trying to maneuver around the Bolt busses and double parked cars, not to mention the trash left behind. Now with a large number of bikes added to the mix, this is a disaster waiting to happen.

While I understand that this location is designated as such and assume that Bolt Bus (owned by Greyhound) has whatever permits might be necessary (perhaps a bad assumption), I cannot believe the designation of this location as a bus stop was intended to create such a dangerous and hazardous situation. This is a serious safety and livability concern, not only for the neighborhood, but for all those who drive, bike and walk through this busy street in the heart of the Pearl.

I am asking that you please look into this matter with a view towards an expedient solution to remove this as a private bus location. I and others would be happy to meet with you at the location so that you may see the problem first hand.

Many thanks for your attention to this concern and I look forward to hearing back from you.

With best wishes,

Stan Penkin

Bolt Bus – It’s A Park, Not Your Bus Depot

Without facilities, trash piles up on the street
Without facilities, Bolt trash piles up on the street. Passengers ask nearby businesses to use bathrooms.

Bolt Bus, a subsidiary of Greyhound likes to market itself as the hip, low-cost future of bus travel. Earlier this year, Bolt moved into the North Park Block without warning. Rather than use their nearby Greyhound bus station (at NW 6th and Hoyt) Bolt turned the corner of NW Everett and 8th into a bus terminal without concern for it’s impact on the the park or neighborhood. We first  in February. See Terminal Chaos Forces Bolt Bus To Street Corner

Bolt passengers block sidewalk
Bolt passengers block sidewalk

To update the situation, here’s a reprint of a letter from Pearl District Neighborhood Association. 822KB pdf


April 19, 2016
Re: Bolt Bus
Dear Mayor Hales and Commissioner Novick,

The Pearl District Neighborhood Association (PDNA) brings forward the following Livability & Safety concerns regarding the Bolt Bus stop/depot that moved from SW Salmon St. to NW Everett St. at 8th Avenue; without any prior communication to the neighborhood. The Bolt Bus move to this block has had an immediate and negative impact on those living and working here.

Bolt riders forced sit on the sidewalk
Bolt riders forced sit on the sidewalk

We do not understand why Bolt would use a city street for a depot as there are no services commonly associated with a commuter bus terminal. Bolt Bus provides a coach service to destinations as far as Vancouver BC. Their customers travel with luggage – which necessitates being dropped off or picked up by car or taxi. Buses queue all day long, starting with the 6:30 AM pickup – which results in increased traffic starting sometime after 6AM and throughout the day. The Bolt Bus’s last drop off is scheduled for 10PM, although with delays their buses do sometime arrive much later. The increase in traffic is undeniable. The noise from the idling cars, the greetings and farewells, the honking of frustrated drivers who cannot proceed on Everett or surrounding streets due to double parking is ever present.

Bolt Bus drop offs block traffic
Bolt Bus drop offs block traffic

Livability Issues:

  • Noise from the buses; including idling and wheelchair ramp engagement.
  • Pollution from the buses.
  • Littering from Bolt Bus customers due to the fact there are no trash receptacles
  • Cigarette butts thrown on the sidewalk and ground cover of the WeWork (Custom House) building as there is no butt disposal container.
  • Illegal congregation of Bolt Bus customers under the private property doorway of the previous Remedy Wine Bar (also an egress into/out of the North Park Lofts building for residents); as Bolt Bus customers attempt to get out of the rain, wind, cold, heat, etc.
  • For residents of the North Park Blocks building; especially those on the corner of 8th and Everett, there is a materially negative impact on the livability of their homes; and most likely the property values as well. Residents are unable to open their windows due to the noise and exhaust.
Idling Bolt buses block street crossing
Idling Bolt buses block crosswalk

Safety Issues:

  • Traffic congestion as the stop is in a lane of traffic on an already busy street (Everett).
  • Illegal parking of cars picking up and dropping off Bolt Bus customers.
  • Concerns for the safety of Bolt Bus customers and drivers at the North Park Lofts building garage entrance/exit. Bolt Bus customers congregate under the roof of the garage door to get out of the rain, wind, cold, heat, etc. This is particularly concerning as this exit is a downhill slope from the parking garage which makes visibility poor; a risk for drivers and Bolt Bus customers.
  • Cars are parked illegally, backing up a lane of traffic (which also has two pedestrian crossings) on Everett between 8th and Park; as they drop off or pick up Bolt Bus customers.
  • Buses stack up down Everett as Bolt uses Cascade and Northwest Point and other bus company’s buses when demand exceeds Bolt Bus capacity.
  • The right lane of traffic on Everett is impassable when Bolt Buses drop off or pick up passengers; creating traffic back-ups that extend into the pedestrian walkways.
  • There is no presence of traffic officers ticketing illegal parking in a lane of traffic on Everett nor are there parking officers to ticket drivers who are not paying for parking as they are dropping off/picking up Bolt Bus customers.
Blocked sidewalks and illegal dropoffs
Blocked sidewalks and illegal drop-offs

This bus depot should be relocated to Union Station which has a facility with seating, bathrooms, concessions, garbage receptacles, etc. or to a parking lot where at least the traffic concerns would be addressed or use the bus depot on NW 6th and Glisan.

Please advise as to next steps to work towards a resolution in this matter.

Sincerely,

Patricia Gardner
President, Pearl District Neighborhood Association

Bus passengers trample plantings to get out of rain
Bus passengers trample plantings to get out of rain

Terminal Chaos Forces Bolt Bus To Street Corner

Bolt bus depot

Dear Mayor Hales and City Commissioners,

I know that some other residents of my building (The North Park Lofts at 300 NW 8th Ave.) have written complaining about the Bolt Bus “stop” (read: depot) that has been moved from SW Salmon St. to NW Everett St. at 8th Ave.  I won’t add to the litany of complaints but suffice it to say that the noise pollution, traffic congestion, illegal parking, litter, etc. from this has had a materially negative impact on the livability of our homes.  And most likely the property values as well.

I met with Joe Darden, Senior Operations Manager of Bolt Bus, yesterday to get their side of the story and to share our concerns with him.  I met him at the Greyhound bus terminal on NW 6th Ave. and it was evident immediately why he would want to use a city street as a depot rather than the modern facility they own; a facility with seating, bathrooms, concessions, garbage receptacles, etc. that was completely deserted and in lockdown at 2pm.  Outside were probably 25-30 presumably homeless people who had taken over the sidewalk and mall surrounding the terminal.  I am a 6’1”, 195lb. man and it was very uncomfortable for me to walk the length of the terminal.  I was twice asked if I was “looking” and one man glared and spit at me.  I cannot imagine a woman, an elderly person, a family, or anyone really who would feel safe going near the terminal.

Joe is a very reasonable man who was sympathetic to our concerns.  He agreed to implement a no-idling policy which, although less than 24 hours in effect, has already made a big difference in the noise.  I didn’t even bother asking him the question why Bolt would use a city street for a depot, with all the attendant issues that creates, because it was painfully obvious that the terminal has been rendered virtually unusable.  His frustration with the situation was palpable, and as someone who endured the similar and horrible situation on the North Park Blocks last summer, I shared his frustration.

When will this City Council do something concrete and meaningful about this?  This is not a Bolt Bus problem, it’s a city-wide livability problem.  The “temporary” moratorium on enforcing the no-camping ordinance is only going to make matters worse. Perhaps we could take a “temporary” time-out from creating bike lanes, couplets, and extending the Streetcar and Max lines to seriously address this.  If the city’s scarce financial resources could be redirected to create one or two permanent camps/shelters with concentrated services and drop-off/triage centers for the police, then maybe the city could find the spine to enforce our laws and make the city inhabitable for tax-paying residents.  The PBA and downtown business owners would no doubt enthusiastically support this and possibly contribute financially.  Even groups like Mercy Corps and Medical Teams International might be willing to offer help in addressing what amounts to a humanitarian crisis in their own backyard.

I know that homelessness is not a crime, and my heart goes out to those who are in that condition through no fault of their own, but what has happened to the once-fair city I grew up in and have lived in for nearly 60 years is a crime.  Doing nothing is not compassion and only enables, nay exacerbates, a tragic problem for all of us.  Thank you for listening and I look forward to your response.

Eric Stromquist
North Park Lofts