PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Leaders at the Portland Saturday Market and other downtown businesses are rallying against the proposed closure of 4 MAX stops in Southwest Portland.
TriMet is considering closing the downtown stations to shave 2 minutes off the downtown commute. One of the stops, the Skidmore Fountain stop, serves the Portland Saturday Market.
The other stops under closure consideration are Kings Hill/SW Salmon Street Station, the Mall/SW 4th Ave Station and the Mall/SW 5th Ave Station.
If TriMet does close the stops — which would need approval from their Board of Directors — they would close in September 2019. Until that time, TriMet is accepting user feedback.
“TriMet claims closing 4 downtown stops will save 2 minutes of travel time. This will have no measurable impact on long distance travel times from the east to the west side,” said Howie Bierbaum, the Acting Executive Director of Portland Saturday Market.
“This supposed time savings is laughable and also sets a dangerous precedent,” Bierbaum said. “The logical assumption is these will be the first of what will be further cuts to MAX stops in an effort to speed up MAX.”
Bierbaum said the Skidmore MAX stop is the 2nd-busiest MAX stop on weekends. He noted the Portland Saturday Market is “one of the top tourist destinations” and serves thousands of locals every week.
“Nike and Intel pay millions in TriMet taxes and deserve better service,” he said. “But TriMet’s superficial solution to speeding up MAX should not pit corporate interests against the 250 small businesses that make up the Saturday Market.”
“This definitely affects my business,” said vendor Erik Swenson. “My customers use the MAX to come down to the Portland Saturday Market and find my products for sale and support my business. They absolutely depend on stops like the Skidmore stop.”
And it isn’t just the businesses of Saturday Market that would be affected. “It’s nearby non-profits, schools and businesses. It should also not impact the students and residents of Goose Hollow.”
Instead, he suggested, TriMet should focus on “safety and cleanliness, a priority that impacts all riders.”
Bierbaum spoke to a group of supporters at Skidmore Station, including Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale and Helen Ying, who is the chair of the Old Town Community Association.
She shared a story about a neighbor in a wheelchair who doesn’t want the Skidmore Fountain station to close because it would limit how she can get around.
“We urge TriMet not to close this station,” Ying said. “We want to let TriMet know, along with the University of Portland, Salvation Army, Portland Saturday Market and many other businesses and residents in our neighborhood that we don’t want this MAX station closed.”
Howie Bierbaum said the Portland Saturday Market opens its 46th season on March 2.
“I hope next year,” he said, “we will have a Skidmore Fountain MAX stop that can continue to serve our diverse customer base, including people with disabilities and the elderly for whom walking an additional 900 feet is truly a hardship.”