Tag Archives: portland

Corvallis: State of Inter-City Mass Transit

Every now and then, I like to assess the state of inter-city mass transit for those of us living in Corvallis.  First my rules:

  • Only fixed-route, public transportation.  That is, vanpools are out.
  • Only methods that are cheaper than driving (using $0.75/mile as the true cost of driving not counting environmental and social costs).  Using the Valley Retriever to get to Philomath or Albany is out.
  • Only methods that take at most twice as long as driving; the time of people taking public transit should be as valuable as motorists — I will allow for slightly slower as riding the bus or train is not necessarily lost.  So, getting to Albany by transferring at LBCC is out (since connection time makes it 1.5 hours).
  • Use downtown transit centers as the destinations.  This drops the Hut Shuttle out of connection as it would take nearly 4 hours to get to downtown Portland after connecting to the MAX.
  • Biking and driving options are included for a point of comparison.
  • Prices vary according to how late you buy your ticket; I assumed buying a ticket last minute, and so used the most expensive price.

In summary, there are 11 trips daily to Philomath, 6 to Salem, 6 to Portland and 4 to Eugene.  If we discount Greyhound due to its extreme unreliability, the last three numbers go down by 3.  If you are willing to bike to Albany to connect to Amtrak or Bolt Bus, then there are 8 additional nice trips to Salem and Portland; I don’t really think this is reasonable since I don’t think we should ask the average person to bike 12 miles to connect to public transportation.  Note that 7 of the Philomath trips take the same amount of time as biking.  More details are in this spreadsheet:

Connecting in Albany to get to Eugene was not at all competitive with driving and almost comparable to biking.  In fact, I propose a race: biking to Eugene vs. public transportation.  How embarrassing.

Bus or train between Corvallis and Portland (and other cities)

I had noticed that every day someone reaches my site by the search terms “bus from Portland to Corvallis” or similar.  Roughly 3 people a day.  Every day.  And what post are they directed to?  The somewhat ridiculous post describing a trip from Portland to Corvallis by a melange of light rail, city bus and inter-city commuter bus that involves 12 miles of biking and costs only $5.80.  It is the most popular post, dwarfing the readership of any other post by a factor of 10.  But public transportation is a serious issue, and I would like to help out those people that are directed to my site. Continue reading

Portland to Corvallis for $6.80 and 12 miles of riding

Update: To see a more serious list of options for public transportation between Corvallis and Portland (and Albany, Salem, Eugene and Newport), see this newer post.

Coming back from Portland after a short bicycle tour, we wanted to make it to Corvallis in time to put a little work in on a Monday afternoon.  Amtrak does make travelling with your bike very easy on the Cascades line, but the busses that they run on the line only have one bike-spot-per-bus, making travelling as a duo problematic.  The trains, with a cushier (although still reservation-worthy, especially in the summer) 6 spots per train, don’t depart Portland until 3PM.  And you’re still faced with a 12 mile ride from Albany to Corvallis.  And this costs roughly $24 (including the $5 bike fee).  Or, you could take the Linn-Benton Loop, with 3 spots for bikes on the front rack, for $1.25.

Or, like we perhaps ill-advisedly did, you could do this for as little as $6.80 and 12 miles of riding.

  • TriMet bus from Portland to Tigard Transit Center, $2.35
  • WES train from Tigard Transit Center to Wilsonville, free with above transfer
  • Cherriots bus from Wilsonville to Salem, $2.50
  • CARTS bus from Salem to Monroe Monmouth, $2
  • bike from Monroe to Adair Village, free
  • Benton Country Rural Transit from Adair Village to Corvallis, $0.75
All of the above busses have front-bike racks, with 2 or 3 spots.  We actually opted to disembark the CARTS bus in Independence and take a longer but more scenic bike ride to Corvallis.  We spent $5.85, enjoyed a delicious 2hr breakfast break in Salem, biked 20 miles, woke up in Portland at 5AM and were home and showered by noon.   One could imagine forgoing breakfast in Salem and the bus from Salem to Independence or Monroe and biking from Salem to Corvallis (~35 miles) and complete the trip in 4 hrs.
Admittedly not so speedy as by personal vehicle.  The other car-free options are speedier.  Amtrak to Albany plus biking or bussing into Corvallis (which, because of connections, are at best equivalent, but often in favor of biking) takes roughly 2.5 hrs.  This time is competitive with the infrequent busses (Greyhound, Valley Retriever) that connect to Corvallis, and, I would argue, competitive with the 1.75 hrs driving time.  Not only are you able to sit back and relax on the train – read a book, do some work – but you also benefit from a healthy 12 mile bike ride.  No gym membership required.

Bicycling from Corvallis to Portland

A few days ago, despite a badly bruised (fractured?) rib, I biked with my partner from Corvallis to Portland.  We stuck to scenic country roads as much as possible, so our route was not the most direct – 80 miles became 110 as a result, making this the longest bike ride either of us had been on (in a single day).  I expected the ride to not be so bad, but to be in for a world of pain the next couple of days.  Other than my bruised rib, we both felt fine (but tired) the next day.  The ride itself was harder than expected, though – even though we’d been on 70 mile rides before.  It was quite hot and stopping for a few hours in the middle of the day was not a great option, since the ride (including regular breaks) already took nearly 12 hours.  We swapped a single set of paniers (carrying food, clothes for two days and some work) back and forth, which I would recommend if possible – it made for a nice break, both weight- and wind-wise.

Much of our trip ran along the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway (consisting of designated country and city roads).  Although the bikeway is signposted, in preparation, I mapped out our route on Bikely and imported the resulting gpx file using Trails on my smart phone.  I was glad for it, as we twice missed turns and were not clear on where to go several other times.  Since there is no room left on my handlebars for a smartphone mount (due to such safety items as light, bell and “oh shit” brakes*), the gps was relegated to a panier, which meant more frequent and longer than otherwise desired stops.  Remember, cyclists don’t have passenger seats and dashboards for maps and gps units.  Signs were not ideally placed for a cyclist.  Each turn was marked with at most one small sign, thankfully at eye level, but directly at the turn, and sometimes on the other side of an intersection, resulting in short stops and loss of otherwise maintainable speed.  Which, over 110 miles, makes a difference.  While I am very thankful for bike infrastructure (living in Oregon is a North American cyclist’s dream), I wonder how often bike routes are tested by cyclists under normal conditions.  Simply moving the signs back 10 or 20 meters could make a world of difference. Even better would be doubling up signs along the route.  But that would cost money.

We took the train back to Albany from Portland – biking the 12.5 miles from the train station to Corvallis.  One great thing about biking 110 miles is that 12.5 miles feels like nothing.

Thanks to everyone who provided us with water along the way.  No thanks to the person in Oregon City, who upon my legally crossing at a 4-way stop nearly t-boned me and yelled “Get off the fucking road” with his two children sitting in the back of his car.  Remember: bicycles legally are vehicles and have a right to use non-Interstate roads.

* An extra set of inline brake levers at the top of drop bars, excellent for emergencies and long descents.

(This post is backdated, moved from glencora.org to carfreecorvallis.com)