The ConnectOregon program invested in the Pioneer Parkway Bus Rapid Transit project, a significant expansion of Lane Transit District’s new EmX line, which connects the rest of the region to a new hospital and the single largest cluster of hotels between Portland and San Francisco—a key part of the region’s tourism industry.
The EmX system is composed of high-frequency, fast bus service along major corridors that emulates the speed, comfort and convenience of rail systems, as well as smaller buses providing access from neighborhoods to the EmX lines and nearby shopping and employment facilities. The EmX buses are noted for their low operational costs and low energy use, providing many of the advantages of light rail at a lower cost to build.
Lane Transit District used the $5.4 million ConnectOregon grant and its own $2.9 million match to leverage $33 million in federal funding.
ConnectOregon funding helped construct a six-mile corridor that connects existing EmX service in downtown Eugene to the downtown Springfield Station, the Gateway Mall, the Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, and the rapidly-growing area of north Springfield.
The $41.3 million project began construction in 2009. It was the district’s second EmX service expansion, following eight stations opened in 2007. The Pioneer Parkway Bus Rapid Transit project built 13 new stations along the corridor, a new transit station in front of The Shoppes at Gateway, and exclusive transit lanes that reduce congestion and the demand for parking while increasing mobility for freight and deliveries.
“This investment is all about accessibility and connecting this economic growth center to the rest of the region,” says Tom Schwetz, director of planning and development at Lane Transit District. “Approximately 30,000 people now have access to 23,000 jobs via high-frequency transit as a result.”