It is the first bus rapid transit system in the Portland region, and has been over a half-decade in the making. The $53 million project was funded with a $38.5 million federal grant, state contributions, and $7.4 million in local funds from C-Tran, using reserve funding after a sales tax increase was defeated at the ballot. Opponents tried to stop the project with a lawsuit, arguing that BRT did not meet the legal requirements of high-capacity transit that was specified in the ballot text. Next City has a nice write-up of the project’s troubles and general history.
The Vine will operate more like Community Transit’s Swift than Metro’s RapidRide, featuring a wider variety of traditional BRT features. Stations are spaced a third of a mile apart, with only 17 pairs on the 6.7 miles from Downtown Vancouver to Vancouver Mall. Platforms are raised to be level with buses, which have three doors for boarding and three interior bicycle racks for roll-on boarding through the back door. Payment is done off-board, with ticket vending machines at all stations; the Portland region’s new Hop Fastpass fare card will debut next year and C-Tran is one of the launch agencies, so integration with The Vine is expected soon. Sections of Fourth Plain Boulevard, where The Vine runs, will have transit signal priority to help speed up bus travel through the corridor by as much as 10 minutes, despite remaining in mixed traffic.
Fourth Plain is currently served by route 4, and formerly by route 44, which will be replaced by The Vine in January. Replacement of the two routes, among the agency’s most popular, is expected to cost less to operate for C-Tran. The two routes also continued to a transfer with the MAX Yellow Line across the river at Delta Park, which will instead be served by a “frequent cross-river shuttle” from Downtown Vancouver.