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Washington Park's free shuttle carried over 120,000 riders in 2016

Ridership increased 40% since start of shuttle service

POSTED FEBRUARY 8, 2017

(Portland, OR) –

Explore Washington Park shuttles carried more than 120,000 visitors through Portland’s iconic Washington Park in 2016. This 40% increase in ridership from the previous year have helped a 31% increase in mass transit ridership, an 18% decrease in vehicle trips, and a significant decrease -estimated at more than 600 tons - of greenhouse gas emissions from cars visiting Washington Park, since 2014. Shuttle riders helped save enough driving miles saved to tally five trips from the earth to the moon.

The FREE Explore Washington Park shuttle runs throughout the park during the peak warm-weather visitor season.

Photo: The FREE Explore Washington Park shuttle runs throughout the park during the peak warm-weather visitor season.

Explore Washington Park started providing the free seasonal service to park visitors in 2015 in partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation, and to date has provided park visitors with 220,000 free shuttle rides and 90,000 customer service interactions.  The shuttle is part of a suite of new programs, maintenance endeavors, and safety improvements in Washington Park that are paid for exclusively with Washington Park’s parking revenue.

“These are impressive numbers,” says Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “The shuttle means it is easier than ever to get around Washington Park, and that the park hosts thousands fewer cars than it used to.  This is just one more way we’re working to create a wonderful experience for visitors to Washington Park.”

Washington Park is home to some of Portland’s most popular attractions, including the Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum, World Forestry Center, Hoyt Arboretum, Portland Japanese Garden, and International Rose Test Garden. The popularity of the park continues to grow – with an overall attendance increase of 8% over the past three years, currently estimated at 3.2 million visitors annually.

The shuttle and park improvements are made possible by the modest $1.60 per hour parking fee at Washington Park, by promoting alternative travel options, and actively managing parking.  

All parking proceeds are reinvested in improvements in and around the park, including:

  • Better maintenance and security
  • The free park-wide shuttle service
  • Improved safety for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and disabled visitors (for example: better signs, barrier-free sidewalks, and crosswalks)
  • A new Washington Park Master Plan, established via community engagement

“Washington Park is a crown jewel in our system,” says Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbaté. “And Explore Washington Park is an innovative collaboration which helps steward these much-needed improvements. Because of this new system, we were able to begin the new Washington Park Master Planning process, which will improve and guide the park and its vision for the coming decades.  Thanks to all who are a part of this important and admirable work.”

Improvements to date, all made possible by paid parking revenue, include new paving on cracked and potholed park roads, new traffic and directional signs, a new crosswalk with flashing lights at a critical crossing by the Portland Children’s Museum, repainted parking space numbers, the shuttle, the Explore Washington Park website, and Customer Service staff to provide information to park visitors in peak season.

“The Explore Washington Park Board is proud of its accomplishments over the past several years and is pleased to be working with the community, making investments designed to improve the experience of visitors.”  - Eric Vines, World Forestry Center, Executive Director.

About Explore Washington Park

Explore Washington Park started operating as a 501c3 in partnership with Portland PP&R in January 2014 to provide transportation management and information services to people visiting Washington Park – including the Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum, World Forestry Center, Hoyt Arboretum, Portland Japanese Garden, and International Rose Test Garden – with the goal of increasing access and visitor satisfaction. EWP operations are primarily funded through paid parking revenues.

About Washington Park

Whether you are seeking excitement or tranquility, Washington Park is the place for you and your family. With over 400 acres of trees, gardens, attractions, playgrounds and 15 miles of trails, Washington Park is an oasis of green space just minutes from downtown Portland. An estimated 3.2 million people visit Washington Park each year.

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