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"There It Is, Take It!"
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Portland, OR, USA Rail Transit

Last month I spent a week's vacation in Portland, Oregon, USA. Fascinating city! They have a 20-year old light rail system called MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) with three lines (Blue, Red and Yellow) and one currently under construction. The transit system in Portland is called Tri-Met; referring to the three counties (Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas) that make up the Portland Metropolitan area.

Its Blue Line runs from the eastern suburb of Gresham to Downtown Portland to the western suburb of Hilsboro. The Red Line runs in the trunk of the Blue Line trackage, from Beaverton in the west to Downtown to Portland International Airport in the northeast side of town. The Yellow Line runs from Downtown to "Expo Center" which is right on the Columbia River across from Washington state.



MAX's Red Line is amazing; the airport station is literally yards from the baggage carousels! Perhaps the most convenient airport transit I've ever used. Here is the train that picked me up from the airport.


After a transfer to the Blue Line, I took another train to my hotel on 181st Avenue in suburban Gresham (hotel rates are cheaper). Best of all, the hotel was literally yards from the MAX station!


Portland's MAX even goes to Hollywood! Portland's Hollywood District, that is! As you can see, like my Hollywood (CA), it's served by the Red Line, it has a "Hollywood Bowl" (a bowling alley actually :)), a theatre and a Rite-Aid...and to make things even more at home there's a Trader Joe's there too!


Here's a MAX TVM. They have three zones and various fares for those zones, maximum is $2 for unlimited travel within two hours. There's also a "Fareless Square" in Downtown Portland where all buses and trains are free. I bought a daypass for $4.25. Interesting to note, in the P.C. Portland TVMs, the elderly are called "Honored Citizens" (lol...even the cranky, senile ones?).


Portland's Tri-Met system is innovative in that it has a "transit Tracker" number where one can call an automated phone line, enter the ID number of their station and get real-time arrival notices of the next few bus or trains arriving! You can even call the number yourself with your cellphone to see how it really works!


Here's what the MAX LRVs look like inside. They have two generations of LRVs, the first one made by Bombardier, the second one, a low-floor model, made by Siemens, which are identical to the Houston low-floor cars. The third-generation cars, to be used on the new lines, are basically the same as the streamlined Houston low-floor Siemens cars. All LRVs have lowered skirting that conceals the wheels, giving it the impression it's floating on air.

All MAX LRVs have automated recorded station stop calls in English and Spanish. Stations have both inside and outside platforms, and when the trains approach and notifies the passengers where to exit, the train addresses the passengers as if it is talking to them - "Old Town/Chinatown station. Doors to my right."


The line is all double-tracked, but there is a short single-track segment ridging the Red Line tracks to the main line. The alignment also runs in the center of the I-205 and off to the side of the I-84 freeways.


MAX also travels underground, underneath Washington Park. Here is MAX's only "subway" station, some 300+ feet below the surface.
There are four large elevators that take passengers up to the surface.


On weekends. the area around the Skidmore Fountain station host the Portland Saturday Market, a farmer's market like environment where arts and crafts are sold rather than produce. There are also some excellent food booths and live music entertainment here.


The Portland Streetcar is not part of MAX but instead is a separate system run by a non-profit board. The trains are run by Tri-Met operators and they do honor all Tri-Met tickets and passes. The stations of the Portland Streetcar are all sponsored by institutions or private businesses that serve that station. Even the sponsorships are announced in the stop calls. The streetcar runs in the Downtown area from the hip Nob Hill district, through the upscale Pearl District, criss-crossing MAX in Downtown, through Portland State University (there's a stop right outside the Urban Planning school, how cool is that?) and ends at Oregon Health Sciences University's aerial tram station, which takes people up the hill to OHSU's hospital and campus.


Here's the inside of the Portland Streetcar.

Aside from MAX, Portland has some excellent bikeways and bike lanes, it's the most bike-friendly city in the country. People look at you funny there if you ride your bike on the sidewalk!
 

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Awesome pics :)

QQ: How would you rate the performance of it in the downtown compared to the suburbs???
 

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So, what was your overall impression of Portland, beyond MAX? And have you been to Seattle, and how would you compare?
 

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"There It Is, Take It!"
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So, what was your overall impression of Portland, beyond MAX? And have you been to Seattle, and how would you compare?
I've been to Seattle, but it was 21 years ago. All I could remember were tons of one-way streets. It looked like a mellower version of San Francisco.

I liked Portland very much, it is a very underrated city. Granted, there are places especially in the SE part of town that aren't very accessible by transit, other than bus, but I did enjoy biking around town (I rented a bike from Citybikes - 3 days for just $45!).

My only complaint about Portland -- the women there are the least attractive of any city I have been to. but at least the city itself is pretty.
 

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"There It Is, Take It!"
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Awesome pics :)

QQ: How would you rate the performance of it in the downtown compared to the suburbs???
Well obviously with any street-running light rail, it runs slower downtown and faster in the suburbs. Didn't bother me too much. Bus service in the suburbs sucks, but I guess that's how it is anywhere.
 

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I like the new trains. They hid those ugly things on the front.

New MAX Trains Due Fall 2008



As part of the I-205/Portland Mall Light Rail Project, TriMet is unveiling 21 new MAX train cars with more seats and a sleek new look.

The fourth-generation ("Type 4") MAX cars are being built by Siemens Transportation Systems, Inc., and are scheduled to begin service throughout the MAX system in fall 2008.

Shown at right, the new cars are Siemens S70/Avanto light rail vehicles, which are currently in use in Houston, Texas; San Diego, California; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Paris, France. Each car costs about $3.5 million.

Modern design & amenities

• four doors per side, two of which are equipped with retractable ramps for accessibility

• low floors over 70 percent of the interior for easy boarding

• air conditioning

• interior and exterior surveillance systems and an open interior design for maximum safety and visibility

• automated station announcements and rider information on readerboards

MORE HERE: http://portlandmall.org/about/newtrains.htm
 

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"There It Is, Take It!"
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I like the new trains. They hid those ugly things on the front.

New MAX Trains Due Fall 2008



As part of the I-205/Portland Mall Light Rail Project, TriMet is unveiling 21 new MAX train cars with more seats and a sleek new look.

The fourth-generation ("Type 4") MAX cars are being built by Siemens Transportation Systems, Inc., and are scheduled to begin service throughout the MAX system in fall 2008.

Shown at right, the new cars are Siemens S70/Avanto light rail vehicles, which are currently in use in Houston, Texas; San Diego, California; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Paris, France. Each car costs about $3.5 million.
I've ridden on the San Diego and Houston versions, very sleek.

Hey, are there Pinoys in Portland? The only thing I saw there was an Asian Community Newspaper and an LBC truck on I-205...
 

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I'm Pinoy. There are restuarants and stores scattered throughout Portland and the Metro owned by Filipinos as well. Probably a well known one is the Tambayan restuarant in East Portland.
 

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"There It Is, Take It!"
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I'm Pinoy. There are restuarants and stores scattered throughout Portland and the Metro owned by Filipinos as well. Probably a well known one is the Tambayan restuarant in East Portland.
the flag was a dead giveaway :) Just curious if there was a Pinoy community in PDX. I think I saw a few people riding the MAX but that's it. I have a friend who's also Pinoy who lives in Eugene and he hasn't even found a Filipino restaurant in Portland. I told him, "I guess you probably have to go to Seattle for one..."

Are they real restaurants or turo-turo lang?
 

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EffSizzle
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pinoys in PDX

I'm mestizo, from Seattle. Spent the day in Portland this past Monday. Portland is as white as any place I've ever been to. Cute city, lacking in diversity and you're right...the least attractive women I've ever seen. No offense Portland.
 

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"There It Is, Take It!"
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I'm mestizo, from Seattle. Spent the day in Portland this past Monday. Portland is as white as any place I've ever been to. Cute city, lacking in diversity and you're right...the least attractive women I've ever seen. No offense Portland.
Actually I was surprised by its diversity, especially a lot of Latinos there which I didn't expect at all. The MAX trains even announce the stops in Spanish. But yeah, the Portland women, hehe.
 

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I visited Portland Oregon at the end of 2007, the beginning of 2008 just for the sake of the Portland LRT and streetcar. This is indeed a very charming system, the airport accessibility, the downtown alignment, the crescent bridge at Gateway/99 Station, the Washington Park Station under the geological park, were all my favorite spots. I even posted a lot of photos on some bus forums to introduce this great system to a wide range of Chinese audience. However coming from oil sand rich Alberta to Portland, I found the city to be somewhat slumpy. Although I live in Edmonton, Calgary LRT is the one that I loved more. Compare to Calgary LRT, Portland LRT is more expanded than Calgary's, but fails to attract the same level of ridership as Calgary LRT does.
 
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