Friday, July 29, 2011
Any city worth its salt has a good transportation system, and Portland's
TriMet provides that to the city. TriMet provides Bus, Commuter Rail, Light Rail
and Streetcar service. I tried out the MAX Light Rail service and was pretty
impressed. I'm a transit geek (yes, among other geeky hobbies) so I like to
try out the different rail systems in cities we visit. I only rode MAX from
the Convention Center to Downtown, but it did a great job of doing what it's
supposed to do. Moving someone from Point A to Point B.
The several times I rode, the cars were never over-full. I don't know if that's
a good thing or not, since it might be a reflection of popularity. However, I
never rode during the rush hours so it probably wasn't a fair evaluation.
Regardless, the trains were always clean and people pretty much minded
their own business and weren't annoying. That can't be said of some rail
systems I've ridden on.
Inside the downtown zone, there's no cost to ride. Great for tourists like
me who don't want to make a long term investment in the city's transportation
system. However, there is a reasonably fair charge if you want to go outside
this zone, such as to the airport.
My route took me over the Willamette River on the Steel Bridge. Portland is
known for its bridges and they did a good job of utilizing the Steel Bridge
for multipurpose functions. While I was crossing, I also saw people walking,
driving and riding their bikes across the bridge. Why build a bridge for just
one purpose when you can utilize an existing bridge for all purposes!
I was impressed by MAX, but Portland is not a perfect city for transportation.
Several times while driving we either saw or were involved in huge backups
on the Freeway. Usually it turned out to be something that could have easily
been avoided, if we discovered the reason at all. However, the side artery
streets seemed to move really well and people seem to like the Light Rail.
A good solution to keep a pretty city looking nice and moving people
quickly and efficiently.