Saturday, October 16, 2010

Portland Day 1

This blog is being made from the city of Portland, Oregon as I spend a couple of days in the city before attending Railvolution which starts on Monday.

The entire time I am in Portland I will be using Tri-Met bus and rail service to get along. I wish I could say that the trip started on transit but I needed to be at the Salt Lake airport at 6:30am and that is an hour before the first UTA route 550 gets to the airport so I had to use the Express shuttle to reach the airport. Hopefully once TRAX is operating they will have earlier service for those taking those first flights of the morning.

After arriving in Portland I made the short walk over the the MAX station which is located near the baggage claim area of the airport terminal. It has been 6 years since I was last on the Red Line from the airport and there has been many changes. Back then the train didn't allow passengers off at the Mt Hood station, but today there has been a large amount of development along the line, sadly much of it auto centric such as IKEA and Target but there is also some hotels locating along the line and promoting their access to MAX.

At the Gateway Transit Center I transferred to the Green Line since it is the only MAX line I have not ridden. The train I caught from Gateway came from the Ruby Junction carhouse on the far end of Blue Line in Gresham so there was not many passengers.

The Green Line epitomizes why freeway transit lines don't work well. Except for the SE Main station which serves Mall 205 which is also an auto centric shopping center, most of the stations are difficult to reach and have difficult access from street level. The one exception is the SE Flavel station which is at street level and has bus service directly in front of it. However, the most of the high density residential development in the area is actually located on the opposite side of the freeway from MAX with the freeway creating its usual wall between neighborhoods.

The final station is at the Clackamas Town Center Mall. However, to reach the mall you have to pass a multi story parking garage which also houses the bus stops of the transit center and then the main mall parking. Once again the transit center is on the mall property but does not integrate with the mall. Hopefully over time mall management will see the opportunity of blending the mall with the transit station.

I then headed into downtown Portland on the Green Line while I had been down the transit mall in a bus a few years ago, today I rode light rail down the famous transit mall. I was hoping to ride the new Siemens S series cars that Portland has and will soon be in service for UTA but every train I rode had the older Siemens low floor cars.

I also had the opportunity to ride the Portland streetcar on the short stretch that I have not previously rode from Riverplace to the current end of the line at SW Lowell. I was hoping to ride the Willamette Shore Trolley along the proposed route of the Lake Oswego Rapid Streetcar but their website said they have mechanical problems that will have it out of service until sometime in December.

I also shopped at the Safeway Store at Jefferson and 10th which is on the streetcar line. This store is actually a pedestrian friendly store. Despite what Kroger says, a pedestrian friendly store can be built and be successful.

Portland is an outstanding town to explore by transit and by foot and I will be doing more of that tomorrow.

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