Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Portland Day 3

Day 3 in Portland was a very busy one. I was hoping to attend one of the morning mobile workshops but they where all filled up but as it turned out I would have some personal business to take care of so it all worked out.

I started off by getting up very early and catching the first route 20 bus to the Beaverton Transit Center. My purpose in this early morning jaunt was to ride WES which is Tri-Mets new commuter rail system from Beaverton to Wilsonville which is the first true suburban to suburban commuter rail system (unless you want to count some of the Conneticut DOT shuttles such as Danbury but thier primary purspose is to connect up with the New Haven to New York commuter trains).

I could have caught the first train after my bus arrived but I wanted to get some OJ but despite the early morning time (6:00AM) there was a good crowd getting off the train and a few people getting back on.

I caught the train that left at 6:28AM. There was a fully seated load getting off and a few people getting on. There is only 3 mid route stations but most of the passengers would board at the last two of those stations which suprised me. By the time we arrived in Wilsonville there was a full seated load. The Wilsonville station is kind of isolated but it does have connecting bus service to the state capital of Salem so many may have been state workers.

WES operates with DMU's (Diesel Multiple Unit) cars made by the late Colorado Railcar. These are the only DMU's that meet the current Federal Guidlines to operate on regular rail lines and fortunately despite the demise of Colorado Railcar another company US Railcar is taking over production.

The WES maintenance facility is located next to the Wilsonville station and I could only see one spare DMU car along with two RDC cars which are 50+ year old DMU's that the private railroads used extensively with the decline of passenger rail service in the 50's and 60's.

Leaving Wilsonville for the trip back we had a half a car load seated which comprised mostly of women which is unusual for commuter rail. However, the numbers evened up by the next stop at which time we had standing room only conditions. There was one lady talking loudly to a couple of friends who took up two seats so no one else could sit down next to her and a guy behind me who I saw later at Railvolution who made it clear no one was going to sit next to him. Some people are just down right rude and very inconsiderate.

The train remained SRO until we arrived Beaverton. I will discuss in more detail WES once I am done traveling.

My first Mobile Workship of Railvolution was in the afternoon and was "Portland's Maturing Streetcar Neighborhood's" which discussed how the Pearl District and its surronding neighborhoods came to be and we had question and answer sessions with one of the architects, devolopers and business owners that made the streetcar and the neighborhood successful.

One of the biggest surprises was the developer responsible for making the Pearl District what is is today was actually a suburban developer originally that is now solely focused on urban development.

Once will do several articles in the coming weeks going into more detail of what I learn at Railvolution and how it can apply to other cities across the nation.

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