Portland Observations – Part 2

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OK, here is my streetcar post. The goal here is to just show the mechanics of it.

The first hurdle to public transit, especially those of us that ride it infrequently, is we never know how much it will cost and how to pay for it. Modern transit systems like Portland’s deal with this by posting easy to understand directions and using machines that take cash and credit cards.

Trimet MAX and bus ticket machine, with a validator to the left. These tickets are also valid on the streetcar:

Then you approach a stop. This is what a stop looks like from the sidewalk or rear side. This one is cluttered with newspaper racks and a bike rack:

Here is the same stop showing the catenary and support post:

Notice how the stop is a raised bump-out in the street:

Since they are located near intersections, they do not remove many parking spaces, yet they do not block traffic because the loading is fast. The loading is fast for two reasons: prepaying and several sets of wide doors at grade.

Here is a less cluttered stop. Notice how there is a step up on this side. Most of the stops have a step at one end and a slope at the other end:

Inside the small stop shelter, there is a map and digital display:

The digital display tells you the time until the next two trains. After looking at this you can decide if you want to run across the street and get a coffee. The displays were very accurate, and I think they track the trains with GPS. I find this function very helpful:

If the display is malfunctioning, or you are a few blocks away, and want to know when the next train comes, you can use this tracking number:

They also list several websites for further transit option info, including cars:

A streetcar approaching a stop:

The entry is level enough for people with walkers and strollers, but if you have a wheelchair, you can push a button and a small ramp pops out. It extends in a few seconds and retracts after the doors shut:

This streetcar is moving away from us, but the front and rear looks the same:

Here is a streetcar mixing in traffic:

Once inside the car, there is a large level area, then this stepped-up area at each end. In this shot you can see where the driver sits. He has his door open, and can keep an eye on things if he needs to, or he can shut the door:

Here is a shot of a typical crowd on the streetcar.

There were many people in wheelchairs or motorized carts, but I didn’t get any pictures of them. If you didn’t get your tickets outside, there is a machine inside, shown here on the right:

Yellow ticket validator:

The yellow streetcar:

Here is a short video not by me, so you can hear it:

That is how it works. It is very low-barrier, easy to use and thus popular.


2 thoughts on “Portland Observations – Part 2

    sushiosoyum said:
    February 17, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    A good system indeed. Too bad the prices are vastly overpriced. $2.30 for an all-zone ticket? Give me a break. And Trimet will be raising the fare yet again in the next month or so. I never pay for the streetcar, just hop right on so I guess it the fares don’t affect me too much 😉

    ValkRaider said:
    February 20, 2009 at 1:38 am

    The Portland Streetcar travels a large portion of it’s route in “Fareless Square” and is free. Also, the Streetcar is not run by Tri-Met, they simply share fare systems. The streetcar is operated by Portland Streetcar Inc. and the City of Portland, in cooperation with Tri-Met.

    You don’t even need an “all-zone” ticket on the Portland streetcar. The Portland streetcar travels entirely within zone 1, so even outside of fareless square you only need a 1 zone ticket ($2). Also, an annual “streetcar only” pass is only $100.

    As far as those arrival times, the company that provides those has a nifty real-time web based map of the streetcars in Portland:

    The Portland Streetcar passes near my office, and I use it (and the rest of the transit system too) regularly.

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