Portland Observations – Part 4

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My last post about Portland rail will explain the Light Rail system. First listen to the terminology: light rail. It may be lighter that a locomotive, but the light rail struck me as heavy, especially compared to the Streetcar.

Here is a train pulling up to a stop on a city street:

Instead of raising, just the area, where the stop is (as with the streetcar), for the trains, the entire sidewalk is raised to exactly meet the train floor:

In this photo, notice that the curb closest to the camera is raised with truncated domes and it sticks out a bit further than the rest of the curb. Also notice that there is no on-street parking here, and that there are only 2 drving lanes. This was probably a four lane street before conversion to Light Rail:

My experience is that the streets with the lightrail had lots of pedestrians and less car traffic. However, please note that the entire street, from building face to building face must be re-built to accomodate the LR. For the streetcar, only a strip of street is removed and only the stops are raised.

Here is a shot that I believe shows the Light Rail tracks crossing the Streetcar tracks:

LR at Pioneer Square showing the widened sidewalks:

People getting on and off at Pioneer Square:

Showing level entry and bike inside:

Inside a crowded train:

Another interior shot:

Wheelchair on LR train:

Stroller on LR train:

We took the Blue line three different places. First we took it west, out to Orenco, a newer suburb. Then we came back into town and on the way stopped at their zoo. The next day we took the train the other direction, to the airport. The train runs extremely smooth. After getting out of town, and off the streets to separated grade tracks, I was initially dissapointed, because the train didn’t seem to be going very fast. Later, I noticed that the we were keeping pace with cars on the freeway, so it must have been going at least 50mph.

This western route passes their minor league team stadium a few blocks before going into a long sloping tunnel:

Here is a development at the Beaverton Stop:

Bagel shop, parking lot and housing at another suburban stop:

Here is multi-family housing under construction near the stop:

Here is the train at the Orenco stop:

In this shot you see the suburban street and sidewalks crossing the tracks:

Train discharge at the airport:

Here is a picture of the train maintenance building. The sheds for the streetcar were much smaller:

Here is a train parked at the maintenance yards. I think the typical train is two of these backed up to each other:

The fare system is similar to the Streetcar, and all tickets are transferable to bus and rail. The trains seemed very popular, especially to the airport. I made the trip to Orenco on a Sunday so I didn’t witness much commuting. Most of the people were getting off at the Washington Park stop to go to the zoo or to hike.

4 thoughts on “Portland Observations – Part 4

    CincyStreetcar Blog’s Portland Observations said:
    February 19, 2009 at 9:41 am

    […] Portland Observations – Part 4: Light rail. Oregon Reddit// […]

    devlyn said:
    February 19, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    The photo under “Here is a shot that I believe shows the Light Rail tracks crossing the Streetcar tracks:” is actually a crossing of lightrail and lightrail for the new Green line MAX that will go between Portland State University and Clackamas (a suburb) that will open later this year. And the photo under “Another interior shot:” is from the Streetcar, not the MAX.
    I’ve been carfree in Portland for over a year now an use the MAX extensively for mostly commuting, and use the bus and streetcar to get around to do errands and the like. The entire TriMet system is extremely easy to use and is very convenient for me. Not to say that it couldn’t use some improvement, but I am excited for the future growth of the lightrail systems here, and hope that TriMet continues to grow and adjust to the population/density as well as it has so far.

    jfwells said:
    February 19, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Actually, Morrison Street, which you show in your third photo was never four lane. It has always been two lane, and now has one for the MAX and one for motor vehicle traffic. Buildings were not disturbed during construction and sidewalks were only changed at the stops (widened slightly), and cosmetically. Information on the new light rail line through downtown can be found here: http://www.portlandmall.org/

    ValkRaider said:
    February 20, 2009 at 1:23 am

    All in all – an outstanding Portland post for a guy from Cincinnati! You made some great observations! There is lots and lots of info about Portland MAX online, no need to beat that horse here. I’ll just chime in with the other comments:

    Yep, The “Another Interior Shot” is inside the streetcar.

    Also, the “Inside a crowded train” shot is actually about 3/4 crowded. They get much much more full than that. Peak rush hour, or around blazer games or Rose Festival.

    The “2 driving lanes” is a bit incorrect, it is one driving lane and one lane dedicated to MAX.

    Also ditto, the “crossing tracks” you pictured is the new (opens September 2009) green line crossing the existing 3 blue, yellow, and red lines.

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