Posts Tagged ‘Portland MAX’

News From Portland – Trams and Light Rail

August 27, 2010

The newly-redesigned Portland Streetcar website is especially informative, and is doing a great job
reporting on the week-by-week progress of our forthcoming east side (of the Willamette River) streetcar line. For example, see

for a video visualization of the new line, and also

which has a good map and discussion of the current Broadway Bridge closure. The 1913 bridge will connect the existing west side line to the new east side one; the bridge is closed all summer for track laying. The bridge was the world’s largest bascule bridge and is still one of the larger ones. If you like interesting bridges, see

for a good article.

Finally, have a look at

for a realtime map showing the locations of the trams on the west side


Portland’s Ice Storms – A Chilling Reminder That Mother Nature Is Unpredictable

December 5, 2009

Zweisystem was in Portland during the 2007 ice storm and what an experience. Portland’s car drivers seemed ill equipped to deal with ice and tried to drive like it was snow and the following video shows the results.

The following video shows a four car MAX train clearing the ice build up in the flange way at an intersection. The build up of ice in the flange way breaks the electrical contact and stops the train, thus a four car train is needed to clear the flange way so at least one vehicle remains in the electrical circuit. Portland up to 2008 did not invest in snow and ice removal vehicles, unlike other cities who operate light rail in harsh winter conditions and removal of snow and especially ice is done manually.

Just a note: Vancouver hasn’t endured the ices storms that Portland now seems to get on an almost regular basis and when the last time an ice storm hit Vancouver in the late 90’s, the ice build up on the SkyTrain reaction rail stopped the SkyTrain metro system.

LRT versus BUSES – Why Portland chose light rail – from the LRTA

November 23, 2009

MAX in snow

The following article written by Gerald Fox, former TriMet Rail Corridor Manager, is well worth a read as it gives good insight why Portland opted for modern light rail.  Gerald Fox, one must remember is the same chap, who in the early 90’s, published a study, “A comparison of Automated Guided Transit (AGT) and Light Rail Transit”, which concluded that given equal rights-of-ways, LRT was cheaper to build, operate, and maintain. Mr. Fox also wrote a letter to a Victoria transit group shredding the Evergreen Line’s business case.

There is a growing number of people in the region who believe that buying and operating more buses will solve our local transit woes, yet the same people refuse to recognize the buses just do not attract much new ridership. Mr. Fox’s article mat shed some light on the bus/LRT issue and why Portland opted for light rail.

From the ‘Other’ Vancouver – The Vancouver Columbian “All aboard!’ in Dallas, Seattle, Portland”

October 9, 2009


It seems light-rail is very well spoken of in the other ‘Vancouver‘ (Vancouver Washington State) and one wishes that our local media types would write a few positive things about the worlds most built public transit mode. One would also hope that the mainstream media would entertain a few investigative reports on our light-metro system instead of taking TransLink’s spin-doctors news releases as real news. The dichotomy between Vancouver BC and Portland, Seattle, Dallas is clear; in the USA, Light Rail implementation goes through a rigorous public debate, while here in ‘Lotus Land’ it is “you will get SkyTrain (or RAV) whether you like it or not and please don’t try to confuse us with facts“.

The Columbian – Vancouver, WA
Sunday, September 20 [2009]

John Laird, Sept. 20: ‘All aboard!’ in Dallas, Seattle, Portland

Light-rail critics might have difficulty answering this question: If light rail is such a wasteful boondoggle, shouldn’t the systems around the nation be contracting and even closing?

Instead, the reverse has been happening for more than 25 years, and the pace of growth is even accelerating. Last week in Dallas, a 28-mile light-rail line opened and — as Texans are wont to brag — they’re calling it the longest light rail project on the continent.

Up in Seattle, light rail has taken many years to develop, but its recent launch and imminent growth are remarkable. A 14-mile line from Seattle to Tukwila opened in July. In December the line will extend 2 miles to the SeaTac Airport, offering a 36-minute ride from downtown to the airport. In the next seven years, a north extension to the University of Washington is planned, and voters have already approved new lines to Lynnwood, Federal Way and Redmond.

Last Saturday in Portland, TriMet opened the 8.3-mile MAX Green Line to Clackamas Town Center. About 40,000 people showed up for free rides on Saturday. Paid ridership on Monday was light, as is typical on new lines, but weekday Green Line ridership is projected to reach 25,000 in a year. Just since 2000, MAX has added 20 miles of service with 34 stations, expanding one of the nation’s top light-rail systems to 52 miles and 84 stations. A seven-mile light-rail line into Milwaukie is next on the drawing board.

So the question persists: How could governments and transportation planners nationwide have been so incredibly stupid — or worse, so duplicitous and corrupt — for the past quarter of a century? If light rail is the expensive flimflam that critics claim, then Americans have been victimized by the most egregious and expensive public works rip-off in U.S. history. Sounds like it’s time for some orange jump suits and perp walks, right?
The distant vision

The truth, of course, is that light rail is a viable transportation alternative for the long-range future. And “long-range” is where a lot of people get divided on this issue.

Light-rail detractors are rooted in the past and entrenched in the status quo. Their ancestors back in 1916 probably grumbled that a bridge across the Columbia River would cost too much and would only bring crime and rampant growth into Clark County. That bridge was built anyway, because it was the right thing to do. And some horse owners probably went ballistic back when America started paving roads, but it was necessary for the future.

Light-rail supporters, on the other hand, are enthralled by the future and committed to planning for the next century. These folks are not trying to “take away our cars.” They’re not trying to “force light rail down our throats.” They’re simply trying to keep our grandchildren from charging us with inadequate planning and myopia. Light rail is meant to supplement — not supplant — automobiles.

This debate will rage into perpetuity, fueled by experts on both sides who insist that light rail is too expensive (or a good deal), superfluous (or visionary), and forced-down-our-throats (or sanctioned-by-conventional-wisdom).

In Vancouver, the debate takes on the added component of the Columbia River Crossing project. Some people here see light rail as a sinister snake coiled to inject its poison into our community. Others see it as the next logical step in building a transportation system that will last 50 to 100 years.

To that debate, lets add these facts from a Sept. 12 Oregonian story by Dylan Rivera and Steve Mayes: “Crime on the MAX light rail system dropped 18 percent in 2008, a stunning contrast from the public perception of a crime-riddled conveyance” a couple of years ago. At the Beaverton and Hillsboro light-rail stations, incidents of crime have been reduced by about half in the past two years.

Of course, that trend won’t keep the “Crime Train” bellyachers from spreading their message. But for people who see beyond tomorrow and don’t have an umbilical connection to their cars, that trend bolsters the belief that light-rail systems — just like those dastardly paved roads a century ago — belong in our transportation future.

John Laird is The Columbian’s editorial page editor. His column of personal opinion appears each Sunday

From the Seattle Times – TriMet opens MAX Green Line in Oregon

September 14, 2009

Green Line

Portland continues to expand its light rail network with the opening of the Green Line. The Green line is 13.35 km. long and cost CAD $619.45 million or CAD $46.4 million per km. The higher cost of Portland’s Green line can be attributed to the fact that the new light rail-line parallels Highway 205 and much heavy engineering had to be done including building earthworks viaducts, several bridges and short tunnels.

The Green line marks Portland’s fifth light rail line and already planning is under way for a sixth light rail line and new streetcar lines.

TriMet has opened its new MAX Green Line to the public. The line is TriMet’s fifth and extends from Portland to Clackamas County, running…

The line is TriMet’s fifth and extends from Portland to Clackamas County, running a total of 8.3 miles. The line runs through the Portland State University campus, already the top destination for TriMet riders.

TriMet began construction on the $575.7 million project in early 2007.

About 60 percent of the tab was paid for with federal funds. The rest was paid for by the city of Portland, Metro, TriMet, Clackamas County and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The Green Line will begin regular service today, with trains running every 15 minutes most hours and every 20 minutes in the early morning and late evenings.

Seattle Times news services