Wednesday, June 20, 2007

10 Things I Love about Portland (OR) - #7

Public Transportation

I know I know, not very sexy but it deserves to be mentioned, especially living in a city that just can't figure the issue out (even though Boston's public transportation system has been around longer than any other's).
The trifecta of Portland's system is the Max Light Rail, the Portland Streetcar, and the good old fashioned (sort of) Bus.

The Max runs East to West (and vice versa of course) allowing you to get off a plane at the airport jump right on the Max and take it all of the way out into the suburbs of Hillsboro if you want to (I don't recommend that unless you live there). It's the line that brings you up into Washington Park (see previous post). The Streetcar runs North and South, allowing for easy access from Nob Hill or the Pearl District to downtown and PSU (that's Portland State University). The buses run all over the place. You can bring your bike if you want, they all have racks on the front. All of the buses (as far as I know) are monitored by GPS. Each bus stop has a sign with a stop number on it. Want to know when your bus is coming? Call the toll free number and enter the stop code and an automated system tells you just how much longer you have to wait. No more wondering if walking would be faster. Now you can know for sure. The drivers are nice too!

Here's the pièce de résistance: Fareless Square. Most of downtown falls within fareless square which means, you don't have to pay for the ride. It's a ingenious way to keep cars out of downtown. It works too! Fareless Square even has it's own Wikipedia entry (which I guess isn't really that strange).

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