Put your buses where your trains are

Just heard a great segment during a public radio show based in Seattle called “Weekday” discussing differences in transit between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.  Most interesting to me were the guest’s points about how easy it is to take a train into Portland (from out of town) and then hop on streetcar, light rail, bus, bike, sidewalk, etc., all right there with clear signage.  This photo from lightrailnow.org (taken by Peter Ehrlich) helps illustrate the beauty of bringing services together.

Portland's streetcar and light rail intersect and make it easy to get from one mode to another

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2 responses to “Put your buses where your trains are

  1. Well, sort of. I’ve take the train to Portland before and then taken light rail downtown to the federal courthouse while carrying heavy document bags. Yes, the connection is convenient, but it’s not fast. The distance between the train station and the courthouse is about a mile, and the light rail takes between 10 and 25 minutes depending on how close you are to making your train. If I was walking without heavy bags, I could do it about as fast. Part of the problem is that the Portland light rail goes very slowly downtown since it’s entirely at grade and doesn’t seem to get much traffic light priority. I still like Portland’s system, it’s just not super-convenient for everything.

    • I’m flattered you took the time to comment to this level of detail, John, and you’ve educated me on an aspect of transit in the Northwest that I hadn’t known. I haven’t ridden it in Portland and I’m anxious to do so. Is it really a mile from the train to the courthouse? That seems hard to believe. I think the at-grade piece, though, is a big issue and will haunt systems like Portland’s if they don’t get it figured out. I’ve now ridden other at-grade systems in Houston and Minneapolis, and they thrive because they seem to get signal priority and are rarely stopped for traffic lights.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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