Morning #9 Bus to Union Station
I boarded, the bus appeared to be about 2-3 minutes late, which was odd. It wasn’t tracking with the transit tracker system and just showed the scheduled arrival time instead. Kind of par for the course since I’m going to get on a train that leaves on time.
The last stop before the bridge a lady boarded with her dog. Mind you not a service dog but just the pet. News to anyone that drags their pet around with them everywhere. Keep in mind, we humans are odd like that and place emotions, thoughts, and ideals on animals that they have no knowledge or thought of to have. On that note an animal isn’t promised a service to ride. Your animal is NOT allowed on transit. Just because you think he doesn’t bite or what doesn’t mean squat, so please when riding transit step out of your little dog universe and realize you’ll be around a lot of people. They’re not really allowed in Target, or a million other places. They’re also not allowed in places that serve food. People, please realize that Portland is no being progressive, nor intelligent about the lackluster standards around where you can bring you animal. People worry about stupid things like guns, more dog attacks have occurred in this city than gun attacks. So seriously, think about this and keep it in context. Portlanders’ are spoiled about pet ownership.
When this rider boarded she got a polite lesson about the fact her regular dog can’t just board transit. I love seeing driver’s take charge of their jobs and not be the standard lump of a human sitting in the seat. It is contagious and makes me have pride in what the driver is doing.
When we arrived at PSU one rider walked up, didn’t notify the driver, and got off to retrieve his bike. The rider paused for a moment before jumping in front of the bus which almost gave the driver time, if he had not been noting who was going where he might have hit the guy. Fortunately for the cyclist the driver had been paying attention. He gave the guy a friendly scolding (yeah, it does seem possibly to get a friendly scolding) about notifying the operator so they wouldn’t accidentally take off, with the guy stepping in front of the bus. The cyclist seemed to understand, but hey, it is early and people tend to be a bit dense on an early Saturday morning.
Amtrak Cascades #500
Arrived at Union Station. There was a bustle of activity for National Train Day already. In the station stood one of the Great Northern’s Empire Builder cars and beyond that the Cascades #500 stood ready for departure already. It must have had a good run from Eugene to get here that early. I didn’t see steam engine #4449 yet. It theoretically is supposed to be here today. A boys choir was also singing in the station and tables where being setup in the side wing. As always, for #500 there was a huge line of people already standing, getting their ticket seat assignment from the conductor & assistant.
As the clock ticked toward departure time and the ticketed passengers where given seating assignments, I did my normal non-line standing sit in a seat routine. I just wait until the last minute, stand up and grab a seat assignment, and then sit down, then wait again before boarding. This whole routine of standing up while waiting to get on the train is asinine and I sure wish Amtrak would modernize the process. Even though, on a day like this it doesn’t bother me in the remote, I get to ride on a train and that is what I’m here for.
When I headed out to the train I did see the #4449, the Empire Builder car, and also two Union Pacific cars. Looks like the day should be a blast for Union Station.
Within 2-3 minutes I had joined a conversation with a couple of people heading to Centralia. They where en route for a family meetup. We talked about the old Pionneer that run from Denver to Portland, and joined the train that heads to Chicago once it arrives in Denver. It was a split train kind of like the Empire Builder.
The train smoothly rolled out of Union Station toward Seattle. Passing through the north pearl really made me ponder what the area would look like in a few years. Post recession and a few years back into solid growth the area is planned to really boom. The local economy and business demand downtown will however dictate how that really goes. Beautiful area and I’m sure it will get even better after a bit of clean up and such of the industrial warehouse area. We rolled into Vancouver and I had to bid farewell for this route of my trip. As always the crew rocked (Even Ray, who wasn’t technically being crew, just heading down line), Amtrak even amid my Union complaints, has a very jovial crew on the Cascades and I am always stoked to board one of the trains bound along this corridor!
OMG, WTF, The Bike Just Left Without Me!!!!
Ok, it wasn’t my bike, but a guy with a bike on the Amtrak Train was standing waiting to get his bike off of the baggage car and the train up and left! I was shocked, but not too surprised. The crew of the train had been having a bit of an issue with seating and was continuing to have some communication issues. This though, really baffled me, someone had obviously and SERIOUSLY dropped the ball for this customer. After writing the above blurb about the great Cascades Crews I was really kind of bummed to see this happen for this guy. Fortunately he seemed calm and collected, unlike some customers who just freak out about things like this. Staying calm will get things done a lot faster than freaking out about it. Hopefully they toss the bike onto a south bound train and get it back to the station ASAP. Totally unacceptable but hopefully it can be rectified with some calm and collected, quick communication. Get that guy back on his bike and hopefully keep him a happy customer.
Father met me at the train station in Vancouver. Upon arrival he was standing talking with a guy he just met named Ben. We both chatted a bit and I passed around some of my Transit Sleuth Business Cards (always trying to get new readers, so hey, pass the word around – always good to expand the transit & transport conversation).
At this juncture we headed to downtown to grab some breakfast at Dulins in downtown Vancouver. It is located at the cross streets of McLoughlin and Main. We had a tasty breakfast where I met a Carolina southerner named Duane. He jams in a band called Lincoln’s Beard, so check that out. Interesting music, so it’s worth the time, so go now, right now, and go check it out.
Amtrak Cascades #501
After a solid breakfast and chat with the station attendant about the lost bike, we boarded the #501 south bound to PDX. The train was almost on time, only 4 minutes behind. The bike, just to give readers a bit of closure, was going to be turned up route. What had happened was rooted in the seating fiasco that had started in Portland. No one had told the station attendant that there was a bike to retrieve, so he had not gone to retrieve a bike. Go figure, again, this is a management problem. Being the consultant I am I see this issue for exactly what it is. Amtrak management screws up by not providing the tools and means to communicate that the employees need. The Union fails to allow the employees to do these things, for rather idiotic reasoning. So what Amtrak and the union ends up with is a demoralized employee, a frustrated crew, and a perturbed passenger and a misplaced bike. If m
anagement would and could do their job, the politicians would shut up and get out of the way, and the union would stop demanding absurd stupid working conditions (I’ll elaborate later) the employees could be proud and run a train exponentially better. Overall I’m having a blast on National Train Day, just seeing and running about, however I just have to point out this goof up.
We pulled into Portland in short order and on time. Which means we had zero delays and also where able to run full all the way into the station. Usually it takes a solid 20 minutes to get through the yard and into the station, but today we rolled right through at full allowed speed. I believe we did it in about 13-14 minutes flat.
Father and I then walked about Old Town/Chinatown and checked out various places, picked up a real sugar imported Coca-Cola at Floyd’s Coffee Shop. Walked back to the station while enjoying our real sugar beverages and I saw him off on the north bound #506 (I didn’t see Erik, where were ya?). I walked about and visited the TriMet, AORTA/NARP Booth, and did some chatting. Then I headed back out for my home bound journey. I took the scenic route from the station; #77, MAX Red Line, #75, and then #9 back home. All in all, a great National Train Day.