X-System 3 Transfer Transit Adventure

Today I headed out on the 9:33am arrival of the #9 north bound.  My destination being Little Italy Restaurant in Vancouver, Washington.  This means that I’ll have to travel on the #9 to downtown Portland, jump the MAX Yellow Line and then transfer the Vanport (Race Track – PIR) stop to the C-TRAN #4 bus.  This will be the second time ever that I’ve actually transferred from the TriMet System to the C-TRAN System.

#9 Ride

The trip to downtown was simple enough, the standard trip I make at least once, if not several time per day.  It consists of boarding the bus at 21st & Powell and then heading west on that street, through the major Powell & Milwaukee Intersection, and onto the Ross Island Bridge.  This segment takes about 2-3 minutes, unless traffic bad which sometimes makes it about 5-8 minutes.

The bus takes about a minute to get across the Ross Island Bridge and everyday I enjoy this part of the trip.  While driving one cannot look around and really enjoy the beauty of the river, the view of downtown north of the bridge, or the quaint areas south of the bridge.  Riding the bus one can really take in the view.  Sometimes we’ll catch the streetcar zipping along the only higher speed (30mph) section of the streetcar line.  Toward the end of the bridge the view of South Waterfront is nice, watching the vehicles plying the streets, but even better the pedestrians travelling to and from and around the buildings, boarding the tram, or the streetcar boarding or deboarding riders by the dozens.

The streets just west of the Ross Island Bridge and the downtown bus mall are kind of nice, and messed up all combined.  Immediately off the bridge we pull into a tree lined street, but also one of the most absurd interchanges of the Portland area (more on that below).  Once thru the tree lined section there is a ghastly open expanse while cutting into exiting Interstate Traffic and over the Interstate Bridge.  From there we pull immediately into the bus mall, which simply put, is much nicer than this small expanse just south of the city.

MAX Yellow Line Ride

I got downtown and took a walk for some cash from the ATM, a stroll through Saturday Market, and then boarded the MAX Yellow Line toward Expo Center.  The day has been overcast for my trip so far, but the sun is just hiding behind the clouds so it’s still almost not cold.

The Yellow Line is always a really nice ride.  Traveling through the neighborhoods along Interstate Avenue, with slower speeds, makes for a pleasant run of scenery.  In addition the area is steadily building up and orienting more and more toward transit oriented development.  Some of the density has increased slightly along the line, but nowhere near what it can or eventually will be.

While on the Yellow Line I also managed a short discussion about Nissan Z cars with a older guy.  He was heading to the race track to race, or at least today watch watch the Porsches race.  When we pulled up on the raised section heading to the race track (Vanport Stop) I could see the Porsches lined up and ready to hit the track.  It looked like a fun day of racing, but I wasn’t headed that way, so marked that up to another time or later in the evening (if they’re still running).

C-TRAN #4 Ride

The C-TRAN bus, first thing I noticed, was that it was much cleaner than the TriMet buses, and had slightly nicer seats.  C-TRAN’s ticket pricing appears much smarter than TriMet’s.  Buy a ticket for a one way trip.  Why won’t TriMet do that instead of all this stupid transfer mess that leads to endless  confusion?

The other nice thing was that the bus was sitting and waiting for Yellow Line transfers.  About 8 of the 9 people where transfers from the Yellow Line and the previous Yellow Line arrival.  All boarded we departed and something odd happened.  The bus driver asked all the riders, “Anyone going to Jantzen Beach?” to which the bus replied, “No”.  So she simply replied, “neither are we then”.  At first I couldn’t believe this, what about prospective riders there waiting?  I suppose, maybe since the mall  isn’t open yet they don’t stop there?  Not that I even know when the mall opens, but I was attempting to find a reason to justify this.

I arrived and attended the meeting, introductions ensued and I met a number of interesting people.  Food was good, conversation was good, and a general good time was had.  Interesting discussion on the stimulus funds and other zillion funding methods to get things moving along the northwest rail corridors.  Two bits I found interesting where the wish list items for 3 additional Talgo sets that we need desperately.  The other interesting topic brought up was the need to increase Internet presence, social interaction at that level, and other means to really get people interested and vested in passenger rail travel.  This has been one of my ongoing discussion points on this blog and it continues to be a pain point in this country, everything not involving cars and planes has an extremely difficult time garnering any attention.  Anyway, more on that later.


  1. [i]Today I headed out on the 9:33am arrival of the #9 (…) at 21st & Powell (…)[/i]
    I thought that was you! I was on the same exact bus this morning, heading up to the PSU Commencement. (I transferred to the 70 at Milwaukie and Powell.)

    I like the view of Downtown on the bus from the Ross Island Bridge, too… same with the view from the 17 going over the Brooklyn Yard Overpass, which has the TriMet yard in the foreground and the Portland skyline behind it.

    Also, I’ve transferred from TriMet to C-TRAN hundreds of times since 2002. IMO, the current MAX Yellow Line to C-TRAN 4 transfer is probably the best thought of yet between the two systems.

    [i]…and had slightly nicer seats.[/i]
    Was this one of their buses with the gray seats and the multi-colored inserts with semi-circles and such? Or one of the older ones with the green interior? If it was either of these, the interiors on their year-old hybrid buses are even nicer (if that’s possible to believe without first experiencing it).

    [i]The bus driver asked all the riders, “Anyone going to Jantzen Beach?” to which the bus replied, “No”. So she simply replied, “neither are we then”. At first I couldn’t believe this, what about prospective riders there waiting?[/i]
    I’ve seen this before. As I understand, when the 4 reaches Jantzen Beach going southbound to Delta Park, it will be the exact same bus that will be back in several minutes going northbound. So, the driver will simply encourage anyone waiting for the northbound 4 to simply board then. Additionally, sometimes it runs late due to traffic or ridership, and bypassing Jantzen Beach is one way to make up at least some of the lost time.


  2. Doh! I should have said hello. I was out of it this morning… concentrating on knocking out some work I’d probably miss my own brother on the bus! 😮

    The bus I transferred to is exactly what you mention. I’m contemplating taking a ride on one of the new ones sometimes, just gotta figure out the logistics of it.


  3. I’ve always have good experiences with C-Tran. They definitely do some things differently (i.e. the "anyone going to Jantzen Beach?" thing; I’ve heard this before and was puzzled like you) but their buses are always clean, bus drivers are usually in good spirit, and they’re usually right on schedule.


  4. I still don’t get that, except I don’t really blame em’, I have no reason to ever stop at Jantzen Beach. I’ve been 2 times in the last 6 years. I only went then because someone else wanted to meet there for some reason.

    I do intend at some point to check out some of those Vancouver transit buses, the express routes, etc to see how those are. I’ve heard lots of good things.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s