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.
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.