Today I got to take a preview ride on the new mall on one of the new MAX LRVs. Here are a few of my initial observations.
The new MAX LRVs are wicked smooth riding. The braking, seating positions, and the rear (middle?) bubble positions are awesome. They make for some great views from the ride. In addition to the seating and better braking for a smoother ride, when sitting near the front or rear one can actually see out of the cab now! So seeing where one is going or has been when in those seating positions is possible. This just strikes me as a rather awesome new feature. I like to be able to see out the front of the vehicle. The image to the left is of the rear vestibule area of the lead LRV of our two car LRV train. Click the image to check out the larger available image (along with the others).
When boarding they had a "Not In Service" displayed on the reader boards. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten to ride a MAX while the reader boards displayed the not in service message.
The spacing of the stops I really like. It is a vast improvement over the cramped spacing of the previous bus mall & current Yamhill & Morrison Street stops. We where able to make the whole loop and take a break at the turnaround in 30 minutes. So the length of the mall was easily covered in about 10 minutes, and I’m thinking operations will enable an 8 minute cross town trip. If the rest of the MAX line through town was setup this way, we could get a cross town commute of about 16-18 minutes instead of the current 22+ from Lloyd Center to Goose Hollow. If I ever have to make that commute again, I’d sure appreciate 16-18 minutes versus 22+ minutes. That 4-6 minutes really starts to add up over the course of a week.
The serpentine approach really doesn’t seem to be causing anywhere near as much confusion or problems as I originally had imagined. If anything, with the train & buses in operation the idiot auto drivers actually pay more attention. After hours when the frequencies increase and the mall is often empty, drivers just end up all over the lanes without regard for where they’re supposed to drive. I guess, one really can’t expect more from American drivers, Portlanders or not. Simple fact is, drivers are intolerably unobservant on average.
Yup, even on the first preview ride we already have a bicyclist aboard! In actuality probably 30% of the riders on this first ride ALL came to the preview ride on bikes. Most had locked up their rides nearby instead of bringing them on board.
We started out at the information store on 6th & Alder. After everyone met up the group walked down to the 6th & Burnside stop to entrain. Once everyone go planted in a seat and checked out the new LRV we had our announcer start providing us some information about the new mall line. She started off with the tidbit of 1.8 miles of track on the mall, and continued while everyone listened and talked. She might have just thought we weren’t! 😉
To the right is an image from the tail end of the train with fellow riders Gabriel Amadeus Tiller, and Jo looking away to ignore the camera. Several other familiar faces where along to enjoy the ride too. If you follow me on Twitter you’ve probably seen my tweet, if not, get signed up.
First we headed north toward the train station and slowed at each stop, as if in service. I grabbed the following shot from the clean clear window, which you can see a slight glimmer of. It is truly awesome to be able to get to the train station via MAX now. Every major mode of intercity transport is now connected via light rail. Train & Plane, the city is now set. 🙂
As we made our turn to head back south I grabbed two photos of the inside sharp twist of the LRVs. The first here is looking to the front of the train and the second is looking to the back. I must say, I think these are the sharpest turns in the system, I could be wrong but jeez, they are sharp.
We rolled on steady after that as a jovial camaraderie was had by all. With keen observations taking place by the riders one could see the interest and excitement. The rear seats where immediately taken up by a happy quartet of individuals, which grew into a group carrying on with smiles among the entire rear vestibule.
We made our way back to Burnside, past Backspace (grabbed a shot of that later, take a look at the images toward the end of the blog entry). After that short bit we rolled through and uphill to the southern turnaround. There we all stopped for a short breather, I mean, we where all with bated breath from the excitement of being some of the first to ride the new MAX. Dibs right!
While heading south we also came to a stop and waited beside our little flanged wheel brethren the streetcar.
After the short ride back north to our departing stop, we all detrained with the giddiness of a kid with their first lego toy. I think everyone was pretty stoked after our little foray. After that it was time to hit the carts on 5th. Below are a few more shots I caught while walking about.
A angle focus shot of the LRV.