The Green Line Arrives in Portland

The first thing I saw the morning of Saturday, while waiting for the #9 to arrive was one of the builders of America.  With over 150 years of building America under its belt, one more train rolled by with a double stack cargo container consist.  Union Pacific, silently and ghost like serves the nation without many even knowing they exist.  I couldn’t help but wonder, where are the parades and celebrations for these trains? But I do digress, on to the Green Line!

Kicking Off the Green Line

As planned the Green Line kicked off operations yesterday.  I must say it was a bit smoother than the Yellow Line switch over, I’m guessing they’ve ironed out a bit more of the signals that were operating oddly 2 weeks ago.  So today, Sunday, is now full operations day #1, and tomorrow will be the first day of operations under regular commuter capacity loads.  Yesterday however was probably at the expected 25,000 or so trips taken on the line.

Train #1 – The Politicos Arrive

Our leadership at the FTA, local and otherwise arrived after their Clackamas Town Center kick off earlier.  I guess it was sometime around 10am-ish.  The drum core was playing and the college cheer leading squad was down to cheer as the politicians arrived and proceeded to the speaking platform.

To the left I saw Jason McHuff filming some video of the drum core just before the politicians’ arrival, to the right Jo and Don surveyed the growing crowd.  I stood afar before diving into the Seattle’s Best for a morning coffee.  Sure, it was almost 11am, but I had not had much of the day to wake up yet.

The politicians arrived and started to do their speaking, which led my father, mother, Don, Jo, John, and I to head off for a bit to do something interesting. John ran into one of the "recall Sam Adams" people, and after a minute of hearing the lady’s spiel I butt in to lay down my 2 cents.  We both concurred that the recall effort was mostly grasping at straws, even if successful, vain at best.  In general, if you do or do not support Sam, the effort is a waste of time.  In addition, there is a simple fact to remember, even when they do not intend to, politicians lie.

Back on the events of the day, we continued our trek via streetcar to the Farmer’s Market.  There Jo & Don picked up some kicking Pine State Biscuits.  Pops, mother, John, and I wandered around checking out various market items.  We caught a raggy time band jamming away upon our approach to the market.

After about 30 minutes we headed back to see about catching a Green Line Train to Clackamas.

We walked up just as the first politician’s train was departing.  It left at 11:24am instead of the advertised 11:30am.  I stated simply, “I guess we won’t be catching that ride.”  We waited, a Type-4 Yellow Line LRV set arrived and departed.  The next set arrived was a Type-3 & Type-1.  Some of the crew was bummed that we wouldn’t be able to ride one of the new trains.  I figured we’d be able to jump aboard a Type-4 set at some point so it didn’t bother me too much.

We made decent time heading out of town, with no delays initially.  At each stop as we passed through, people were enjoying the various booths, tents, events, and such.  Overall the mood was ecstatic.  John, who is from the DC area, enjoyed the ride out, as did all our other crew.

Don, who is a navy man who lives in the Philippines also enjoyed the trip.  He’s in town waiting on his ship to depart, and Friday night Jo and I had met him at Clackamas Town Center (the Mall).  He had arrived there by travelling from Swan Island on the #72 the length of the entire route.  He was more than chill with riding the bus, having been all over the world, one usually doesn’t have any issue getting around.  He did quip, “it’s nicer riding the train the distance than the bus”.

After a wander about the mall, a small snippet of eats, we all headed back downtown and off to various directions.  Jo & Don headed to Target off of the I-205 Mall Stop, I headed back downtown, John & Father headed up to the airport by riding the #72 and transferring to the Red Line.

Streetcar Press – It’s all about the information.

While on way out to Clackamas TC I just happened to meet Justin H. Wright, Publisher at Streetcar Press.  We had a nice long conversation while en route to Clackamas Town Center.  Check out some of the materials published over at the Streetcar Press Website.  I’ll definitely have to meet up and discuss some other possible materials that I could contribute to in the future.

Max, Jason.  We Three Transit Amigos

On the way back the Green, Yellow, Blue, and Red had all started to clump a bit in the Banfield Corridor.  This caused a 10 minute delay in arrival back downtown.  Thus I arrived 10 minutes late to meet up with Max Campos and Jason McHuff.

We all boarded up on a Green Line departure for Clackamas TC after a tour through the Pioneer Square exhibits.  Pioneer Square was a great show, with all sorts of booths and even a bus on display in the square.  We eventually made it all the way to Clackamas Town Center, wandered around the booths and such for a few minutes, and then headed back north.

We discussed dozens of different topics including why we were into transit in general.  Max also pointed out many of the different points of data acquisition and other things available via TriMet.  Great trip, great conversation, will absolutely have to have a get together again in the future.  Yes, I will get on that immediately.  Still trying to find the time to setup a meet.

While out at Clackamas Town Center stop I grabbed a few shots of the line waiting to board the MAX heading back downtown.

The lines and crowds were impressive.  I have little doubt TriMet met expectations of 25,000 plus trips made on opening day.  I just wonder now if they’ll be able to blow past my estimates made in my ridership estimates entry.

I do suspect that the mall will provide a great anchor for the MAX Green Line, I also have my doubts about it providing a significant rider count.  It is possible though, as this mall is the first real suburban mall connected via MAX besides Pioneer Place Mall.  This mall will really provide evidence that light rail can attract young riders that are the standard suburban mall bunnies (or whatever you would call them).  If the line garners a high rider count of young people to and from the mall it could provide catalyst for even further expansion of light rail to these types of end points.

Along the ride a few shots of the green line trains.  The Type-4 LRV set display the Green Line with the little green light, dots, or whatever you would call that green square.  The traditional Typee 1-3s all show the Green Line with a standard green banner display across the front and sides of the LRVs.

The following shots of the MAX show a Type-4 headed to City Center, a Type-3 (or 2?) heading to Clackamas Town Center, and a Type-4 headed to PSU.

I did notice that when the LRVs get to Clackamas TC the icon on the Type 4’s goes hot pink and then shows PSU as the next destination.  Some of the arrivals however showed City Center as the destination instead of PSU.  I suspect that may have something to do with the particular train going in or out of service.  If so, that really throws a curve ball in for planning a trip, hope that doesn’t mess up riders.

Another great thing at the Clackamas TC is the storm swales.  These provide a beautiful addition to the stop but also a very functional cleansing of the waste water that runs off of the station.  Something that is desperately needed in and around more parking lots.  The amount of poisonous waste that runs off of parking lots is mind boggling and a simple swale does a great job cleaning up most of it.

After riding the Green Light the exitement of a successful line made me eally hope that TriMet sees much higher ridership numbers than my previous write up suggests.  I just can’t logically expect more until the economy really starts to turn around (or heaven forbid the Government actually fixes some real issues:  i.e. Federal Reserve, Monetary System, Market Policies, etc).

The last shot of the trip I’ll leave readers with is a shot of the storm swale that is at Clackamas TC.  With the drain easily visible under the rocks, one can see how the water will flow into and through the most greenery in the landscape.  Those weeds, as they may appear, serve as the workers of the cleansing process.  What little waste actually leaves the transit aspect (LRVs, rail bed, etc) station will flow into here.  The real work of this storm swale will be to clean up the bus and auto waste product.

Commute?

I’m tempted over the next few weeks to catch a few trips out on my old trusty #9 Bus and catch the Green Line into town.  I would of course do my regular transit sleuthing activity of checking out the ridership stats, and doing some general observations on the efficiency, usefulness, or as I always look forward to, my personal productivity while on the route.

Sunday, A Little Bit More

Jason, Max, and I all discussed a lot about transit tracker and the general state of web services offered by TriMet.  These services enable all sorts of devices and applications.  These apps are awesome.  They are all extremely useful for trip planning, I think all of them are open source, and they didn’t cost the taxpayers a direct penny!  With TriMet offering this data I couldn’t help but wonder when the Green Line would show up as an active transit tracker route.  Well this Sunday it showed up, but also the Mall MAX showed up!  I was stunned, as I didn’t realize it would actually be referred to as an individual route, but it does make logical sense that it would.  To the right I have a shot of the MAX Green Line and Mall Shuttle showing up via the PDX Bus iPhone Application.

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17 Comments

  1. Magnificent.

    Rail line openings are always fun events. Seattle had one, Portland had another one, Dallas will open its own Green Line …

    … and L.A. will have its Gold Line extended to East L.A. We just don’t know when. It’s going through a stress test, and we’re having a WES-like problem with temperamental train cars (the new Bredas).

    Reply

  2. Wad – Do you have dates for those other openings Wad? I’d like to try and catch a few if I can. I already caught a ride up in Seattle, but wasn’t aware of the Dallas line coming up. I knew that they had something in the cooker though. 🙂

    Dave – 150 is the MAX Mall Alignment? Good to know that, I always like to know the numberings and such.

    Al M – Thx Al.

    Reply

  3. "I did notice that when the LRVs get to Clackamas TC the icon on the Type 4’s goes hot pink and then shows PSU as the next destination. Some of the arrivals however showed City Center as the destination instead of PSU."

    I think there are still some bugs in the automated passenger announcement system – that red LED display with the blue dot in the middle is supposed to be displayed on trains that service both (for example, train 25 used to be a blue line train, but would go red & service the airport at the end of the day, or some blue lines go to Hatfield and then when they get back to Beaverton Transit Center they become red). On Saturday I saw a set of 4s that should’ve been a Green train to PSU, but that LED display was blue. I could see it making sense if that train went to, say, Rose Quarter and then continued on to Old Town/Chinatown as a red or blue instead of going on the mall, but then it shouldn’t say PSU. So I think that’s just an error and not related to where that train is going.

    Oh, and that first train at 11:24 was actually late – it was supposed to leave PSU at 11:20 and be for the politicians & media & Twitter people but pretty much everyone piled on that train anyway 🙂

    Reply

  4. <i>It is possible though, as this mall is the first real suburban mall connected via MAX besides Pioneer Place Mall. This mall will really provide evidence that light rail can attract young riders that are the standard suburban mall bunnies (or whatever you would call them). If the line garners a high rider count of young people to and from the mall it could provide catalyst for even further expansion of light rail to these types of end points.</i>

    This is exactly the reason why WES should have never been built; instead TriMet should have built (with ZERO loss of bus service, I should add) a MAX line to Tualatin using the old Oregon Electric route from downtown Portland. The Green Line, well, doesn’t serve anything. It runs along a freeway. The potential for transit oriented development is very limited (unless you build UNDER the freeway)…

    Whereas – a MAX line from Portland to Tualatin would serve numerous, existant transit oriented developments – Multnomah Village, Garden Home, Washington Square, downtown Tigard, and downtown Tualatin. It would have been within spitting distance of Hillsdale and Lewis & Clark College. And Washington Square (mall) wouldn’t be the endpoint, but one of many destinations along the line (and a major transit center, along with Tigard TC and potentially downtown Tualatin).

    At least (for now, anyways) TriMet isn’t cutting line 72 service so we’ll see how ridership fares. However, it seems that TriMet is catering to the "park free and ride" crowd which IMO is counter-intuitive, rather than actually creating transit services that will encourage people to live and ride transit door-to-door, rather than use transit ONLY when convenient (i.e. when it’s free to park compared to paying $14 to park at the Garden).

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  5. "This is exactly the reason why WES should have never been built; instead TriMet should have built (with ZERO loss of bus service, I should add) a MAX line to Tualatin using the old Oregon Electric route from downtown Portland. "

    I don’t disagree with that at all. That would have been a VASTLY SUPERIOR alternative to blowing cash on the WES.

    The #72 route should be interesting though, because it doesn’t seem it would decline more than just a few points with the Green Line in place. Just the riders that are trying to go from some point to 82nd MAX stop (which there are definitely a LOT) may now avoid the bus and ride the Green Line. I estimate that if there IS a drop, which is very doubtful in my mind, that it won’t be more than 2-3% caused by the Green Line. Counter to that, I could imagine a slight increase with the Green Line in place.

    Reply

  6. The electronic LED Signs on the new type 4s alternate between "PSU" and "City Center", you have to stare at it for about 5 or 6 seconds and it flips between the two. I rode the Line on Tuesday, I got a T4 train Outbound and a T2 inbound, the T4 was without a doubt Louder than the T2 train (Track Noise). I dont know why, but it reminded me of riding BART in SF. ITs a cool sound I dont mind, but it did get as loud as BART does, which is not something I have ever noticed before on MAX, The bridges are loudest. And of course, the return trip was late. I ride the Streetcar into DT quite a bit (I Live in S Waterfront, so its sorta the best option) and XFER there at PSU, and its common for trains to be departing late out of there, I hope they work on fixing that problem, but the whole ride from PSU to CTC on Tuesday took 52 mins. You spend half of it getting out to Lloyd Center just about it seems. It will be interesting to see how it comes along.

    Reply

  7. Hey punkrawker4783. You are absolutely right, those new trains are much louder. I do have to clause that with, it depends entirely where you are on the cars. It seemed though, that through the tunnel they were relatively quite, but I was sitting in one of the car ends. Anywhere near the low floor area they are ridiculously loud over 30 mph.

    Interesting, didn’t realize you live in south waterfront. That’s an interesting trip.

    Reply

  8. Hey yelena, you should be able to find the schedules at any station the green line goes to. Just look at the display kiosks near the end of the platforms.

    Reply

  9. Hi ho.

    We rode on opening day with the crowds, but went back this last Sunday to ride bikes down the parallel bike paths from Gateway to Clackamas, about 45 minutes each way. We’re not in a hurry.

    The stations and the trains were for the most part empty. Clean, nice, new, but empty.

    I’ve never before had a reason to go to Clackamas, but now I’ve been there twice in under a month. Glad that’s over.

    Reply

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