After work, just for kicks, I decided to check out how that Green Line Ridership was for the 6:18pm Departure from PSU. I headed out of office a few minutes before I took up a stand at the north bound Pioneer Square Stop. There was a Wackenhut Transit Security staffer standing on the platform, who walked by me and directed a guy to stop sitting on the MAX stop curb. The individual was sitting there, not bothering a soul, with his legs in the street. I could understand the reasoning, but, the way the security guy said it, “There’s plenty of courthouse you don’t need to sit there” made him out as rather crass. No smoothness about that action.
A few moments later a beautiful young lady was asking some of the street kids where Satyricon is, which surprisingly none of them knew. So I asked her as she walked her model self my direction, "did they tell you where it is?" to which she replied, "naw, they didn’t know". I smiled and gave a quick direction of, “either jump on the MAX coming and get off the third stop from here, or just keep walking”. She replied with a smile, “oh cool, thanks, but I think I’ll walk I need to walk”. When she walked away toward Satyricon I was fine with that. She was, after all, one of those painstakingly beautiful young ladies.
After she waltzed off I boarded the Green Line at 6:20pm. In short order we began rolling and came to the next stop. There she boarded and spotted me. I told her, “you sure didn’t make it very far” with some jest. She pulled the cranked ear phones thrashing metal from the speaker buds and said, “I know, but do you see what I’m wearing”. She pulled up her high heeled boots she was wearing and displayed them to me as she walked over. She sat down and we chatted about the bands that where playing. Crew (?spelling) and two others. Local bands, and jeez it made me feel geezerly not knowing what the heck was up with the younger scene. It seems if it isn’t one of the big metal acts out of Europe I tend not to have a clue as to what a band is.
We rolled on, I pointed out Satyricon to the young lady to which she bounced off, euphoric as to achieving her destination. Again, we rolled on from there, to the next stop, on through the turn at Union Station and across the cross over and stopped at the light. There we stopped and waited a moment for the signal to turn. The Steele Bridge held steady to our left as a Union Pacific freight inched across the bridge. Her horns starting to blare, causing some of the nearby runners to pay a little more attention.
We pulled up onto the bridge without delay as the signal switched and made it across and into the Rose Quarter. This was definitely smoother than opening day. At this point the train started to gain a number of passengers, but barely any where heading to Clackamas. Most were conversing and I was able to ascertain that about 5-6 people on the car I was on were heading to Clackamas, or along that line. Everyone else aboard, which numbered about 40 people, were headed somewhere within the Banfield Corridor between Lloyd Center out to Gateway Transit Center.
Clearing the Lloyd Center stop we cruised out at top speed toward 42nd Avenue. Without a blink we pulled in and gained a half dozen riders and shed about the same. The time read 6:42pm as we made our way, passing or passing traffic on I-84. At this time of day, and with the sour job market a factor, there was little traffic along I-84. The interesting bit is, if one were to do the math, with our three lines carrying passengers, the MAX with its one track was matching the number of people in that 3 lanes of Interstate Traffic. When in full use, the 3 lanes absolutely carries more than the single lane of light rail traffic, but right the fact was there wasn’t that many people traveling along the corridor.
We pulled into Gateway and there were several officers, passengers, and others loitering about waiting for buses, light rail, or to depart across the way toward the shopping areas. We got rid of a few passengers but gained an easy 20 at this stop. That put us up to an easy 55-60 people.
The traffic on I-205 was a slightly different story than the I-84 traffic. It wasn’t much different, but it was a little lighter along this corridor. Considering the traffic, general activity, and almost chaos of just 1-2 years ago this lower traffic demand is surreal.
The Green Line LRV Set made it about 1000ft from Gateway and stopped. It appeared that a fare inspector detrained or maybe he was already there? I’m not sure, but it was somewhat strange that he was standing there between the LRV Set as we rolled away after stopping.
At the next stop the friendly Mexican Family detrained. They were smiling and talking in their native language, which always puts my mono-lingual mind at a disadvantage. I did however pick up a few of the kind words and chit chat they were having among themselves. It is refreshing to hear conversation like this, calm, caring, among a family. The one factual bit I had picked up, was that they were headed to Target.
We pulled into the Division Station in a few seconds and on into the Powell Station. I was going to detrain at the Powell Station, but I decided to head on down and detrain at the Foster Station and jump on a #14, which I would then take and switch to Powell and get a #9 at that point. Being I have seen the Powell Street Stop before, and its rather long transfer path, I figured it was time to check out the Foster Stop and see how that stop area was shaping up.
I took a walk down to the Lents/Foster stop area, and began my wait for the #14 west bound. I walked along Foster instead of immediately boarding the waiting #14. I must admit, this is a super easy and comfortable transfer point with the #14, and #10 if it is there, sit waiting to depart. Often one can board the bus there and wait inside the bus. This will be a bonus for people transferring here when it gets cold.
The area has a somewhat small town center feel to it, not sure if it is considered a town center, but sure seems that it is. There are several shops and such, a bakery around the corner, and a cafe just a block or so down the street from the stop.
The #14 came along in no less than a minute or so of my reaching the first bus stop I came to. I stepped aboard with one other waiting passenger. She was a strangely frumpy thing, but smiled with the warmth of a friendly stranger. By approximately 60th we had about 11 people aboard. As we pulled into the newly growing and lively 60th street area we gained a few more.
This area, has really surprised me over the last 2 years. 2 Years ago there was barely 1-2 store fronts out of 20+ that had operative businesses. Now, in the depth of this new depression, this street had maybe 2-3 empty store fronts out of the 20+ that are along this street. In addition, along the edges of the area, around 63rd running east and 58th running west, store fronts have been rebuilt. These places now host operating businesses. Overall it makes for a truly growing and lively area. Food choices from Vietnamese Bakery to Hawaiian Barbecue.
We rolled by the famous Devil’s Point and onto the transfer point at Powell for the #9. I strolled off of the bus and over to the 52nd & Powell stop for my transfer point wait time. I checked via transit tracker to see what the ETA was, which shot me back a 6 minute estimate. I decided that was fine to just wait, if it had been 10 or more minutes, I’d have pulled the laptop out and continued typing at this very entry.
The homeward bound #9 arrived with one of the regular drivers.
He nodded as I boarded with my pass, and I walked around the guy continuing to count change for his fare. I took a seat and whipped the laptop out for this last segment of my trip.
After barely a paragraph or two I found myself in another conversation with a few of the riders. The topic was of a general nature about what was along this route. I gladly provided some tidbits about what they where looking for.
Wanderlust quenched I arrived home, and that was my commute home, around about east side Portland.
Ya know, you really should consider getting a job as a writer for one of the transit magazines.