Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Not Surprisingly, Light Rail is Fun!

Photo by Kyle Pohll

My boys and I found ourselves in Portland on Sunday. We were visiting my father-in-law who suffered an aneurism last month. His recover is very slow, and my wife wanted to spend an extended amount of time with him. After about an hour, the boys and I decided to explore the mass-transportation system of Portland.

It seemed like forever before I felt confident enough to actually feed money to a machine for the ability to ride the MAX trains. The concept of copying the actions of others seemed like a good plan, but it appears that most Portlanders know exactly what to do or have the system in their pocket. It may be literal as many folks had one of a variety of passes.

Eventually, I settled in on an all day ticket for $4.25 ($12.75 for the three of us). Man, that has got to be better than a movie for the boys and I! As we got on, and started watching people and the closer we got to the Rose Quarter we got, the more interesting the people watching became. As we crossed the Willamette River into downtown, the variety of people became very apparent. For a couple of boys from a small town, I could just hear what was going through their minds as hair was often more colorful than clothes.

Downtown Portland's Pioneer Square was just one of the beautiful parts of the city.

We rode the MAX as far west as the Sunset Station in Beaverton. The route includes a tunnel that must be about 4 miles long. About halfway through the bore is the subway stop at the Washington Park Zoo. We then climbed aboard a “Blue Line train” to Gresham on the far east end of the metro area.

A MAX train pulls into the Sunset Station in Beaverton. Photo by Kyle Pohll

It is clear that mass transit is going to be a significant part of our future. Many people in metropolitan areas currently enjoy the convenience, but those in rural areas need to realize that cars are not life. If only local governments would start realizing the need is not just in the city anymore.

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