The complete journey through Downtown Portland on TriMet’s Red Line from Kings Hill, next to Providence Park, to Oak/SW 1st, the point where the line turns and continues further east.
Westbound journey: https://youtu.be/BOptxVnIQIY
Side note: If you wish to hear the most Portland-sounding conversation in history, skip to 1:20 and watch to 6:00. It was fun listening to these guys, if a bit annoying, but sometimes you’ve got to listen to the public on public transportation.
TriMet and the City of Portland together operate a three-line streetcar system, mostly centered in and around Downtown. Two of the streetcar routes operate in a loop system, with the “A” loop going clockwise and the “B” loop going counterclockwise. The other North-South line runs from the Nob Hill/Alphabet District, east of Downtown, to South Waterfront, where it connects with the Portland Aerial Tram.
None of the streetcar lines used to be “loop” routes until September 2015, when at the same time the Orange Line opened, TriMet and the City of Portland finished the Tilikum Crossing bridge, or the “Bridge of the People,” used exclusively for transit and pedestrians. This allowed two of the light rail lines to cross the Willamette River twice throughout their route, creating the loop system we know today.
Portland’s new light rail system is one of the most successful transit projects undertaken by any city in America. The first line, the Blue Line, began construction in 1982 and was finished and opened on September 5, 1986. The original line ran from Cleveland, in Gresham, to Downtown Portland.
Over the next 30 years, a series of rapid transit expansion projects and new development ran through the Portland metro area. The Blue Line was extended to Hillsboro, west of Downtown, in 1998.
TriMet’s second line, the Red Line, opened in 2001 and brought service to Portland International Airport. Soon after this, TriMet, or Tri-Met as it was then known, switched to the current designations of each MAX light rail line by color.
The Yellow Line opened in 2004 and ran from Expo Center, near the Columbia River, to Downtown Portland. Originally it was routed on the same “loop” through Downtown as the Red and Blue Lines, but in 2009 it was permanently rerouted on a new north-south route through Downtown, creating the Portland Transit Mall, where each light rail line intersects with each other.
Around the same time the Yellow Line was rerouted, the Green Line opened in September 2009, from Clackamas, south of Portland, to Downtown, following the same routing as the Yellow Line through the Portland Transit Mall.
Jump forward six years later to 2015, when the fifth light rail line, the Orange Line, opened from Milwaukie, also south of Portland, to Downtown. The Orange and Yellow lines are inter-connected, where most, but not all, Orange line trains continue as Yellow line trains northbound, and Yellow line trains continue as Orange line trains southbound.
That brings us to the present day, with Portland’s five light rail lines, all operated by TriMet transporting over 100,000 people daily. But Portland wasn’t done with just building an extensive light rail system.
Early 2009 saw the opening of Portland’s first commuter rail line, from Beaverton Transit Center, where it connects with the Red and Blue Lines, to Wilsonville. Called WES, or Westside Express Service, this line is also operated by TriMet and has five stops along its 15-mile journey.
What does the future hold for Portland’s ever-expanding rail network? There are plans to build Portland’s first BRT (bus rapid transit) line, which would run from Downtown Portland to Gresham on a similar route with the Blue Line. This could potentially open by 2021.
There have been proposals by TriMet to build a new light rail line from Downtown to Tualatin, southwest of the city. If everything goes to plan, the public could be riding this line by 2025.
TriMet has hinted on a few other extensions with no formal planning yet, including the extension of either the Orange Line or the Green Line to Oregon City, further south. Another potential plan could be to extend the Blue Line further west to Forest Grove from Hillsboro.
After everything the City of Portland has done in the last 30 years, we know Portland certainly has a bright future for transportation. For a city of its size Portland has achieved much since the planning of its first light rail lines back in the 1970s and 80s.
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