I gave up my car over five years ago for public transportation and have used public transit options while living in Boston, NYC, Austin, Chicago, and now in PDX. They all have their benefits and drawbacks.
PDX has good bus service and while I take light rail for most of my traveling, PDX is not dense enough to make more effective use of it especially out of the city proper. Trains often run close to schedule (but not on, like in other cities, i.e. Tokyo) but are far and few inbetween out of rush schedule; 15 minutes between trains is unnaceptable. There should be digital displays at every light rail stop displaying the time and next arrival time (such as at Sunset and the Zoo stops). I would really like to see the busines plan and argument for the WES line. Whilst it may connect an un-connected segment of the region, it would seem that the audience is just not there to use this service. It may have been a decade or so ahead of its time.
The cost of a montly pass ($88) is feasible and consistant with other serivces throught the country. Compare this with owning a private vehicle and all the headaches that come with it (car payment, insurance, petrol, maintenance, etc.). Anyone who is having an issue with the cost most likely has underlying financial problems or hasn't been to other cities and used other transportation systems.
Shelters would be nice (especially semi-enclosed/heated ones like in Scandanavia) but the reality is PDX is a warm climate area - Having to wait out in the rain (use an umbrella!) for 10 minutes in 40 degree (F) is no problem. Dressing adequately will negate any complaints of "cold" weather (layer, scarves, gloves, hats, umbrella, thick winter jacket, not these thin plastic "outdoor" jackets that do not insulate).
I agree the safety issue is present at times. My fiancee who uses transit too often needs to be in early or leave later than a typical 8-5 job. If she knows ahead of time she'll be going in before 7am or getting out after 7pm, she'll drive. She doesn't feel safe at many of these stops due to the unruly homeless, druggies, and rude men that like to harrass people (some of this is a cultural aspect of PDX and does not occur in other cities in this country to the extent it does here).
Rail and bus need to work in a harmonous manor. You cannot service a large geographical area effectively with only type of service.
The systems is better in PDX than many other cities similiar in population and density but there is much room for improvement.
*[PDX = shorthand for portland proper and surrounding area]
posted 2 years, 6 months ago
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