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Summary of Tri-Met trip report

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James D. Umbach

Apr 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM4/15/98

This is a summary of my impressions of Tri-Met, the bus system serving
Portland, Oregon and the surrounding area. The full report can be
read at There are no
pictures on the web site at the moment, but I do hope to add them
within the next week or so--right after they come back from the

If you do not have web access and would like a copy of the report,
please e-mail me and I'll send one to you via e-mail. Be advised it
is very long.



I was impressed totally with Tri-Met. I noticed that scheds were
easily available, even at fast-food places and delis. My hotel room
had a MAX schedule waiting for me upon check in! I also noticed
Tri-Met ads on television (not that I watched a whole lot). Somewhat
ironically, Tri-Met also sponsors the morning traffic reports.

Even though a major bridge across the Willamette is closed, Tri-Met
did an excellent job adjusting its schedules to the new route. Other
than the 5-Interstate not showing up, I had absolutely no problems at
all with late buses or missed connections. Every single driver I met
was very knowledgable and friendly. They certainly didn't mind
telling out-of-towners how to use the system and were very patient
with me as a learner. Unlike in Los Angeles, Portland's ZONE system
is very easy to figure out. The zone boundaries are marked right on
the timetables.

One curiosity: I noticed that on the transfers and day passes, there
is no day marked. They instead use a "day code," which is two of
eight (or ten?) letters on the transfer punched. They are also color
coded. I thought it would be much simpler just to have a date-punch
or print the day on the transfers. I wonder why they do the "code"
system. It is neat, though, how the transfer is good for unlimited
boardings until it expires.

The only gripe I have with Tri-Met is with its bus book. They sell a
book with all the schedules for $1.50, but there ARE NO ROUTE MAPS!
IMHO, a schedule without a map is worthless. It may be nice if I
happen to be traveling between two timepoints, but I'd like to know
exactly where the bus goes along the way. The fold-out map that comes
with the bus book is really too bulky to carry around all day.
However, the individual timetables do have route maps, so I guess this
is a very minor gripe. Still a nuiscence.

IN SUMMARY, Portland's Tri-Met earns an "A+" from me. This knocks
Modesto, California out of place as my favorite overall transit
system. A new valedictorian has taken the stage. I do hope to get
back up to Portland either late in '98 or early in '99 to ride the new
Westside MAX, due to open this September.

James D. Umbach | apostle (at)
Citrus Heights, California | my web site:

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