The Portland light rail system is the pride and joy of the city of Portland. No other city in the United States can compare to our public transportation system...in my humble opinion...but, it's true! ;)
When it comes to getting people where they need to go in an enjoyable, efficient and cost-effective manner, we have it down to an art form and MAX (Metropolitan Area Xpress) is the proverbial jewel in our crown.
Riding a MAX train is a hoot for me. It's just cooler than riding the bus because it's something you don't get the chance to experience every day in most parts of the country. Buses are a dime a dozen; light rails are not. I think I enjoy it so much because I know I'm a part of something quite unique here in the States.
There are presently 5 Portland light rail lines that will transport you to different parts of the city and beyond: the Green Line, travels from Clackamas, E/SE Portland, through the downtown area, ending up at the campus of Portland State University, the Blue Line, which travels from Hillsboro to the City Center and on into Gresham, the Red Line, serving Beaverton, City Center and the Portland airport, and the Yellow Line, running through City Center and on toward the Portland Expo Center.
The Orange Line moves people from the PSU area over to the SE side of Portland, including Oak Grove and Milwaukie. It travels over the Tilikum Crossing bridge, which spans the Willamette River and only carries public transit, pedestrians, and cyclists. No personal vehicles are allowed.
Download a Portland light rail system map right here (PDF, right click and Save-As)
In order to hop on a light rail train, you need to purchase a ticket online or at any of the MAX ticketing stations throughout the city. It's as easy as grabbing a single ticket and go wherever you want, all day long!
You can also get various passes, so you don't have to worry about having fare money on you each time. You can find the light rail fare prices right here.
The Lift service is a public transportation service, separate from the busses and MAX, for people with physical or mental disabilities.
Insert your money or swipe your debit or credit card, validate the ticket and climb aboard. MAX trains run every 15 minutes or so and your validated ticket, which serves as your proof of purchase. You can not only use it on MAX, but also the buses and the Portland Streetcar.
I know that it should be a no-brainer, but make sure you do pay and your ticket is valid. The fines are pretty stiff if you're caught. Not that you would do that purposely, right?
For customer service and ride information, you can call 503-238-RIDE (7433). You can also visit the MAX portion of the Tri Met web site.
Another wonderful way of routing your trips on the MAX trains is by using the Tri Met Interactive Trip Map. Finally, if you have a smart phone such as an iPhone, Android, etc, hit up the TriMet App Center and find something that fits your wants and needs.
You can find other mobile apps related to Portland and to help you in your adventures on my Portland smartphone apps page.
So, that's the quick and dirty of riding the Portland light rail system. Enjoy your trip! ;)