MAXimum Congratulations

Even from 3,000 miles away, I can’t help remarking on the 20th anniversary of MAX!

215 million rides is nothing to sneeze at either.

Congratulations to TriMet for 20 years of operations and to all the leaders who helped make our light rail system happen.

5 responses to “MAXimum Congratulations”

  1. I’ll second that congratulations!

    I still remember my first ride on MAX… I just turned 6 and rode with my grandparents and my little brother (who was too young to remember), and I thought it was the greatest thing ever – even though it only ran between Downtown Portland and Gresham. Little did I know that 14 years later, I’d start to depend on public transit to get me where I needed or wanted to go.

    IMO, it’s too bad TriMet didn’t make more of an event out of the 20th anniversary for the common riders – at least have things for people to do along the MAX line on the weekend (like when Yellow Line opened), that type of thing.

    It would’ve been perfect for all of us to put away our collective differences about light rail on the transit mall, loud rude people that ride after dark, fare evaders, etc.; and remeber the last 20 years.

    Oh well.

  2. That’s not too bad for MAX, 215 Million that is. Should be higher though, it still only amounts to a small percentage of trips in the area.

    I look forward to seeing a day when it would reach 20-30% of the area trips and actually pay for operations. At least at minimum operations, I think wishing that transit would cover operations and capital costs as it did in the past is too much in this day and age of special interests being subsidized. Then I’ll really be proud of the system!

  3. It should be noted the first Max line also was combined with a highway project. The Banfield Freeway that was originally built in the 1950’s as a four lane freeway and had been modified into having six narrow lanes with no shoulders was upgraded to safety standards with six full width lanes, minimum shoulders and has probably carried a significant greater number of trips than Eastside Max.

    By combining the two projects into one, construction costs were shared for things like grading and over passes that provided cost benefits for both the highway and light rail portions of the project. The taking of property for right-of-way was minimal for a project of this size. Keeping the property taking to a minimum and many of the ideas that led to the cost sharing can be attributed to submissions presented by what was then a new model in planning, the Citizens Advisory Committee. This committee had a considerable amount of discretion in presenting suggestions and ideas that were not only taken seriously, but ultimately made it into the final product. This includes placing a light rail line back on the table that originally only went from downtown to Gateway. A committee member came up with the idea of extending it all the way to Gresham along its present route.

    By comparison, the participants of the Citizen Advisory Committees of today must pass a test to insure they agree with the concept being presented and then are spoon fed information by planners, bureaucrats and politicians having only limited opportunity to present new ideas or do much more than approve or reject the already course of action plans. The political ideology is to control the process by suppressing differing ideas rather than allowing truly open citizen participation. This censorship is probably one reason why a there have not been any additional multi-modal cost sharing projects at the same scale as the combined Banfield project. Politics gets in the way of taxpayer funded efficiency.

    As for my first ride on MAX (the system was named through a contest – MAX meaning Metropolitan Express) was on a couple of evening test runs related to a convention between the Lloyd Center and Gateway before the system officially opened. I also rode on the second section of the inaugural trains with the non-speaking dignitaries on opening day. The first train was reserved for TriMet officials and the high ranking dignitaries that were making speeches at various stops along the route from Gresham to Pioneer Square.

  4. Every MAX expansion has been combined with highway expansions. Since ’86 the Banfield has been widened to Troutdale to 3 lanes; I-5 north was widened to 3 lanes except for southbound over the Slough; 26 continues to be widened to 3 lanes to at least 185th.
    The amazing thing about the MAX system for me is the fact that you can be standing at Pioneer Courthouse Sq…take a couple of steps onto a train, then doze off or read a section of the paper…and you are in Beaverton. Read another article or two and you are in Orenco; check the sports page and you are in downtown Hillsboro.
    I suspect that some opposition to the north and south…Clark and Clackamas counties…has been due to the very fact that MAX is so successful in linking the region together. Some of us prefer a little more distance from our bretheren.

  5. I remember riding MAX with my parents the day it opened 20 years ago. I was eight years old. The MAX was hot and packed and I hated every second of it. I’ve since come to love MAX. But it was a rough beginning.

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