25 February 2008

Light Rail PDX

OK. My second post about Portland rail will explain the Light Rail system. First listen to the terminology: light rail. It may be lighter that a locomotive, but the light rail struck me as heavy, especally compared to the Streetcar.

Here is a train pulling up to a stop on a city street:

Instead of raising, just the area, where the stop is (as with the streetcar), for the trains, the entire sidewalk is raised to exactly meet the train floor:

In this photo, notice that the curb closest to the camera is raised with truncated domes and it sticks out a bit further than the rest of the curb. Also notice that there is no on-street parking here, and that there are only 2 drving lanes. This was probably a four lane street before conversion to Light Rail:

My experience is that the streets with the lightrail had lots of pedestrians and less car traffic. However, please note that the entire street, from building face to building face must be re-built to accomodate the LR. For the streetcar, only a strip of street is removed and only the stops are raised.

Here is a shot that I believe shows the Light Rail tracks crossing the Streetcar tracks:

LR at Pioneer Square showing the widened sidewalks:

People getting on and off at Pioneer Square:

Showing level entry and bike inside:

Inside a crowded train:

Another interior shot:

Wheelchair on LR train:

Stroller on LR train:

We took the Blue line three different places. First we took it west, out to Orenco, a newer suburb. Then we came back into town and on the way stopped at their zoo. The next day we took the train the other direction, to the airport. The train runs extremely smooth. After getting out of town, and off the streets to separated grade tracks, I was initially dissapointed, because the train didn't seem to be going very fast. Later, I noticed that the we were keeping pace with cars on the freeway, so it must have been going at least 50mph.

This western route passes their minor league team stadium a few blocks before going into a long sloping tunnel:

Here is a development at the Beaverton Stop:

Bagel shop, parking lot and housing at another suburban stop:

Here is multi-family housing under construction near the stop:

Here is the train at the Orenco stop:

In this shot you see the suburban street and sidewalks crossing the tracks:

Train discharge at the airport:

Here is a picture of the train maintenance building. The sheds for the streetcar were much smaller:

Here is a train parked at the maintenance yards. I think the typical train is two of these backed up to each other:

The fare system is similar to the Streetcar, and all tickets are transferable to bus and rail. The trains seemed very popular, especially to the airport. I made the trip to Orenco on a Sunday so I didn't witness much commuting. Most of the people were getting off at the Washington Park stop to go to the zoo or to hike.


Radarman said...

The new development at the stops is very similar to that I saw at the stops on the San Jose light rail. It was clear from a meeting yesterday morning with John Cranley to try to soften his opposition to the current streetcar plan that he had no understanding of development other than large subsidized projects.

justforview said...

This really puts light rail into perspective. I think that it is amazing that it can run through city streets and then along the interstate out to the burbs. It seems like a mix between Boston's streetcar, subway and commuter rail.

The development that you showed seemed relatively dense for the type of area I assume it is in. Can you elaborate on the density of the outlying areas and whether Cincinnati has similar density in similar areas.

I was surprised by the TOD style of the Beaverton stop versus the more conventional multifamily development you showed.