New Commuters Hit the Rails Today in Metro Portland

Portland's new Westside Express Service officially opens today, carrying passengers from Beaverton to Wilsonville. The Oregonian calls it, "a punch of hard-rolling rust-and-grease."

"I hopped on one of the polished diesel trains last Wednesday for the inaugural ride carrying dignitaries and members of the local news media. After the round trip, I stepped off with mixed feelings about Oregon's first commuter-rail experiment.

Sure, the ride itself was everything that TriMet promised: fast, comfortable, clean and efficient, all with a free, lightning-fast Wi-Fi connection. Yet the experience, built along 14.7 miles of freight tracks in Washington County, seemed out of sync with public transit in our laid-back, mossy part of the world.

In a community used to planning and playing around the polite whisper of light rail, WES is a punch of hard-rolling rust-and-grease commuting that's more Chicago than Tualatin. I also couldn't shake the feeling that the $166 million project has become a shiny distraction from TriMet's nagging problems, ranging from malfunctioning fare machines to obvious bus-service gaps in the suburbs."

Full Story: Beaverton to Wilsonville, via Chi-town



It can't be all bad

Hey, if it reduces VMT, it can't be all bad.

Yes it can

I'm not familiar with the specifics of this line, but commuter rail can act as an enabler for exurban development (like in Chicago). Plus, if ridership doesn't materialize, then it can burn more fuel than the cars it replaces. It obviously has the potential to promote smart growth and reduce emissions, but it has to be done right.

That said, I'm sure that Trimet has done the analyses of impacts and was careful to mitigate potential negative ones. But don't just assume that transit of any type and any place is a net positive, it has to be done right.

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