New Commuters Hit the Rails Today in Metro Portland
"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."