Whether you’re visiting without a vehicle, commuting to work, or transiting around town, Portland, Oregon offers a variety of transportation options that make getting around as easy as one, two, Trimet. (bad joke)
Before you work out which method of transportation to take, consider the following:
- Portland has the smallest city blocks in the nation. Ten Portland (200-ft) blocks, would be equivalent to about five standard (400-ft) city blocks. So, when Google maps says your destination is 10 blocks away, keep in mind it’s not as far as it seems, and walking may actually be your best bet.
- Portland is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the nation. So, if you care about the planet – or, you know, don’t want to pay for parking – traveling by bike is also a great option.
If it happens to be raining, which it does a lot here (as you may have heard), or if you prefer something quicker than two feet and two wheels, here are my top transportation recommendations:
Car2Go is currently my preferred method of transportation, and therefore top recommendation. I just discovered the service a couple of weeks ago and I absolutely love it! The service distributes a fleet of Smart fortwo cars on the road, and you rent them by the minute (or hour, or day). You can pick up and drop off a Car2Go anywhere within the home area. No designated parking spots, no waiting for the next bus/streetcar/MAX, and no paying for parking (mind = blown). The Portland cars even have bike racks on them.
Cars can be located, reserved, and activated through the Car2Go smartphone app. The keys are inside the car, and all your information (from payment information down to which radio station you were listening to on your last ride) is saved in your member profile. So literally all you need to do is get in, go, and park. Super convenient, right?
Car2go is in 15 cities throughout the US and Canada (as well as 15+ additional cities in Europe), and once you’re registered with the service, you can use it anywhere. If you would like to avoid the homeless and hipsters who occupy Portland public transit, Car2go is a great alternative.
(When signing up, save by using my promo code: [email protected])
The Portland Streetcar is a popular method of transportation, that some Portlanders use by choice, while others use by necessity. This juxtaposition is evident through the socio-economically diverse ridership onboard at any given time. Regardless of one’s feelings towards Trimet, there’s no denying its necessity.
While it doesn’t take long to notice most people riding the streetcar don’t buy tickets, “proof of valid fare is required.” So, if you’re painfully honest like myself, you can download and buy streetcar tickets on the PDX Streetcar mobile app, or purchase tickets at each stop. You can view the Streetcar map / routes here.
The Westside Streetcars run on a continuous 8-mile loop, making 46 stops throughout the Pearl District, the Alphabet District, PSU, the Waterfront and more. While the Eastside route takes passengers from the Pearl District to the Lloyd District and Southeast Waterfront by OMSI. In 2015, the city opened Tilikum crossing, the nation’s only bridge dedicated to non-automobile transportation (such as lightrail, buses, bikes, and pedestrians).
While the Streetcar is good for getting around certain Portland neighborhoods, the Max, (or, lightrail, as out-of-towners call it), services a much wider range. It connects Portland City Center with Beaverton, Clackamas, Gresham, Hillsboro, Milwaukie, North / Northeast Portland, and the Portland Airport. The MAX line consists of five different Light Rails that run 15 minutes most of the day, everyday.
Similar to the Streetcar, riders are supposed to purchase a ticket at any of the MAX ticketing before riding. The MAX also has a mobile app through which you can purchase tickets or route your trips.
Additional Transportation Options:
- Uber (when in doubt, Uber)
- Bus (to get anywhere the Max and Streetcar don’t go)
- Taxi (if you’re into that)