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Metropolitan Area Express (Portland, Oregon)

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Metropolitan Area Express (MAX) is a light rail system in Portland, Oregon. It is operated by TriMet.

MAX is one of two light rail systems in Portland; the other is the Portland Streetcar. MAX trains are larger and faster, and cover greater distances than the streetcar system.

Table of contents

Lines

There are currently two MAX lines, with a third line under construction.

Portland MAX Light Rail Lines
Line Name Color Outlying Terminus Opened Length # Stations
Eastside Blue Cleveland Ave (Gresham) 1986 15 mi (24 km) 29
Westside Blue Hatfield Government Center (Hillsboro) 1998 18 mi (29 km) 20
Airport Red Airport 2001 5.5 mi (8.9 km)* 4
Interstate Yellow Expo Center 2004
(planned)
5.8 mi (9.3 km)* 10
Totals 44.3 mi (71.3 km) 63
* Length shown does not include a shared segment with Eastside MAX

The central terminus for all lines is Pioneer Square. Although the Blue Line is technically one line, its routes and construction history effectively divide it into two lines (Eastside and Westside).

Mode of operation

The MAX system operates in several different modes.

  • In the central city trains run in mixed traffic on surface streets, similar to a streetcar (although there is a separate streetcar system, the Portland Streetcar).

  • Outside the central city MAX has its own right-of-way. Older track segments are controlled by traffic signals at intersections. Newer segments are fully grade-separated or have controlled crossings to give trains the right-of-way.

  • One 3 mile (4.8 km) section operates as a subway below Washington Park. This section has only one station, which is 260 feet (79 m) below ground-level – the deepest transit station in North America.

Rolling stock

There are currently two models of MAX cars.

The original Type 1 cars were manufactured by Bombardier Corporation and featured a raised floor with steps at the doors. The interior design was similar to that of a bus.

With the opening of Westside MAX in 1998, new Type 2 cars made by Siemens were introduced. These cars have a low-floor design, digital readerboards, and open floor plan. The floor is level with streetside platforms, greatly simplyfing access and eliminating the need for wheelchair lifts[?].

The trains operate in one- or two-car consists. MAX trains can't be longer than two cars because Portland's downtown blocks are only about 200 feet (61 m) long. The MAX cars are about 90 feet (27.5 m) long, so a train consisting of more than two cars would block intersections.

Portland MAX Light Rail Cars
Designation Manufacturer First Used Max Capacity # in Fleet
Type 1 Bombardier 1986 256 26
Type 2 Siemens 1998 261 52
Type 3 Siemens 2004
(planned)
unknown 17
(on order)

Train frequency

Airport trains run every 15 minutes from 5 AM to 11:30 PM. Blue Line trains run every 10 minutes (15 minutes late nights and Sundays). Actual schedules vary by location and time of day. At most stations a live readerboard shows the destination and time-to-arrival of the next several trains.

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