MAX Light Rail
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MAX Light Rail

MAX Light Rail
TriMet MAX logo.svg
Tilikum Crossing with streetcar and MAX train in 2016.jpg
Ad-free MAX train of two Type 2 cars on Steel Bridge in 2015.jpg
Top: A MAX train and a Portland Streetcar tram traversing Tilikum Crossing
Bottom: A westbound Type 2 Blue Line train crossing the Steel Bridge
Area servedClackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties
LocalePortland, Oregon, U.S.
Transit typeLight rail
Number of lines5
Number of stations97 (3 closing in March 2020)
Daily ridershipDecrease 120,900 (as of 2019)[1]
Annual ridershipDecrease 38,817,600 (as of 2019)[1]
WebsiteMAX Light Rail
Began operationSeptember 5, 1986; 33 years ago (1986-09-05)
Number of vehicles145[2]
System lengthApproximately 60 mi (96.6 km)[2]
Track gauge
Electrification750 V DC, overhead catenary[3]

MAX Light Rail (for Metropolitan Area Express) is a light rail system in Portland, Oregon, United States, that is owned and operated by TriMet. Consisting of five lines over a 59.7-mile (96.1 km) network, it serves 97 stations, connecting the North, Northeast, and Southeast sections of Portland; the suburban communities of Beaverton, Clackamas, Gresham, Hillsboro, and Milwaukie; and Portland International Airport to Portland City Center. With an average daily ridership of 120,900 and nearly 39 million annual riders in 2019, MAX is the fourth-busiest light rail system in the United States after comparable light rail services in Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco. Lines run on all days of the week with frequent headways of 15 minutes to as short as five minutes during rush hour.

Among the first second-generation American light rail systems to be built, MAX was conceived as a result of freeway revolts that took place in Portland in the early 1970s. Construction of the network's inaugural eastside segment, then known as the Banfield light rail project, began in 1982 and completed for the line to commence service on September 5, 1986. The system has since expanded through six subsequent extension projects that have built upon the original line, with the Portland-Milwaukie Line, opened in 2015, as its latest extension. Future expansion plans include extending Red Line service further west to Hillsboro in 2023 and, if funding is approved by voters in 2020, a proposed extension through Southwest Portland and Tigard to Tualatin, referred to as the Southwest Corridor light rail project, is scheduled to open in 2027.

MAX is one of three urban rail transit services operating in the Portland metropolitan area, with the other two being the Portland Streetcar and WES Commuter Rail. It provides direct connections to additional modes of public transportation, including local and intercity buses at most stations and Amtrak via Portland Union Station.



An Oregon Electric train seen in Beaverton

In the early 20th century, privately-funded interurban railways gave Portland one of the largest urban rail systems in the American West, including lines that once extended from Forest Grove to Troutdale and Vancouver, Washington to Eugene.[4]:7-8[5] Portland's first trolleys, initially drawn by horse and mule, were introduced in 1872. They were brought over from San Francisco by Ben Holladay. In 1890, the first electric streetcar service opened in Albina, operated by the Willamette Bridge Railway Company, and the first cable car began running along 5th Avenue in Portland; these lines marked the start of an era of major streetcar line expansion.[6] The East Side Railway Company built the city's first long-distance interurban line in 1892, a 16-mile (25.7 km) route between Portland and Oregon City.[7] The Portland Railway, Light and Power Company took over all local streetcars by 1906,[8] and interurban operations by 1908.[9]:93 In 1912, as Portland's population exceeded 250,000, transit ridership rose to 70 million passengers annually.[4]:8 Streetcars started to decline by the 1920s, in line with the rise of the automobile and suburban and freeway development.[4]:9 The region's last two interurban lines, which went to Oregon City and Bellrose (Southeast 136th Avenue), ceased operation in 1958.[9]:61, 93[4]:10

Early beginnings

An original Bombardier light rail train entering the 11th Avenue turnaround loop in 1987

At the height of local freeway revolts in the 1970s, TriMet began a study for mass transit using funds made available by the passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973.[4]:20 The funds had been intended for the Mount Hood Freeway and Interstate 505 (I-505) projects,[4]:30 which were abandoned amid strong opposition from the city government and various neighborhood associations.[10][11] A separate task force assembled by Governor Tom McCall helped determine several options, including a busway and light rail.[12] The busway alternative had originally been favored by the Highway Division,[13] but support for light rail prevailed following the mode's inclusion in a 1977 environmental impact statement.[14] The proposal became known as the Banfield light rail project, named for the Banfield Freeway, a segment of I-84, that part of the alignment followed. TriMet approved the project in September 1978.[15] Construction of the 15.3-mile (24.6 km), 27-station route between 11th Avenue in downtown Portland and Cleveland Avenue in Gresham started in March 1982,[16] and the line opened on September 5, 1986.[17] Less than two months before opening, TriMet adopted the name Metropolitan Area Express, or MAX, for the new system following an employee contest.[18]

A Blue Line train at Hatfield Government Center station in Hillsboro

As the planning of a light rail line to the west side gained momentum in the mid-1980s, the original MAX line came to be referred to as the Eastside MAX, so as to distinguish it from what would become the Westside MAX extension.[19] Early proposals called for this extension to terminate near 185th Avenue, just west of the border between Beaverton and Hillsboro.[20] A dispute over a financing plan suspended the project for several years,[21] but planning resumed in 1988 and studies were completed by 1991.[20] Staunch lobbying by local and state officials, led by Hillsboro Mayor Shirley Huffman, forced an extension of the line further west to downtown Hillsboro in 1993.[22] Construction of the 18-mile (29 km) line began in August 1993, with the excavation of the Robertson Tunnel.[23] The extension opened in two stages following delays in construction: from 11th Avenue to Kings Hill/Southwest Salmon Street in 1997, and then to Hatfield Government Center, the present western terminus, in 1998.[24] The resulting 33-mile (53 km) MAX line began operating as a single, through service on September 12, 1998.[25] It became the Blue Line in 2001, after TriMet adopted color designations for its separate light rail routes.[26]

South-North proposal

In the mid-1980s, Metro regional government announced plans to introduce light rail to Clackamas County. They initially proposed two separate routes: one between downtown Portland and Oregon City via Milwaukie, and another between Portland International Airport and Clackamas Town Center via I-205.[27] The plans' studies received funding from the federal government, which stipulated the inclusion of various route extensions to Clark County, Washington.[28][29] Metro completed these studies in 1993.[30] It finalized a single line from Hazel Dell, Washington south to Clackamas Town Center via Milwaukie.[31][32] TriMet formally named this the South-North Line.[4]:80

A $475million ballot measure to fund Oregon's share of the South-North Line project was passed by Portland area voters in November 1994.[4]:80 In February 1995, however, Clark County residents defeated a tax measure that would have funded Washington's portion.[33] This prompted TriMet to downsize the plan and abandon the line's Clark County and North Portland segments up to the Rose Quarter.[34] In July 1995, the Oregon House of Representatives approved a $750million transportation package that included $375 million for the scaled-back line.[35] This was subsequently nullified by the Oregon Supreme Court due to the inclusion of unrelated measures,[36] which violated the state's Constitution.[37] The legislature met again in February 1996 to pass a revised $375 million package,[36] which opponents defeated in a statewide vote the following November.[38] A third proposal followed, placing the line between Lombard Street in North Portland and Clackamas Town Center.[39] Metro and TriMet elected to pursue this project without seeking contributions from either Clark County or the state; they would instead source funding from Clackamas County and Portland. In 1998, TriMet placed a new ballot measure to reaffirm voter support for the originally-approved $475million funds.[4]:80 The measure failed by 52 percent in November of that year, effectively canceling the proposed line.[40]

Airport and Interstate lines

A Red Line train at Skidmore Fountain station

Compelled by the rapid expansion of Portland International Airport in the 1990s, Port of Portland officials sought solutions to alleviate worsening congestion,[41] including the possibility of introducing MAX service,[42] which regional planners did not anticipate until around 2010.[43] In 1997, engineering firm Bechtel accelerated plans with the submission of an unsolicited proposal to design and build this extension.[42][44] A public-private partnership between the company and local governments was negotiated and the Airport MAX project began construction in June 1999.[4]:82[45] With no federal assistance requested and right-of-way already secured,[4]:82 the four-station, 5.5-mile (8.9 km) extension, between Gateway/Northeast 99th Avenue Transit Center and Portland International Airport station, opened for Red Line service on September 10, 2001.[46][47] Celebrations scheduled for that weekend were canceled in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, which occurred the following day.[48] The Red Line originally ran between the airport and the Library and Galleria stations, turning around at the 11th Avenue loop tracks.[49] On September 1, 2003, it was extended west to Beaverton Transit Center to relieve overcrowding on the Blue Line and to create a one-seat airport connection for the west side.[50]

A Yellow Line train approaching the Steel Bridge

In 1999, Portland business leaders and residents protested the cancellation of the South-North Line. They argued that despite the project's defeat in regional polls, Multnomah County voters supported it.[51][52] With extensive input from the community, TriMet developed a new proposal that would expand light rail service solely to North Portland, from the Rose Quarter to the Portland Expo Center via North Interstate Avenue.[53] TriMet moved forward with this plan, referring to it as the Interstate MAX project. It broke ground in February 2001.[54] To minimize costs, the City of Portland created an urban renewal district,[55] and federal matching funds were allocated from the Airport MAX and Portland Streetcar projects, which had been locally funded.[56] The Interstate MAX opened on May 1, 2004; its new service designated the Yellow Line.[57] From 2004 to 2009, the Yellow Line ran from Expo Center station in North Portland to 11th Avenue in downtown Portland, following the Blue and Red lines' downtown alignment from the Steel Bridge. On August 30, 2009, it was rerouted to the terminate at the PSU South stations after the addition of light rail to the Portland Transit Mall.[58] The Yellow Line became interlined with the Orange Line in 2015; it now only operates the northbound segment of the transit mall.[59]

South Corridor extensions

A pair of Green Line trains at Clackamas Town Center Transit Center

In 2001, Metro conducted two studies that revisited light rail in Clackamas County: one from Gateway Transit Center to Clackamas Town Center via Interstate 205, and the other from downtown Portland to Milwaukie via the Hawthorne Bridge.[60] Both proposals were approved in 2003.[61][62] The I-205/Portland Mall light rail project began in January 2007 with the reconstruction of the Portland Transit Mall.

Future plans

TriMet works with local jurisdictions and other agencies to identify and recommend priority transit projects, which are then included in Metro's Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). The 2018 RTP is the plan's latest iteration and it lists three separate funding scenarios that divide the region's proposals into three priority levels. The highest priority projects, referred to as "2027 Constrained", are proposals that the region expects to have funding for by 2027. The "2040 Constrained" lists projects that fit within the region's planned budget through 2040, while the "2040 Strategic" are projects that may be built if additional funding becomes available.[63]:5

Current projects

The 2018 RTP currently lists two light rail extension projects that it expects will be funded by 2027; they are the Red Line improvements and Southwest Corridor projects.[63]:17

Project Status Description New
Length Planned
(mi) (km)
Red Line improvements[64] Preliminary design Extends Red Line service from Beaverton Transit Center to Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport station in Hillsboro using the existing Westside MAX alignment; it would serve 10 existing stations. On the east side, TriMet would add a second track to all single-track segments and reconfigure the Red Line approach to Gateway Transit Center Station to accommodate a new platform.[65] -- -- -- 2023 $200 million
Southwest Corridor[66] Preliminary design Extends MAX southwest from PSU to Bridgeport Village in Tualatin via Southwest Portland and Tigard. Much of the extension would run along the center of Southwest Barbur Boulevard, a part of Oregon Route 99W (OR 99W).[67] 13 12 19 2027 $2.6-2.8 billion[68]
Downtown Tunnel[69] Feasibility study Constructs a tunnel beneath downtown Portland that extends from Goose Hollow to the Lloyd Center.[69]:7[70][71] -- -- -- -- $3-4.5 billion[69]:7

Southwest Corridor extension

Southwest Corridor
proposed route
Bridgeport Village
SW Upper Boones Ferry Rd
SW Bonita Rd
SW Hall Blvd
WES Commuter Rail
SW Elmhurst St
SW 68th Pkwy
SW 53rd Ave
Barbur Transit Center
SW 30th Ave
SW 19th Ave
SW Custer Dr
SW Hamilton St
SW Gibbs St
PSU South/SW 6th & College
PSU South/SW 5th & Jackson

A planned expansion of MAX, referred to as the Southwest Corridor light rail project, would add 13 stations over a new 12-mile (19 km) extension, and connect downtown Portland to Southwest Portland and the cities of Tigard and Tualatin. The line would start from the southern end of the Portland Transit Mall at the PSU South stations and head south over I-405. It would run between Marquam Hill to the west and I-5 to the east, and proceed southwest beyond Capitol Highway to connect with Barbur Transit Center. Two bridges would take the line over I-5 into the Tigard Triangle. It would traverse a fourth bridge over OR 217 and proceed towards Tigard Transit Center, which would connect it with WES Commuter Rail. Adjacent to the SW Hall Blvd station would be a newly constructed rail yard built to house rolling stock and maintenance operations. The line would continue down beside the old Oregon Electric Railway right-of-way (current owned by Portland & Western Railroad) before terminating at Bridgeport Village.[72]:4[73]

Much of the extension would run along the center of Southwest Barbur Boulevard, a part of OR 99W. It is being designed to connect riders to the upper campus of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) via pedestrian link and Portland Community College (PCC) Sylvania via shuttle bus. End-to-end travel time would take approximately 30 minutes.[66] At an estimated cost of $2.6 billion to $2.9 billion,[74] the project will be included in a regional transportation funding measure that will be voted on in 2020.[75] If approved, the extension is expected to open in 2027 and serve approximately 43,000 riders by 2035.[66]

Project history

A segment of OR 99W, between Portland and Sherwood, was identified as one of the region's next high capacity transit corridors in Metro's 2035 Regional Transportation Plan adopted on June 10, 2010.[76]:11-14 The FTA granted Metro $2 million in January 2011 to begin studies for this area, which was formally called the Southwest Corridor. The funds focused on the assessment of various alternatives, including light rail, commuter rail, streetcar, and bus rapid transit.[77] The Southwest Corridor Plan officially launched on September 28, 2011, integrating the individual land use plans begun by each of the involved communities and initiating the development of a unified transportation network.[78]:1

In June 2013, Metro released the corridor's high-capacity transit analysis, in which it selected light rail and bus rapid transit as the main alternatives.[79]:1 Citing a lack of present and future demand, the analysis eliminated further planning using the alternatives to Sherwood. A streetcar line and a high-occupancy vehicle lane on I-5, among other previously considered options, were also abandoned. In response to local opposition to the removal of automobile lanes from OR 99W in Tigard, the steering committee recommended rerouting the proposed alignment through the Tigard Triangle.[80]:3 A refinement recommendation was announced in June 2014 selecting a preliminary route from the southern end of the Portland Transit Mall in downtown Portland to just east of Tualatin station in downtown Tualatin;[81]:6-7 this was later shortened to terminate at Bridgeport Village.[73] Proposals to serve OHSU on Marquam Hill, Hillsdale, and PCC Sylvania with tunnels were dropped from the plan because they would be costly, have severe construction impacts, and attract few new transit riders.[82][83] Connecting OHSU to a surface transit line through elevators or escalators is being studied.[84]

In May 2016, light rail was chosen as the preferred mode alternative over bus rapid transit.[85] Tigard voters, after passing a measure requiring voters to approve the construction of any high-capacity transit built within city limits,[86] approved the light rail extension the following September.[87]

In light of a budget gap of $462million, planners proposed reducing lanes on Barbur Boulevard and shortening the line's route to terminate in downtown Tigard. Both proposals were rejected in November 2019. Private negotiations, as well as Metro's approval to increase the project's requested budget by $125million in the 2020 ballot measure, has reduced the budget gap to around $100million.[88]

Other proposals

TriMet has indicated that additional extensions and improvements have been studied or discussed with Metro and cities in the region.[63]:17[89] These proposals include the following, with light rail being considered along with other alternatives:

  • Extension to Forest Grove
  • Extension to Oregon City via McLoughlin Boulevard (OR 99E)
  • Extension to Bridgeport Village via I-205
  • Extension to Hillsboro via Sunset Highway
  • Extension to Vancouver, Washington



Schematic map of MAX Light Rail along with WES Commuter Rail and the Portland Streetcar

For MAX, a "line" refers to the physical railroad track and stations a train serves between its designated termini, i.e. a train "route" or "service". The MAX system consists of five of these "lines", each assigned a color.[90] The use of colors to distinguish the separately-operated routes was first adopted in 2000 and brought into use in 2001, with the opening of the Red Line.[26][91]

All five lines traverse downtown Portland. The Blue and Red lines run north-south on First Avenue and west-east via Morrison and Yamhill streets. The Green, Orange, and Yellow lines run north-south via the Portland Transit Mall on 5th and 6th avenues. The Yellow Line, which began service in 2004, originally followed the same route into downtown Portland as the Blue and Red lines along First Avenue and Morrison and Yamhill streets; it was shifted to a new alignment along the transit mall in 2009, introducing light rail service to this corridor.[92][58] In 2015, the Orange Line became partially interlined with the Yellow Line in downtown Portland.[93] All lines except the Orange Line cross the Steel Bridge and serve the Rose Quarter. Conversely, the Orange Line is the only MAX service that travels across Tilikum Crossing. Moreover, the Green Line is the only line that shares parts of its route with all of the other lines.[90]


A geographic map showing the evolution of MAX

The MAX rail network is 59.7 miles (96.1 km) long, although TriMet typically rounds this figure up to 60 miles (97 km).[2] It was built in a series of six separate projects that have expanded upon the original Banfield--now Eastside--alignment. A portion of the Eastside MAX, between 11th Avenue and Gateway Transit Center, are now served by the Blue, Green, and Red lines. Meanwhile, a section of the Westside MAX, between Beaverton Transit Center and 11th Avenue, are served by the Blue and Red lines. The segment built as part of the Portland Transit Mall light rail project is shared between the Green, Orange, and Yellow lines. Four segments, all located outside of the city center, are exclusively operated by one service; this often makes the service and segment synonymous (e.g. Red Line and Airport MAX).[43]

Project Opened Operating line(s) End points New
Length Construction
(mi) (km)
Banfield (Eastside)[99] September 5, 1986    27(4 infills) 15.1 24.3[100][101][102] 1982-1986
Westside[103] September 12, 1998   20 17.7 28.5[104] 1993-1998
Airport[43] September 10, 2001 4 5.5 8.9[4]:66 1999-2001
Interstate[105] May 1, 2004 10 5.8 9.3[105][4]:66 2001-2004
Portland Transit Mall[106] August 30, 2009    14 1.8 2.9[107][92] 2007-2009
I-205[106] September 12, 2009 8 6.5 10.5[89][107]
Portland-Milwaukie[108] September 12, 2015 10 7.3 11.7[108][4]:66 2011-2015
Total 97 59.7 96.1  


In parts of the MAX system, particularly in downtown Portland and Hillsboro, MAX trains run on surface streets. Except on the Portland Transit Mall, Southwest Harbor Viaduct, and Tilikum Crossing, trains run in reserved lanes closed to other motorized vehicles. On these segments, trains operate on the same lanes as TriMet buses, although MAX trains have traffic priority. Elsewhere, MAX runs within its own exclusive right-of-way, in street medians, alongside freeways, and on former freight railroad lines.[109]

Where the tracks run in a street median, 30 percent of the entire system, such as the majority of the Yellow Line and the section of the Blue Line along Burnside Street between Gateway Transit Center and Ruby Junction, intersections are generally controlled by traffic signals which give trains preemption. Where the tracks occupy a completely separate right-of-way, the tracks are protected by automated grade crossing gates. A three-mile (4.8 km) section consists of two tunnels below Washington Park.[109]


A shelter at Gresham City Hall station, renovated in 2017

Ninety-seven stations are served by MAX.[110] Of these, 51 stations are served by the Blue Line, 30 by the Green Line, 29 by the Red Line, 17 by the Orange Line, and 17 by the Yellow Line. Moreover, 32 stations are served by at least two lines and eight stations are served by three lines. The system's central stations, where all MAX services interconnect, encompass Pioneer Courthouse and Pioneer Courthouse Square; these are the Pioneer Courthouse and Pioneer Place stations served by the Green, Orange, and Yellow lines, and the Pioneer Square stations served by the Blue and Red lines.[90]

MAX stations vary in size, but are generally simple and austere. Platforms are about 200 feet (61 m) long as a result of Portland's short blocks in downtown,[110] restricting trains to two-car consists.[111][112] As is typical of light rail systems, there are no faregates; paid areas are delineated but remain accessible to anyone. In 2015, turnstiles were proposed at some stations along the Orange Line, but never materialized.[113] Stations are typically equipped with trash cans, shelters, and ticket vending machines.[110][114] Most stations have arrival information displays that show train arrival countdowns and updates regarding service disruptions. Initially installed on I-205 MAX and Portland Transit Mall stations, a $180,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in 2013 enabled TriMet to add these displays to additional stations.[115] Concessionaires sometimes open coffee shops at certain stations.[116][117]

Washington Park station, the deepest transit station in North America at 260 feet (79 m)

A majority of MAX stations are street level, correlating to the system's predominant alignment.[118] Exceptions include stations that are below street level: Sunset Transit Center, Southeast Bybee Boulevard, and stations along the Banfield Freeway.[110][119] One station, Lents Town Center/Southeast Foster Road, is elevated.[120]Washington Park is the system's only underground station; it currently holds the distinction as North America's deepest transit station at 260 feet (79 m) below the ground.[121]

Eleven stations operate as TriMet transit centers, providing connections to several local and intercity bus lines.[122] Currently, Beaverton Transit Center is the only MAX-served transit center with a transfer to WES Commuter Rail, which travels south to the cities of Tigard, Tualatin, and Wilsonville.[123] On the Portland Transit Mall, MAX shares its alignment with numerous bus lines, which have stops in blocks not occupied by light rail platforms.[124] In downtown Portland and the Central Eastside, riders can transfer to the Portland Streetcar at stations near points where MAX and streetcar lines intersect.[125] Riders may also connect to Amtrak via a pair of stations situated near Portland Union Station.[124] With the Red Line as an airport rail link, TriMet operates a MAX station at Portland International Airport.[126]

On July 24, 2019, TriMet announced the permanent closure of the Mall stations, as well as a one-year pilot closure of Kings Hill/Southwest Salmon Street station. These closures, a first for the MAX system in an effort to speed up travel times, will take into effect on March 1, 2020.[127]

Accessibility and safety

A high-floor Bombardier light rail car and a wayside lift seen at Oak Street station in 1987
An extended bridgeplate in a low-floor car and tactile paving on the platform

MAX is fully accessible, having achieved this designation in April 1999.[4]:53 Platforms and ticket vending machines provide information in audio, raised letter, and braille. The edge of platforms have tactile paving, and non-street level platforms may be accessed with elevators.[119] Most light rail cars, with the exception of Type 1, are low-floor and have ramps that extend onto station platforms to board mobility devices. Inside cars, there are spaces and priority seating areas reserved for seniors and people with disabilities.[128]

Stations on the original MAX line were initially built with wayside lifts to accommodate riders with disabilities on the high-floor, first generation vehicles. The lifts were installed on platforms, rather than on trains, to prevent malfunctions from potentially delaying services.[129] Increased use of the lifts ultimately became the cause of delays,[130] and many users felt stigmatized by the lifts' "box" design and time-consuming operation.[4]:54 With the passing into law of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, TriMet submitted a paratransit plan to the FTA in January 1992.[4]:53 Just before the start of the Westside MAX project, MAX became the first light rail system in North America to procure low-floor vehicles after a TriMet study of European systems.[130] The low-floor cars, which were jointly developed by TriMet and Siemens,[131] first entered service in August 1997.[4]:54

In 2011, TriMet began upgrading sections of the Blue Line to improve pedestrian safety and compliance with updated ADA standards.[132] In 2013, pipe barriers were installed at Gateway Transit Center platform crossings to force pedestrians to slow down and face oncoming trains before crossing the tracks. In 2014, TriMet realigned sidewalks and crosswalks at four at-grade crossings in Gresham. Other improvements made throughout the line include pedestrian warning signal installations and tactile paving upgrades.[133]


A park and ride with a bike and ride component near Southeast Park Avenue station

Many MAX stations, particularly the ones outside of the city center, have free park and ride facilities. Most facilities are parking lots, while some are parking garages. At certain locations, TriMet negotiates with nearby establishments for additional spaces.[134] Vehicles are allowed to park overnight as long as they do not exceed 24 hours.[135]

TriMet provides a total of four bicycle parking options at its MAX stations, although not all options are available at every station.[136]Bike and ride facilities are secure, enclosed spaces accessible by keycard and monitored 24 hours per day by security cameras; they are currently available at only seven stations,[137] with more planned at other locations.[138] Similar to bike and ride, electronic bicycle lockers, or eLockers, are secure lockers that may be accessed by keycard and are made available on a first-come, first-served basis. TriMet contracts all keycard access to BikeLink.[139] Another type of locker, reserved lockers have slots that are rented out to users.[140]Bicycle racks are the most common form of bicycle parking and are available at most stations.[141]

Rolling stock

A MAX train composed of one low-floor car and one high-floor car on the Portland Transit Mall in 2015

TriMet currently operates five models of light rail vehicles, of which two were successive upgrades of the same model. They are designated by the agency as "Type 1" through "Type 5" and total 145 cars. The cars vary in length, from 89 feet (27.1 m) to 95 feet (29.0 m), though all of them are used interchangeably by every service on the network.[142] Type 1 total 26 vehicles and were manufactured by a joint venture between La Brugeoise et Nivelles and Bombardier beginning in 1983 for the Banfield light rail project.[143] Similar in design to Bombardier vehicles that had been used in Brussels and Rio de Janeiro,[143] the first of the high-floor vehicles arrived in Portland in 1984.[144]Wayside lifts were installed on stations of the original MAX line in order to accommodate riders using mobility devices.[129]

In compliance with the ADA, TriMet officials conducted an accessibility study in 1992 and determined that low-floor cars were the most cost-effective way to provide universal access to the system.[142] MAX subsequently became the first light rail system in North America to acquire low-floor train sets with the procurement of 39 model SD660 cars from Siemens in 1993.[145][146][147] Referred to as Type 2, they were equipped with wheelchair ramps;[148] they entered service during the partial opening of the Westside MAX in 1997.[149] In 1999,[45] Tri-Met ordered 17 additional Type 2 cars for the Airport MAX project.[142] The system's 27 Type 3 vehicles, which were ordered as part of the Interstate MAX project and first brought into use in 2003, are the same model as the Type 2 vehicles, with the primary differences being technical upgrades and a new livery.[142][150]

Twenty-two Siemens S70 low-floor cars, designated Type 4, were purchased in conjunction with the combined I-205 MAX and Portland Transit Mall project; they were first used in 2009. Type 4 cars feature a more streamlined design, have more seating, and are lighter in weight and therefore more energy-efficient. The Type 4 cars were also the first to use LED-type destination signs.[151] The second series of S70 cars, TriMet's Type 5 vehicles, were procured for the Portland-Milwaukie light rail project. TriMet placed the order for the Type 5 cars with Siemens in 2012 and delivery commenced in 2014.[152] These vehicles include some improvements over the Type 4 cars, including a less-cramped interior seating layout and improvements to the air-conditioning system and wheelchair ramps.[153][154]

On July 29, 2019, Siemens received an order for 26 S700 light rail vehicles from TriMet. This order is intended to replace the system's Type 1 vehicles. The first car is expected to be delivered in 2021.[131]

Because of Portland's relatively small 200-foot (61 m) downtown blocks,[155] trains operate with only one or two consists; this prevents a stopped train from blocking intersections. Type 2 and 3 vehicles are capable of running singularly, or coupled to another Type 1, 2, or 3 vehicle. Trainsets composed of one low-floor and one high-floor car allowed for the removal of wayside lifts from all MAX stations. Meanwhile, Type 4 and 5 cars can only be coupled to one another.[142]

Rolling stock interiors
Type 1
Type 2
Type 5
Image Designation Car numbers Manufacturer Model First used No. of seats/overall capacity Quantity
MAX train on Yamhill St with Pioneer Place (1991) - Portland, Oregon Type 1 101-126 Bombardier -- 1986 76/166 26
MAX train of two Type 2 cars Type 2 201-252 Siemens SD660 1997 64/166 52
MAX train crossing Steel Bridge in 2009 - street view of SD660 LRVs Type 3 301-327 2003 64/166 27
MAX Light Rail Car (Multnomah County, Oregon scenic images) (mulDA0008a) Type 4 401-422 S70 2009 68/172[156] 22
Type 5 LRVs laying over on the Blue Line in Hillsboro, May 2015 Type 5 521-538 2015 72/186[154] 18
-- Type 6 (601-626) S700 2021-22 (expected) -- 26

Maintenance facilities

The main building at the Ruby Junction maintenance facility

TriMet has two vehicle-maintenance complexes for the MAX system: the Ruby Junction facility in Gresham and the Elmonica facility, the smaller of the two, in Beaverton.[157][158] The now-23-acre (9.3 ha)[158] Ruby Junction facility is located near Ruby Junction/East 197th Avenue station, while the Elmonica facility is adjacent to Elmonica/Southwest 170th Avenue station; both are on the Blue Line.

Ruby Junction began with one building, built as part of the original MAX project in the early 1980s, and has expanded subsequently--to three multistory buildings totalling 143,000 square feet (13,300 m2) on 17 acres (6.9 ha) by 2010,[157] and to four buildings totalling 149,000 square feet (13,800 m2) on 23 acres (9.3 ha) by 2016.[158] It has 13 maintenance bays, and its yard tracks have the capacity to store 87 light rail cars.[158] In 2016, around 200 employees were working at Ruby Junction, and almost 200 MAX operators were operating trains based there.[158]

The Elmonica facility was built as part of the Westside MAX Project in the mid-1990s and was completed in 1996.[159] Its building has 78,000 square feet (7,200 m2) of space.[159]

In addition to vehicle maintenance, crews who maintain the MAX system's tracks and signals are also based at Ruby Junction.[158] In 2015, some of TriMet's MAX maintenance-of-way personnel moved into the former Portland Vintage Trolley carbarn next to Rose Quarter Transit Center, after Vintage Trolley service was discontinued, under a plan first described in 2013.[160]


Trains run every 15 minutes from early in the morning until late at night, even on weekends. The Blue Line runs every 10 minutes during rush hour. Headways between trains are shorter in the central section of the system, where lines overlap. Actual schedules vary by location and time of day. At many stations, a live readerboard shows the destination and time-to-arrival of the next several trains, using data gathered by a vehicle tracking system.


Annual ridership
Year Ridership
2000 21,165,600  --
2005 31,920,000 +50.8%
2010 38,390,400 +20.3%
2011 41,200,160 +7.3%
2012 42,193,180 +2.4%
2013 39,036,500 -7.5%
2014 38,228,800 -2.1%
2015 37,746,000 -1.3%
2016 40,019,560 +6.0%
2017 39,699,760 -0.8%
2018 38,906,694 -2.0%
2019 38,817,600 -0.2%
Source: TriMet[1]


A TriMet ticket vending machine with Hop Fastpass branding
A Hop Fastpass card and ticket reader at a MAX station

As is standard practice on North American light rail systems,[161] MAX uses a proof-of-payment fare collection system and its stations do not have ticket barriers.[113] Ticket vending machines at stations accept cash, as well as credit and debit cards. Some machines accept cards only.[162] TriMet employs an automated fare collection system through a stored-value, contactless smart card called Hop Fastpass.[163] A physical Hop card can be purchased from participating retail stores.[164] Alternatively, chip-embedded, single-use tickets may be purchased from ticket vending machines.[165] A virtual card is available to Android and Apple users.[166][167]Smartphones with a debit or credit card loaded into Google Pay, Samsung Pay, or Apple Pay can be used as well.[168]Portland Streetcar ticket vending machines also issue 2​-hour tickets and 1-day passes that are valid on MAX.[169]

Prior to each boarding, riders must tap their fare medium onto a card reader.[164] Fares are flat rate and are capped based on usage.[170] Riders may transfer to other TriMet services, C-Tran, and the Portland Streetcar using Hop Fastpass.[171]

Rider[171] 2​-hour ticket Day Pass Month Pass
Adult $2.50 $5 $100
Youth, Honored Citizen $1.25 $2.50 $28

Discontinued services

Fareless Square

From the MAX system's opening until 2012, riding was free in Fareless Square (known as the Free Rail Zone from 2010 to 2012), which included all of downtown and, starting in 2001, part of the Lloyd District. The 37-year-old fare-free zone was discontinued on September 1, 2012, as part of systemwide cost-cutting measures. As part of the same budget cuts, TriMet discontinued its zonal fares, moving to a flat fare system. Zones had been in place since 1986, with higher fares for longer rides, and three fare zones (five until 1988).[172]

MAX Mall Shuttle

The MAX Mall Shuttle was a service that operated from 2009 until 2011, weekday afternoons only. It was introduced on September 14, 2009,[173] as a supplement to the light rail service provided on the mall by the Yellow and Green lines[174] and operated only between Union Station and PSU, about every 30 minutes on weekdays from noon until 5:30 p.m.[174] TriMet discontinued this supplementary shuttle service effective June 5, 2011.[175][176] Along with bus service, the mall continues to be served by two MAX lines in each direction – Green and Yellow northbound and Green and Orange southbound – which provide a combined average headway of 7.5 minutes in each direction at most times.

Portland Vintage Trolley

In addition to regular MAX service, the Portland Vintage Trolley operated on the MAX system from 1991 until 2014, on most weekends, serving the same stops. This service, which operated for the last time in July 2014,[177][178] used 1991-built replicas of 1904 Portland streetcars. Until 2009, the Vintage Trolley service followed a section of the original MAX line, between the Galleria/Library stations and Lloyd Center, but in September 2009 the service moved to the newly opened MAX alignment along the transit mall, running from Union Station to Portland State University,[92][179] and remained on that route in subsequent seasons. In 2011, the service was reduced to only seven or eight Sundays per year,[180] and in July 2014 it was discontinued entirely, with the sale of the two remaining faux-vintage cars to a group planning a streetcar line in St. Louis.[177][178]


2017 stabbing incident

Hollywood Transit Center, where the train stopped and the suspect fled

On May 26, 2017 at approximately 4:30 pm, a man fatally stabbed two people and injured a third, after he was confronted for shouting anti-Muslim slurs at two teenage girls inside a MAX train.[181] Ricky John Best of Happy Valley, a technician for the City of Portland's Bureau of Development Services and U.S. Army verteran, and Talesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche of Portland, a recent university graduate, died from wounds inflicted on their necks. The third victim, Micah David-Cole Fletcher, survived.[182] The attacker, who described himself as a white nationalist,[183] was arrested and charged with murder, attempted murder, and various other crimes.[184]

See also


  1. ^ Prior to the introduction of a second MAX service (Red Line), the service between Hillsboro and Gresham, which ran the entire length of the Eastside and Westside MAX segments, had not been designated the Blue Line. It had simply been referred to as MAX. The color designations were adopted in September 2000 and implemented on September 10, 2001.[26][91]
  2. ^ The Red Line extension on September 1, 2003, which spanned from the Library and Galleria stations in downtown Portland to Beaverton Transit Center, occurred on already existing tracks that were being served by the Blue Line.[50]
  3. ^ On August 30, 2009, the Yellow Line was rerouted from its downtown alignment on First Avenue and Morrison and Yamhill streets, which had been shared with the Blue and Red lines, to the newly-added tracks on the Portland Transit Mall.[58]


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