Friday, February 8, 2013

Adventures on Tri-Met

I've been to Portland, OR, numerous times.  My son, daughter-in-law and three adorable grandchildren live here and I try to see them for six or seven days four times a year.  And I've been a big fan of the transit system. I always take public transit from the airport when I arrive and frequently take it back to the airport when I'm ready to depart. I use it to visit yarn stores and to get downtown for Sunday UU services and children's theater. It's cheap (Honored, Portland's euphemism for senior, Citizens travel for $1.00) and the service is frequent. I have an app for my iPhone that plans out my trips and tells me how soon the bus will arrive at my stop. What more could one ask for?

This trip Tri-Met has not quite lived up to my effusive praise. Coming in from the airport I must change from the light rail to the #71 bus to end up within two blocks of my destination. It's never been an issue in the past. This time I stood at the transfer point with more than 20 other people for over 30 minutes. While the sun was out when my plane landed, by the time I reached the NE 60th Ave. overpass it was drizzling. Finally a bus pulled up. It was not full but it had a sign in front saying, "Drop Off Only."  Some people did get off and the bus pulled away leaving all of us standing in the rain. I called Tri-Met from my cell phone only to be told that the bus was running late.  This, of course, was not news. We'd all been standing there for more than half an hour by this time. Apparently when Tri-Met busses run late the dispatcher orders the driver to leave prospective passengers standing at the stop so the bus can make up for lost time. In other words, the bus will be on time but the passengers won't. I don't understand this but it appears to be standard practice. Ultimately another bus came along although by then we were all pretty wet.

Thursday after walking the twins to school, I took transit to Twisted, a yarn shop in NE Portland. My PDX Bus app got me there with no difficulty. As I was meeting a friend she dropped me off relatively close to home and I enjoyed the rare sunny February weather and walked home. Today I headed back to the same yarn shop. After dropping the twins off, I headed to the bus stop. As I approached the intersection I could see the bus at the stop on the other side of the street. The light was against me but I scurried across to catch it before it pulled away. Traffic kindly stopped for me. The bus driver chastised me for rushing across telling me it wasn't a safe thing to do. I told him it was  because I was from the east coast where we have s faster pace. He was not convinced. I got to the yarn store in good time and enjoyed the morning having coffee and working on my current project. It's a very pleasant space as you can see.

At 11:30 I realized I should start back if I was to be home before pick-up time at school. I checked the PDX Bus app and it didn't seem to want me to go home the way I came. I was puzzled by this and reluctant to follow the app's directions because it wanted me to take the #77 along NE Broadway and then change to the dreaded #71 which had given me so much trouble on Wednesday. No matter how I tried I could not get the app to allow me to retrace the morning route. Ultimately I acquiesced and took the #77. I confirmed with the driver that I could transfer to the #71 at NE 58th and Halsey. I got off the bus and the app reported that the #71 was due in one minute. And it did turn up quite promptly. As I boarded I asked the driver if I was headed in the right direction for SE52nd and Division and he said no, it was in the other direction. My heart sank. That's not what the app showed but I was not certain myself. Then he corrected himself and said it was the right bus. As soon as we arrived at the NE 60th Ave overpass I was on familiar territory. I made it home just in time to watch the napping baby while my daughter-in-law went to fetch the twins. As I exited the bus (the driver announced the Division stop for my benefit) I told him he had me frightened for a minute there. He told me he had frightened himself when he realized he had the route reversed in his mind. So, all's well that ends well but I now now that the Portland bus service is not quite as wonderful as I have touted it to be.

No comments: