Hitch a ride to class on Portland’s legendary transit system

Portland State, as you know, is located in downtown Portland. That means it’s convenient to walk to anything you need, but it also means that it’s inconvenient for drivers. Downtown is jammed with traffic, street parking is very limited and parking in lots or structures is super expensive. So, how can you make your life easier? Ditch the car and take TriMet, Portland’s public transportation system.

TriMet consists of buses, MAX light rails and streetcars, which all conveniently connect routes to each other. The rarely seen WES commuter rail runs at specific hours and goes out to the suburbs, like Tigard.

Unless you are commuting from the other side of Portland, taking TriMet is just as quick as driving by the time you find parking. When you take TriMet, you are dropped off exactly where you need to be, you save gas and car payment money, and you shrink your carbon footprint!

Some people complain that they don’t like waiting around for the bus. Luckily, most transit lines downtown are considered frequent service, which means they run every 15 minutes. Plus, you can download the TransitTracker app that tells you in real time how many minutes you have until the next bus, MAX or streetcar arrives. The app also makes it easy to plan your transit route.

The other typical complaint is that weird people take the bus. Well, you’re in Portland now. Haven’t you heard our slogan? Embrace the weird. Besides, you will find that people are actually very friendly on transit. Most of the time you will be sitting next to other students, considering PSU is primarily a commuter school. Not into small talk with strangers? Just open a book or put headphones in and no one will bother you.

It may be a little confusing to figure out the routes, especially if you are new to Portland. However, with the help of TransitTracker and the very well-trained and informed transit drivers, you will figure it out in no time.

Some people worry about safety when taking the bus at night. First of all, make sure the bus driver can see you at your stop if it is dark. Wave your cell phone or flashlight when you see the bus coming, just to be sure. It’s never fun to miss the bus because the driver didn’t see you.

As far as safety goes, Portland has got you covered. From the hours of 8 p. m. to 5 a.m., the bus driver will stop anywhere you ask them on the route; it doesn’t have to be at designated bus stops. So don’t worry about walking from the stop to your home late at night.

And no, Portland’s buses aren’t smelly, contrary to the stereotypical city-bus belief. And yes, there is heating and air conditioning. And yes, you can bring your bike, wheelchair, kids, lunch, parakeet, shoulder-cat or whatever.

To use the bus or MAX for two and a half hours, it costs $2.50 for an adult, $1.00 for an honored citizen (senior citizen or handicapped person) and $1.25 for children ages 7-17. The streetcar is free to all PSU students and employees, you just need to be able to show ID. A TriMet day pass is $5 for an adult.

All tickets are interchangeable throughout the different public transit systems. Although you can buy your ticket on the Trimet app, you can also pay with cash. But if you’re paying with cash, it needs to be exact change. Drivers won’t make change for you if you need to break a big bill, and the automated machines will just eat your money.

If you’ve made the smart choice of taking transit every day to class, you will definitely want to get a PSU FlexPass. They are $215 per term and allow you to use all transit at any time, anywhere in Portland and the surrounding areas. That may seem like a lot of dough, but do the math: Driving or paying for transit tickets daily is much more expensive.

Forget about driving around in circles wasting gas looking for a parking spot and then being late to class, and just use TriMet! Portland has a great public transit system. Plus, on your way to class, you can finish up that last-minute assignment you procrastinated on.