Pacific Northwest Transit Adventures

Sunrise over the Tilikum Crossing – The New MAX Orange Line to Milwaukie

This is Part 2 of my 2018 Pacific Northwest Up-to-Date Trip

With the time change I wake up at the Society Hotel early, a little before 6:00am. I have my room until 11:00am (I’m taking the Noon Amtrak Cascades Train northbound) and decide to just get dressed, eat a granola bar and go since according to my calculations I should finish the Orange Line by 10:00.

I walk west to the Transit Mall Orange Line Station at SW 5th & Crouch and immediately notice the Orange Line bullets, on the signs.

I just make the 6:17 Orange Line, and sit in my favorite place on the MAX Siemens Type 4 and 5 LRVs. These are S70s, used by many transit agencies, but I really like the way that MAX turned a cab onto each car into ‘domed’ seating in the middle of the two, ‘always’ married pairs of articulated trainsets. I get a really decent photo of a sign now with an Orange Bullet at SW Oak & 5th(1 Photo)

We continue down the transit mall and I enjoy ‘racing a streetcar in short section’ where they both run along 6th Street.


I hit new MAX trackage after PSU Urban Center (I did walk around the PSU South Station and look at the layover area when it was under construction) and then head onto the Light Rail only SW Harbor Viaduct, descending onto the streetcar line below that is the ‘local’ running in the middle of the street, making many more stops. I get my first glimpse of the sunrise over the Light Rail, Streetcar, Pedestrian, and Bus only  Tilikum Crossing.


I get off at South Waterfront/SW Moody-(28 Photos), with it’s unique four track design although streetcars don’t share the platforms.


I then start walking over the Tilikum Crossing(40 Photos) where I thoroughly enjoy the sunrise. There’s something really neat about experiencing the first modern large crossing in North America built just for people and transit vehicles at sunrise.


I hustle more than I might thinking I might be able to make it across in just over 15 minutes and not have a Milwaukie-bound train pass me, but this is false. The next inbound train passes me when I’m still some distance from OSMI/SE Water(60 Photos) and have 14 minutes to get plenty of photos, and discover the Oregon Rail Heritage Center across from the station, which I would be curious to visit on a future trip.


I realize there’s one of the rush hour ‘extras’ coming southbound. These are trains that run outside of the 15 minute clock-face Orange-Yellow Line frequency which means I take the next 2 trains just 1 stop each to spend 7 minutes at both the Clinton St/SE 12th Ave(27 Photos) and SE 17th Ave & Rhine St(24 Photos) Stations.


I look at the schedule and see that there’s a similar of the ‘extra’ train (the train I just got on returning north) heading northbound so I take my next train all the way to SE Tacoma/Johnson Creek(13 Photos)


From there I double-back to SE Bybee Blvd(14 Photos). There I realize that the Union Pacific line used by Amtrak from Eugene is the rail line the Milwaukie Line follows when a northbound Amtrak Cascades train passes.


I backtrack one more stop to SE 17th Ave & Holgate Blvd(24 Photos)


The next southbound train is another one of the rush hour extras using just one LRV, and although I technically have one intermediate stop left, I ride it all the way to the last stop SE Park Avenue(32 Photos). There I explore a bit, including of the plaza that leads to the Trolley Trail next to the platform and soon the regular every 15 minute train arrives for it’s 8 minute layover, Passengers are informed by the next MAX monitors listing the single car train as heading to City Center/PSU, and the normal frequency train as to City Center/Expo Center. The drivers also tell some passengers (particularly on the single LRV) to cross the platform for the next train out. There is a bit confusion with people transferring from the single car train to the two car train. This could all be fixed if the station had a next train here sign, something that I find legacy transit systems tend to do much better than more modern ones.


My next stop is Milwaukie/Main St(16 Photos), where I’m getting hungry and it’s time for breakfast.


Grandma’s Corner Restaurant for a large portion of eggs (including the early bird special discount since it’s not 9:00am yet) suits me well. I head back to the Light Rail Station about a half-hour later, and notice that a number of Max buses are still meeting up at what the bus map calls Milwaukie City Center, on Jackson Street and 21st Avenue and not at the Train Station since it wasn’t built with bus loops to make it a Transit Center (none of the stops on the Milwaukie Line are). I then get back on MAX to head inbound.


As I head back to Downtown, I realize I have time and the schedule allows me to use the doubling-back trick (so the stopover takes 15 minutes with trains in opposite directions not passing between the stations) to re-visit SE Bybee Blvd(29 Photos) where I double-back to SE Tacoma/Johnson Creek(17 Photos). I feel that my additional photos from these extra stopovers gives a much more complete photo essays of these unique stations.


I head towards downtown and over the Tilikum Crossing on a train, and get off at my one remaining Orange Line Stop, Lincoln St/SW 3rd Ave(17 Photos)


From there I start walking along the railroad line and to the now finished (they were under construction because of the adjacent building when I was last in Portland back in 2012) PSU South Stations. I first pas a Green line sitting in the turnaround loop, stopping at the Southbound PSU South/SW 5th & Jackson(14 Photos)


I then walk around to the other side of the PSU Building to Northbound PSU South/SW 6th & College-(9 Photos). Where I board an originating Green Line train and sit in my favorite seat in the middle of the car where the cab was never added.


I get off at NW 6th & Davis(2 Photos), as it starts raining again getting back to the Society Hotel before 10:00am, feeling happy and a little tired.

I shower and take a little rest, and although check-out time is posted at 11:00am, my first text (without an immediate response) followed by a phone call at 10:45 to request late check out for 11:15 is granted with “Let’s make it 11:30.” I leave the hotel at 11:15 to head to Union Station.

A final note, I realize I’ve neglected the Portland Streetcar. I rode the entire North-South Line and I think photographed as it existed on my visit in 2011 but am still having a hard time deciding how to organize and publish those photos, I think I’m just going to make a single webpage for the streetcar selection. If I had more time I would have liked to have ridden the new streetcar loop but the goal of this trip was getting non-streetcar transit in Portland and Seattle up to date using one single vacation day.