When MAX introduced the neighbors

The MAX train.

About a week ago, my best friend and I were on the MAX riding back to Portland State. We had been in Milwaukie, and were coming back to get dinner at my place and then head to a concert that night at the Crystal Ballroom. We were excited to see Brandi Carlile live.

Sitting across from us on the MAX was a mother and two daughters. The youngest was fast asleep in her mom’s arms, but the other was busy asking questions and acting, shy as most little kids do. Eventually, she got up the courage to ask both us if we were Portland State students, since we were studying and talking about classes. We answered, and a conversation was born. The mother, my best friend and I all began talking and soon discovered that she too was a student. But more than that, she even lived in the same building as I do.

It struck me that night that we are all strangers passing each other by, and the community of Portland State is indeed wide stretching and very diverse. I think we take for granted doe faced youths as college students, and forget that we students come in all shapes and sizes and ages. So next time you are sitting on the MAX, keep in mind that maybe you are looking at your neighbor two floors down, or a future classmate. We don’t always have to be strangers on a train.

Living in Downtown Has its Advantages

Coming from a small but rural town, I’m used to having stores, restaurants, and other places beyond walking distance. It’s very common to see young teenagers get their license and start driving to high school and elsewhere, I certainly did when I had the chance. Most cities have the same layout, where you need a car to get around. But Portland is small compared to other cities.

Powell’s bookstore, restaurants, Pioneer Place mall and are all within walking distance. Our public transportation makes it easy to travel one side of the city to the other. The street car makes it easy for me to get around. The street car, along with the MAX line and TriMet buses, are vital to many students and PSU commuters.

Without fail, the streets and public transportations are full with people every weekday who are ready to start a new day. It is nice to live near PSU so I don’t have the hassle of waiting for a bus or the Max and taking up some of my time commuting. It is expensive to livedowntown, but the experience and the independency are invaluable. I have been living in Portland for more than two years and I’m planning to stay here for a few more years.

What do you think: Are there more pros than cons living downtown?

And the cost keeps going up

With Trimet facing a loss of up to $17 million in the next budget year, they have come up with a revenue-generating proposal that includes several changes. Many people have complained about these potential alterations and have already started planning what they’ll do to get around without having to use the MAX. Portland State University student Avery VanKirk feels that the projected increase in fare will affect his day-to-day routine. “It’s hard enough having to pay $5 every day to commute to and from school. If they increase fares, I’ll probably go back to driving” he says.

The proposal consists of changes, such as a fare increase, a transition to one-way/round-trip tickets, and the elimination of all zones, including the Free Rail Zone. Ryan Smith, a PSU student, feels that the removal of the Free Rail Zone would hinder a lot of people who make good use of it. “I know a lot of people that drive to the Lloyd Center, park there, and then jump on the MAX in the Free Rail Zone. The recession drew people to work the system, but with these changes coming up, they will be forced to find other means of transportation” Smith says.

The shortcomings in funds come during a tough economic time when many people have made Trimet their primary transportation. A fare increase would generate revenue and help avoid further service cuts, but it would also create a financial burden for people who use the bus or MAX on a daily basis, especially lower-income riders. For now, the majority of revenue-generating measures are being focused on increased fares. However, if the cost is too high, riders might stop using Trimet and inadvertently create a bigger budget problem.

What do you think about the proposal? If fares go up, will you stop riding the MAX?