I love mass transit, and Trimet gets me where I want to go in Portland, Oregon! The payment options have been changing, so here’s an update on the current situation.
Portland’s mass transit is straightforward to ride. You can pay with cash as you get onto buses, but you need to buy your fare before you get onto the light-rail trains (MAX). Fare info is here
on the Trimet website.
If you want to plan further ahead, we now have Hop Fastpass
. You can buy a Hop card at the kiosks at the light-rail stations, online, at a wide variety of stores, and at the Trimet offices in Pioneer Square. You can also set up a phone application to pay for your fare.
Using your Hop Card: tap your card or phone at the pad when you get onto the bus or onto the light-rail platform. You do not need to tap when you get off. There are some great perks for doing this:
- if you ride twice in a day, you have an all-day pass (this used to drive me crazy when I wasn’t sure how many rides I’d take in a day)
- if you spend $100 in a calendar month, you have a monthly pass
- you can register your card in case you lose it
- you can set your card to autoload so you always have a fare
There is a non-Hop card option for your phone as well. For this, you need to activate your fare before getting onto the bus or the train. Show the activated fare to the bus driver when you get onto the bus. For MAX, you only need to show your fare when requested by a fare inspector.
The lightrail system (MAX) first started to be built out in the 1980s, and none of the stations have turnstiles for fares. This means that we’re on the honor system to pay for our rides. Please pay for your ride! There’s all sorts of great Trimet and mass transit history info on in the Trimet history section of their website
Trimet has all sorts of things that make me happy, but recently I’ve been appreciating the music lyrics on the front of the buses on the bike racks — keep an eye out!
I’m a huge fan of riding Trimet trains and buses. Prior to the airport Max (aka the Red Line), I used to ride a Trimet bus to the airport. The line number escapes me, and the bus actually worked fairly well. However, buses are more challenging to navigate, particularly if you’re coming to a new city. They are also typically viewed as dirtier and scarier than trains. The airport bus, however, had the advantage of taking a fascinating trip through Eastside Portland while the airport Max pretty much moves you along freeways.
Nonetheless, I appreciate the airport Max line and was very excited when the train line opened in 2002(?). Nothing is more satisfying than taking a train that is moving faster than gridlocked freeway. And the convenience of the Max airport station nicely complements traveling with carry-on luggage. Walk off the plane and walk on the train.
It’s an All Zone ticket (NOTE: Trimet no longer uses zones), and there is some value in having a ticket ahead of time (NOTE: or use their phone app) so that you don’t have to fuss with the ever problematic ticket machines.