tim adams

YOU WILL RIDE TRANSIT in Portland, newcomer. Even if you have a car, you’ll soon grow tired of driving, of parking, of all of it. You’ll eventually realize there’s a massive transit system that is only too happy to drive for you, allowing you to zone out with a pair of earbuds while looking at clouds. Here are the routes you need to know.

The #14

You are getting on the #14. They are getting on the #14. Everyone is getting on the #14. It is one of the most popular bus lines in this city. The #14 goes up and down SE Hawthorne and SE Foster, two of the main thoroughfares in Southeast. So if you live in Portland’s biggest quadrant, you’ll probably take this bus. Fortunately, it comes fairly often.

The #12

Sandy Boulevard is the spine of Northeast Portland, and the #12 is to that quadrant what the #14 is to Southeast. It’s okay.

The #72 and the #75

Want to take the bus downtown? No problem. You’re covered. Want to take it to a neighborhood just slightly north or south of where you live on the Eastside? That’s going to be more difficult.

There is no shortage of east-west transit lines in Portland, but the #72 (which goes down 82nd) and the #75 (which goes up and down César E. Chávez, AKA 39th) offer something special: a smooth, straight path from south to north and back. These buses, more so than other lines, connect Portland to itself. They link neighborhood to neighborhood. Cherish that rarity.

The MAX Red Line

The best way to arrive and depart from an airport is to be dropped off or picked up by friends or family. Airports are places of strong, important emotions. If you go to airports, you can see parents, children, lovers, and old people all tearfully reuniting or leaving. You can see the pain of separation and the joy of togetherness.

However you, newcomer, don’t have any friends here. At all. At least not yet. So you’re sort of fucked when you have to catch a flight back to Bakersfield or Pensacola or whatever other version of Not Portland you’re from. So take the Red Line. It is dramatically cheaper than getting a cab, and (assuming someone picks you up when you land in Not Portland) you’ll have the mild novelty of riding in a plane, train, and automobile all in the same day.

The MAX Yellow and Orange Lines

The Yellow and Orange Lines are not two different lines. They are a single entity that expresses a slightly different mood depending on where it is in town. Going to North Portland, it’s the Yellow Line. Going to Milwaukie, it’s the Orange Line. There is no real difference between the two—it’s simply one warm color traded for another. If you are someone who values consistency and easy systemization, this will madden you. You will look at this arbitrary distinction and you will seethe with anger. “It’s the same line!” you will think, powerlessly.