MAX Packs Them In For Free Rides During Inaugural WeekendAP , Associated Press
Sep. 7, 1986 1:26 PM ET
PORTLAND, ORE. PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Riders crammed streetcars this weekend to take free rides on the city's new light-rail system, undaunted by the one-hour waits and unpredictable arrival times on the inaugural runs.
MAX, or Metropolitan Area Express, began operating Friday, when an estimated 63,000 people rode the trains in its first 12 hours of service. The commuter system was designed to carry 40,000 passengers in a 20-hour operating day.
The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District, the public agency that operates the system, offered free rides on the downtown-to-Gresham route through Sunday.
''Sometimes they are running 30 minutes apart, sometimes five minutes,'' Tri-Met spokesman Doug Babb said. ''It's really erratic.''
The capacity of each car is 240 passengers, but at least 250 crowded into the cars at times.
''At that clip, we're going to have 100,000 by the end of the day,'' Babb said Saturday. ''All of this means we've exposed a lot of people to light rail.''
At one point during the day, about 1,500 people waited at two Gresham stations for a ride to downtown Portland, while an additional 1,000 queued up in downtown Portland for points east.
In downtown and at the end of the line in Gresham, riders were asked to leave the trains so others who had been waiting 45 minutes to an hour could board.
''I'm a little disappointed with the lines,'' Portland resident Don Porth said as he watched a train pull away. ''We've been here 30 minutes, and this is the first train we've seen move in the station.''
''We've been so swamped with people,'' said Shirley Panit, a Tri-Met rail supervisor. ''People want to ride the MAX.''