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car vs. transit

Marina, California
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for Tucson
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car vs. transit

Hi and thanks for reading.

I'm planning a Portland trip alone in early July. I'll be there for a couple of days, doing touristy things, but also just sort of hanging around neighborhoods. I do plan on renting a car one day and driving to the coast, possibly Astoria or Cannon Beach. The trip is mainly to check Portland out for my next move. Nothing serious yet, but I want to see if I like the town.

Since I'd rather not have a car the entire time, I've been trying to cross-reference hotel addresses with MAX station locations and have come up with a few (emphasize "few") options. Downtown hotels are very pricey, and I've thought about just staying near the airport and using the shuttle bus/MAX to get into town each day.

My question is, is this one of those cities, like San Diego, which has an extensive transit system, but you still need a car to get around in? Can I get by on just the light rail and a couple of buses?

Also, is there public transit to Vancouver? I've heard good things about its Downtown area, and would like to check it out.

Thanks in advance.

Portland, Oregon
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1. Re: car vs. transit

I live in Portland and usually take mass transit or walk. I have a car, but I use it very infrequently. That said, public transport does not cover all areas well unless you have the patience of a saint to wait for a bus. Especially if you want to get to Vancouver. If you need more info, let us know!

Oregon
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2. Re: car vs. transit

MAX light rail is a rather minor player in the Portland transit system. regardless of how much Portland brags about it. It goes to Gresham, Hillsboro, airport, But to really get around and see Portland you need to use the bus system.

The bus sytem focuses around downtown Portland. good for getting you there and back to much of metro area. The further you get from downtown the less flexible it is. if you have interest in living in suburbs you probably need car to check it out.

C-Trans goes to vancouver

hard for me to compare Portland transit to other US cities, have never used San Diego system. It is far behind NYC and Wash DC but that is to be expected.

Marina, California
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3. Re: car vs. transit

Thanks for the replies, guys.

I did notice that the system just sort of left off the south side of town almost entirely. That's led me to exclude hotels in that area.

If I did move to the area, I would move to a central neighborhood. That's where I always live. I'm not overly interested in what the suburbs have to offer, but I would like to get a sense of them. I may just use the day I have the car to go up to Vancouver.

I was looking at a hotel (HI Express) on Jantzen Beach. The MAX seems to stop just on the other side of the river. Is there some sort of pedestrian bridge over, or is that just a bad idea?

I may just use the money from not renting a car to stay Downtown. It seems like the best course of action. I was in Seattle late last year, didn't have a car, and was able to get around pretty well by bus, ferry or just walking. Is Portland more similar to Seattle then?

Oregon/Washington
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for Portland, Sunriver
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4. Re: car vs. transit

Portland is much more compact that Seattle, and easier to get around without a car, so you will be fine.

Have you considered using Priceline to get a downtown hotel at a reasonable rate? The downtown location would be much better, and of course would be a time saver.

Buenos Aires...
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5. Re: car vs. transit

When we visited here for the first time, to see if we might want to live here, we stayed for 10 days. We only rented a car to drive to the Gorge and Beach, otherwise, we were able to see everything in town with the help of TriMet & Streetcars and walking.

Once you go over to the East side, I think you might need more help with transportation, but in the NW/SW area of town, you really do not need a car to live here.

Look into the Mark Spencer Hotel and maybe the DeLux which was the Mallory-they renovated, not sure of prices but used to have good rates.

Oregon
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6. Re: car vs. transit

I did not mention the tellow MAX line that goes north because did not think it would be of any value to you. It ends at a sort of nowhere place. HI Express might run a shutlle to it, Walking would be quite difficult., maybe impossible

I agree with others stay downtown, particularly if your interest is in the close in areas.

trimet.org is web site for tri-met. it is fairly user friendly. Zoom in on the map and you can see how most bus lines start downtown. if you know neihborhoods of interest to you you can pick buses fairly easily. The fare system is not so easy. OK once you learn it.

MAX is good way to get to/from airport. Not good for seeing neighborhoods close to center of city.

Portland, Oregon
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7. Re: car vs. transit

Re: Tri-Met fares & zones...you can buy all-day passes good for MAX & busses (All Zones) for $4/day or buy a 7-day pass for $19. Either is a good deal, just depends on how long you'll be visiting. I agree with phirl the fare/zone system is a bit confusing - AZ tickets help you avoid the confusion & save money.

Re: Hotel location. Yes, try Priceline or Hotwire. Not having a car will save you the expensive parking fees the downtown hotels charge. There are a half dozen car rental places downtown for the day you plan to drive. You may consider the Holiday Inn "Downtown" (NE 2nd) for a cheap option...it's across the river near the Rose Garden arena...not a super location but within a few blocks of Rose Garden Transit Center (MAX and many Eastside busses)...the price seems to be right. Read through the recent post titled "Did I pick a bad hotel?" in Portland Forums. Forget about staying at Jantzen or Airport -they're too far from downtown & neighborhoods you want to experience and transit will be much less frequent/convenient.

Enjoy your visit!

Brian

Oregon
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8. Re: car vs. transit

I forgot about those day passes. that would work best for moving about. Most of my bus riding was go some where then back later in day like to work.. then fare is cheaper. but all day is good to get off and on and on again. or better the weekly. That beats cost of renting a car for one day, I think.

9. Re: car vs. transit

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