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“Good transportation for avoiding Portland traffic”

Metropolitan Area Express (MAX)
Ranked #10 of 452 things to do in Portland
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed August 1, 2014

A quick, easy, and economical way to get around Portland - while avoiding the hassle of parking and the inevitable Portland traffic jams.

If your final destination is downtown, MAX can't be beat.

1  Thank aborgman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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663 - 667 of 798 reviews

Reviewed July 16, 2014

Free within parts of City Center Portland! It's a fun thing to do with the kids. They enjoy riding around town. Just make sure it's not at the time of a Blazers game (some people might have had too much to drink and make the experience less fun for the family).

2  Thank Yanet G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 5, 2014

I'm not sure what I think?! Rode the MAX off and on this past weekend while in PDX. Rode it from the airport into downtown and also to the Expo Center. While the system works, it's very slow and just seems to be tired and run down. As a few other reviewers have mentioned, there appear to be alot of sketchy characters riding the MAX, that can make you feel uneasy or unsafe. On Sunday morning while riding from Gateway to downtown, I thought there was going to be a fight on our train between two rough characters as their argument escalated. Nothing shocking and it can happen on any cities transit system - but it's one of the things I remember about riding the MAX - that and the fact that I don't think I ever saw one security person or attendant at any of the stations or on any of the trains.

The MAX was good in providing transportation out to the Expo Center, but when in PDX again, if not going to the Expo Center, I think I'd prefer driving and parking downtown or wherever else I was going.

2  Thank Suisse19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 26, 2014

Okay, so I'm sure I'm disagreeing with a lot of people on here, but after using MAX for over 7 years, this is what I have to say. SNAIL RAIL! It is soooo slow! It crawls through downtown and is completely not worth it if you're going anywhere else besides downtown. If you want to get from the east side to the west side in reasonable time, drive a car! If going downtown, okay; MAX might work. But when I can drive downtown very quickly (12 minutes if the lights are green), then park for only $1.60 an hour, it typically is much more worth it to drive and park. Portland is not San Francisco or Vancouver BC where parking is astronomically priced. City officials seem scared to raise prices because it will scare away suburban locals. So in a sense, the system does not make sense on both ends. Sorry TriMet but this is one local who is not a fan of your snail rail system.

4  Thank chadpettingill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 1, 2013

I find it baffling that the Portland MAX is so often touted as a great model for the rest of the country. I guess it comes from the attitude that it's better than having nothing at all, which is only marginally true in this case.

The fundamental flaw with the MAX is that it runs on the surface streets, barely able to get you anywhere faster than a car and in many cases much slower. The actual network is fairly limited. There are a great number of Portland attractions that you won't be able to access via the max line. My wife used to have to traverse Portland East/West to get to work. The MAX station was just down the street from our house, and had another station very close to work. Unfortunately we considered it unusable since it wasted at least 20-30 minutes just getting through the downtown surface streets, stopping at every light, etc.

My biggest gripe about the MAX concerns safety. It's fine during the day but very risky in the evening. Far too little security, most of the time nonexistent. There is no access control so sketchy characters can board the train as they please, looking for new targets to mug.

I had one particularly dodgy experience a couple of years ago traveling from the Airport to downtown, I was with my pregnant wife and toddler son. Several dodgy looking young men boarded the train, they were dressed like the typical street kids you see all over downtown PDX. They kept their hoodies pulled over to cover their faces but kept glancing over at us. I travel all over the world to some very poor countries but I've never had a group of people appear so menacing. As soon as we crossed the bridge into downtown, and I could see a taxi, we jumped off the train and got straight in the taxi.

As is often the case with MAX, during the entire ride there was never a single security patrol present on the train. Considering the number of vagrants that jump on board for a free ride I'd say this is negligent. A lot of crime happens very near the MAX stations as well. After my experience I'll never ride the MAX with my family during non busy hours. Shame.

I currently live in Taipei. It's a much bigger city so I can't quite compare, but its relatively new MRT system is vastly superior, safe, fast, cheap, and extensive with no ridiculous lines running on the surface streets. Money would have been better spent adding more bus lines and frequent service, but that's not sexy. Sorry Portland, you need to get out more often and see how a city can really create an effective public transportation system, MAX is just feel good fluff, only fun for the visiting tourist.

6  Thank Michael S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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