Why I Ride: Paul Wood and Frances Sexton

Why I Ride - Paul and Frances

For more than 30 years, rain or shine, Paul Wood and Frances Sexton took TriMet from Southeast Portland to their jobs at Alsco-American Linen Company in North Portland. Today, as active retirees, the brother and sister still count on the bus and MAX to get them where they want to go.

TriMet has truly been the lifeline to independence for the siblings, who both have developmental disabilities and have never held a driver’s license.

They worked a collective 60 years before retiring—Frances at the end of 2009 and Paul in August 2010. They say the only way they could have done so is by riding TriMet, nearly two hours each way.

For the first two decades or so, they caught the Line 17-Holgate toward downtown and transferred to Line 5-Interstate. After the MAX Yellow Line opened in 2004, they incorporated the train into their commutes.

“We love it. We take it to places and places and places!”

“Paul and Frances were the best workers you could find anywhere,” says Linda Klemsen, human resources manager for Alsco-American. “Their shifts started at 6:30 a.m., and they used TriMet to get here. If it was snowing or icy, no matter what, they always made it to work.”

They don’t seem to mind having had to to catch their bus at 4:40 a.m. for 30 years. “TriMet was always reliable, especially on winter days,” says Frances. “And I’ve made good friends with people on the bus.”

Some of these friends are TriMet operators, including Paul Johnson, a TriMet employee since 1994, who says the siblings are “among TriMet’s most loyal advocates and appreciative riders.”

Today, they still rely on TriMet. Paul takes Line 17 to the Downtown Chapel once a week to volunteer. They’ve also taken the bus or MAX to acting class, on trips to the zoo, to Portland Beavers games and Octoberfest at Oaks Park. Every Sunday, the two take the Line 12 to church on Sandy Boulevard.

“We love it,” says Paul. “We take it to places and places and places!”