My quest to ride every single MAX car

Dan Delany and his son on board car 107 in TriMet's maintenance shop.
For the conclusion of Dan Delany’s quest to ride every MAX car, Dan and his son came to TriMet’s Ruby Junction maintenance facility, where the elusive car 107 was in for repairs.

My name is Dan Delany, and I have been on every MAX car.

Like many people, I commute on the MAX trains from outside the city to work in downtown Portland every day. After riding for a few months, I started noticing the car numbers and wondering if I had seen all of the cars. I looked on Wikipedia and learned that there are 127 MAX cars, which made riding all of them seem like an achievable goal.

Once that thought was in my head, at the beginning of August I set out to ride every car. My rules were simple: it only counted if I rode the car at least one stop. Just seeing a car didn’t count; I had to actually ride it. (I did make one exception to this rule at the very end.) Some of my co-workers started to play along too. Our office manager particularly enjoyed letting me know when she rode a car that I still needed to ride.

I never went out with the specific goal of riding MAX cars; I just kept track of cars that I rode when I was riding MAX as part of my routine.

I started posting on Twitter about my project, and @trimet occasionally responded to my tweets with encouraging responses. When I got down to around 10 cars left, I started to be very aware of the cars that I hadn’t yet been on. Car 320 proved to be my nemesis for a while. I kept on seeing it when I was out and about but didn’t get to ride it. I saw it when I was driving in my car. I saw it on other trains while I was riding MAX trains. Once I saw it when I was waiting for my lunch at a food truck downtown. 320 was even in the news after an accident in November.

When I got down to 5 cars remaining, I started putting the list of remaining cars into my tweets, and @trimet told me at one point that one of my remaining cars was in the shop. It was a small effort on their part, but I appreciate that they played along with my goofy little project.

I rode 320 on January 2, just a few weeks after @trimet let me know that it was still out there. 320 was a bit of an event for me. My MAX stop is out near the end of the Blue Line, and when I arrived at the station that morning, 320 was going by on a train headed away from downtown, towards the end of the line. I had some time that morning, so I waited for it to go to the end of the line and come back. It took less than an hour.

As it turned out, I didn’t need to do that. 320 was the car that took me home on Thursday, February 6, the day that Portland’s big snowstorm really kicked in.

I still hadn’t seen 107, but @trimet stepped up and helped me out. On February 14, my son and I went on a tour of the MAX repair facility at Ruby Junction, and we got to see and board car 107 in the shop. Sure, it wasn’t moving, but going on a shop tour made up for that in a big way.

Thank you TriMet for playing along with my project and giving my son and I a fun daddy-son adventure!

 

About the author: Dan Delany is an engineer at New Relic, a software company downtown.  He tries to drive his car as little as possible.