Category Archives: Why I Ride

Why I Ride: Deborah S.

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Why I Ride - Deborah S

About me:

I was an elementary school teacher for 22 years, and I’m now retired. Today,  I am a flower gardener, an oil painter, and a writer. I have been legally blind for over 40 years. Quite truly, I could not have achieved what I was able to do without a bus system. The history of what was available to sight impaired or blind people is a sad one, but as a bus traveler I could be involved and working despite vision loss.

“I have been legally blind for over 40 years. TriMet is my lifeline to the world outside my home.”

My post-secondary education was funded by the Oregon Commission for the Blind. The State of Oregon and TriMet assist hundreds upon hundreds of people with physical disabilities, far more than people know. It is the unspoken, quiet efficiency of public agencies forming the necessary network that can result in more and more folks being able to achieve equal opportunities and self-reliant lives.

Why I ride:

TriMet is my lifeline to the world outside my home. I rode to PSU with my young sons, rode to my teaching job with Portland Public Schools for 25 years, and now retired, I use the system for essential needs, but also for fun all over Portland! TriMet gets me to medical appointments, many favorite restaurants, theater events downtown, and theater guild readings at The Old Church.

I also ride TriMet because it is the best financial choice for getting where I need to go and because it is less harsh on the environment. We are a very progressive city, and I love seeing Portland used as a model transit city around the globe.

TriMet took me within walking distance to visit and assist my aging mother at her assisted living centers and nursing homes. I made decisions of where to place her by their access to TriMet. She enjoyed the last ten years of her life so much more because we could ride for hours just to see the sights. I was able to get her to many doctor appointments and senior services because of TriMet. It gave us an independence we were grateful to have.

The thing I like best about living in the Portland area:

You can easily live in Portland without the expense of a car, or if, like me, you cannot drive, you can get pretty much everywhere drivers can go. Parents with strollers, students with tight budgets, people in wheelchairs, the elderly with walkers—all can get around town and retain independence living in Portland.

My advice to other riders:

Always be alert. Make note of the bus number or the number of the MAX car you are on in case you ever need to report something. Take care with your personal items, and keep them in one carry-on bag that has a strap you can put over your head. Don’t spread out all your things on the seat next to you to get better organized. Do that before you leave home. Don’t assume everyone is honest, so don’t reveal that you are carrying several high-priced items like laptops, e-books, iPhones, iPods, or a wallet full of credit cards. Common sense is wise and keeps theft down and safety up. Always be sure your belongings are with you when you get off the transit you are on. You are in charge of your safety and in charge of your comfort as you travel. And don’t forget to relax and enjoy the ride!

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Why I Ride: Amanda-Jane

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Why I Ride - Amanda-Jane

Why I ride

I don’t own a car, and I work downtown. I’ve used the Line 6 for 11 years and more recently the Yellow MAX. My kids ride the bus to get to school and meet their friends. We use the MAX to get to New Seasons, Freddie’s and Ikea for shopping.

Everything I needed to teach my kids about life can pretty much be learned on TriMet. When something funny, cute, or odd happens, we always say, “You don’t see that in the back of a minivan.”

My favorite things to do while riding:

Read, people watch, make new friends, and grade students’ papers.

My insight for non-riders:

Use TriMet. People say it must take a long time, but I can work on TriMet or even do nothing for a minute or two—a very rare thing. I think riding TriMet instead of driving saves me time.

The thing I like best about living in the Portland area:

Portland’s collective character: community counts.

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Why I Ride: Anna M.

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Why I Ride - Anna M

About me:

My name is Anna and I’ve been riding TriMet since 1999. I am a digital marketing consultant to small businesses and non-profits. I love consignment shopping, photography, music, cats, speaking in German, and butterscotch pie.

“I am 37 and have never owned a car.”

Why I ride:

I grew up all over the East Coast and Germany, so living in areas where public transportation was well-established became an essential part of my lifestyle as I became an adult. You see, I am 37 and have never owned a car. I started using buses, streetcars and subways when I was 12, and even then, younger kids were too.

Thirteen years ago, when I was tired of big city life in Chicago, I decided I wanted to move to the West Coast. When I found out that Portland had the most progressive public transportation system in the U.S., it sealed the deal for me.

When I was considering purchasing a modest condo in Northeast, I took the bus to the property to make sure there was adequate access to public transportation. Since there was a bus stop on the corner, that was even more incentive to purchase the place I was considering. Instead of paying for a car, gas and insurance over the years, I was able to make a down payment on a home.

TriMet has helped me get to work for many years. I work from home and take the bus or MAX whenever possible, though it’s not as frequent any more. Occasionally, I’ll meet my other car-less friend downtown who lives in Beaverton and also takes the MAX in so we can visit.

A TriMet story:

I was on a bus recently where we had driven by some kind of police activity. The driver remarked, “You couldn’t pay me enough to do that job!” and I thought, “Wow! You drive a bus, which is one of the most challenging jobs in the city!” I suppose everything is relative.

My advice to other riders:

Some advice for fellow riders: cover your mouth when coughing; don’t put your feet where people sit (my number one pet peeve); keep your bags in your lap when the bus starts to get full; when buses begin to reach maximum capacity, you can stand in the section past the back stairs to make room for others; and exit out the rear door, especially downtown.

Other forms of transportation I use:

Amtrak train, airplanes and the occasional rental car. And boats for whale watching, if I’m lucky.

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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!”