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Updated: Portland Unified Rail Map, September 2012

Portland Unified Rail Map, September 2012

Today is the end of an era in Portland, Oregon.

TriMet, under budgetary stress, has done away with the much-loved Free Rail Zone, which allowed free travel by light rail and streetcar within the “Fareless Square” area of downtown Portland and the Lloyd Center. Not too long ago, Fareless Square also applied to buses in the same area, so the writing’s been on the wall for a while.

At the same time, TriMet has also done away with its three different fare zones, instead opting for a “go anywhere fare”, currently priced at $2.50 (A two-zone fare used to be $2.10 and a three-zone fare $2.45, so this is a fair price hike for most users of the system). However, all-day passes now only cost twice as much as a normal ticket, so they offer great value: even if you only use it to go somewhere and back, you haven’t lost out – and you have the flexibility to use it more than that if need be.

To mark this day – for better or for worse – I thought I’d update my Unified Rail Map of Portland to reflect these changes.

I’ve created two versions: one which shows MAX light rail and the Portland Streetcar as it will appear on September 22 when the Central Loop streetcar line through the inner eastside to OMSI opens, and another which adds lines currently under construction: the Portland-Milwaukie light rail line and the completion of the Eastside streetcar loop, both going over the new TriMet bridge that is currently taking shape in the middle of the Willamette.

Gone from the original map is the northern extension of the Yellow Line over the Columbia River into Vancouver. It’s still in early planning, and – with the way the Columbia River Crossing bridge is currently going – may very well never be built.

The removal of the zones certainly helps make the map cleaner, although it made the solid black background a bit overpowering, so I’ve knocked it back to a dark grey instead.

As usual, comments are welcome. Large (4000-pixel wide) versions are available over on Flickr: here for the current system only, and here for the map including current construction.


  1. Nathanael

    Nice maps.

    Comment 1. I don’t think there’s much benefit from showing the full twistiness of the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail between SW Moody and SW Lincoln, and it certainly makes the map less readable.

    While adherence to geography in *station locations* is useful, adherence in *line routings* is usually completely pointless, except for the benefit of railfans and planners.

    Comment 2. I don’t think the separate color markings for “future routes” are really desirable, and they’re visualy distracting. While these are popular when governments are putting maps on station walls, they are unnecessary in most other formats, and especially if you have separate “current map” and “planned 2014 map” maps.

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