2011/Getting Around Portland

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  • Google Maps for driving, transit, cycling & walking directions for the Portland area.
  • Portland Afoot Online Magazine.
  • Elliot Center has directions for public transit and instructions for parking.

Public Transit

The Elliot Center is located within the free transit zone so if you stay within this zone you can get around for free on either the MAX or streetcar (must always pay fare on bus). If you travel outside the zone, say to the zoo or the airport, it will cost $2.05 for regular fare and $2.35 if you're going several zones. You can also get a day pass for $4.75 or weekly and monthly passes if you plan to stay for longer. The closest streetcar stops are 11th and Jefferson (to go south) or the Portland Art Museum on 10th and Jefferson to go north (Art Museum has Free Friday June 24, 5-8 pm.) The closest MAX stops are Galleria (red/blue lines) on either SW Morrison (Westbound Stop ID 8334) or SW Yamhill (Eastbound Stop ID 8333) depending on which direction you are going.

  • Tri-Met (Portland & Oregon suburbs) is Portland's Bus & MAX Train Service & has an on-line Trip Planner.
  • Tri-Met Single 2-hour fares, Day Passes, 7-Day Passes, 14-Day passes or the entire Month Pass for 2 Zones or All Zones can be purchased at any fare Kiosk at a Tri-Met MAX Train stop, or at the Tri-Met office in the Info Center at Pioneer Square Downtown — 503.238.7433 [1].
  • Portland International Airport (Airport Code: PDX) has a Tri-Met MAX Train, the Red Line, that goes from there directly into Downtown, near most of the Hotels and the Eliot Center venue, and then continues on West to the suburb of Beaverton [2].
  • Tri-Met is very technically oriented. There are many free apps for Android and iOS that will not only give you the route schedules but also help you get from "where you are" to wherever you want to go. Further, you can text the "stop id" (listed at most all bus & MAX train stops) come of any stop you're at to the number 27299 for real-time information on the next bus arrivals. Tri-Met also has a very comprehensive list of all third-party mobile apps for Android, iOS, Blackberry, etc., you can download and use while in Portland. Alternatively, you can just point your WAP enabled phone browser at Tri-Met's Mobile Web Site [3].
  • C-Tran (Vancouver, Washington) Trip Planner.


Portland is well-known for its local bike culture. You may recall us from such acclaims as "The #1 bike city in America" and "the first large American city to achieve Platinum bike friendly status from the League of American bicyclists". As Stephen Colbert said to Portland's famed band The Decemberists when they appeared on his show, “So, did you ride your bikes here?” In conjunction with Tri-Met transit (all of which allows your bike on board, too!), there are few areas of the metro area for which one needs a car to get around in a reasonable amount of time. And, automobile operators are generally very friendly to people on bicycles--Portland is a safe place to ride (but helmets are still a good idea!)

Getting around Portland is easy. Google Maps' mobile application has a "bicycling" layer that will illustrate preferred bike routes. You can legally ride anywhere (except the interstate) but the green routes on google maps are the easy ones. If you're on a laptop, you might try the site byCycle.org which will help you plan a route! (Google Maps has a similar tool integrated, if you select 'bicycle directions' when using it to get directions.)

This year's Open Source Bridge takes place during Pedalpalooza, Portland's annual bike fun festival. Check out that link for the calendar of many daily rides, nearly all of which are free and fun. And for advice from local bike enthusiasts with an edge, you might check out Shift, which is a website and mailing list (the mailing list is the best place to get info) operated by advocates of bike fun. This includes most biking — from racing to off-road riding to costumed mobile dance party rides. Yeah, there are some of those on the Pedalpalooza Calendar during OS Bridge!

There are several bike rental companies in town if you need a bike. These 2 are good companies:

In case you want more info about the state of bike advocacy in Portland and Oregon, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance or BTA has more info. Their office is located downtown just north of NW 5th Ave & NW Couch.

On Foot

You may be interested in portland's finest in pedestrian news, at Portland Afoot.

Portland Walking Tours offers several unique tours afoot through our fair city, from an historic stroll to chocolate decadence to the more bizarre sides of Portland — (503) 774-4522.

By Car

Portland has fabled natural beauty just beyond of the edges of the city. You may wake in the morning to a breath-taking sunrise from behind Mt Hood or become enchanted with the call to explore the edges of the world, watching the sunset into the Pacific. Each destination is about a ninety-minute drive away, with forest mountain foothills, and high-plain dessert inbetween. So, If you *must* have a car, here are some suggestions.

1) A few words about Zipcar — Zipcar is a car sharing service (not quite a rental, not quite a lease) that has taken root in a number of major cities in the U.S. Portland is no exception and Portlanders love their Zipcar service. If you only need a car for occasional trips in a metropolitan area, this is the service for you. You pay a yearly fee (standard is $75/year) plus an hourly rate depending on the car you drive, and that's it. Insurance and gas are all paid for under those fees (there's a gas card to pay for gas at all local stations and you can buy extra insurance if you wish, so you don't get hit with a larger deductable). They also have a special Monday through Thursday nights to keep the car out all night at a low flat fee, 6 pm — 8 am. There are a few Zipcars just a couple of blocks from the Eliot Center venue and many more in the Portland downtown area around hotels Zipcar. Local Zipcar office to get signed up: 739 Southwest 10th Avenue, Portland - (503) 328-3539 [4].

2) This is the list of car rental agencies for downtown Portland from a Google search:

3) If you want to go like the pros, then Portland International Airport (PDX) has the most expansive and comprehensive options for rentals. Again, Portland's nationally-acclaimed mass transit system makes getting to the airport a breeze. Pick up the RED MAX lightrail train Airport headed east at SW 9th Ave and Yamhill Stop ID 8333 , approximately three blocks south and three blocks east of the Elliot Center (by the Main Library) and ride it to the end of the line to the airport. It lets out at the passenger arrival area where the car rentals are located.

OHSU Aerial Tram

The Oregon Health Sciences University Tram is a way to get the big picture view of Portland. It's the loveliest six-minute ride to nowhere you may ever take. It is easily accessible by trolley, going to either the SW Moody &Gibbs or OHSU commons stop on the south end of the route. It is worth the trip as the facility hangs off the east face of the west hills for stunning views with both open balcony seating and open wifi. As the university hospital and research facility has decent cafeteria fare, not a bad option for lunch and on Tuesdays there's a small farmers market from 11-3 with many fresh options to eat. The tram runs from 5:30 am to 9:30pm on weekdays, 9-5 Saturday, and 1-5 Sundays and is $4 round-trip.