Here’s an ’86’: In 1986, Portland’s MAX light rail opened, with the Blue Line (now called Eastside MAX) between downtown Portland and Gresham. This was the first light rail line I rode in the United States.

Funding for studying this line in the seventies came from state funds intended for the Mount Hood Freeway – local residents came out against the freeway and forced a cancellation. The line ended up being 83% federally funded, 12% state funded, and 5% locally funded.

Reportedly, in 1988, the line beat its 2005 weekday ridership projections.

And I saved the best for last: Sound Transit projects Link’s operating costs per passenger mile in ST2 to be 86 percent lower than bus service – 15c/mile as opposed to $1.12/mile. If my math is right, as Sound Transit 2 comes online, this will represent operating cost savings of over a million dollars per weekday relative to the same trips on buses.

10 Replies to “86 Days”

    1. I think so, for Expo ’86 hence Expo Line. I don’t know about SkyTrain rider projections but SkyTrain now carries on average 240,000 passengers per day and 73.5 million riders in 2008.

      By the way, Translink completely redesigned their website at translink.ca. Really, really nice. I tipped King County to take notice.

      1. Wow. I didn’t realize it was new at that time, and how uncommon that when we went up to Expo 86 I’d already been on Metro in DC and the subway in Boston, not to mention been on Amtrak. Of course, grandpa did work for a railroad.

  1. Ben, I don’t know how you’re going to pull this off for each of the next 85 days, but it will be fun to watch. Good post.

    1. Remember that’s a passenger mile, not just a mile. It’s not only possible, it’s probably conservative. Granted, when someone in 2030 pulls out “but it’s 30c/mile!” I’m going to smack them – this is in today’s dollars.

  2. I rode muni as a kid, but it was the first “modern” light rail that I rode in my life.

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