|This might explain why it doesn't show up on time (K.Kesgard)|
I grew up in the land of blue astroturf, potatoes, and gems; my stepfather drove a special minibus for the local urban stages authority, so we got free transit passes. That was how I got about town if my parents weren't able to take me to activities - catching the local line. At that time, the routes were limited and changed depending upon the day, but then again, most residents believed cars rule and other vehicles drooled. It was even odd to be catching to get to school instead of taking a yellow monstrosity like others, but it did allow some flexibility during the sports seasons to get home. When I moved to the world of lilacs, bulldogs and Jesuits for college, I didn't own a car, so getting about town involved either bumming a ride, walking, biking or the coach. Being a broke college student, my money was strictly reserved for food and alcohol, so I spent little time getting to know the transit infrastructure.
|It would be great if all vehicles could get along. (K.Kesgard)|
For the 2 weeks I was here, I interviewed at 7 different companies located in downtown, but I spent the afternoons riding various routes about town. With the color coded, animal inspired division for the varying paths, it was so easy to know which coach took you where. I was fascinated at the concept of making the core of the downtown a transit hub, especially since I would be living here without a car. I was able to see the kitsch of early NW Portland, the grit of inner SE, the sprawl of the westside, the history of North Portland and all parts in between. Granted, the rides took forever at points and it seemed like some of the paths turned all over themselves, but I never felt so connected to a place before - and I became a poster child of the transit program. I grabbed every schedule I could find, purchased the full matrix of options and took the coach everywhere.
|This town has the oddest traffic ever. (K.Kesgard)|
I figured I could survive this because it was a reverse commute of heading from downtown east, and once I figured out the plan, it was relatively painless. The authority had been expanding their options to add more train lines, so at first, it was as simple as one train to a shuttle during work hours. When a line extended its reach out on Sandy Boulevard past my office, it gave me slightly better options in case my shifts ran late, but otherwise, my perfect carless existence was struggling at points if I needed to get to work. I could try to bum rides but most of the time, it was quitting before the last shuttle ran. My life got easier when I could work from home via remote access, but I was hoping that things would get better when I moved out to East County after moving in with my girlfriend (now wife) in 2005. Instead of relying on multiple lines, it was one loop that I could walk to easily to get to the center. Imagine my surprise when that hasn't been the case. Over the years, the route has been altered, added to, subtracted, and tinkered with. The drivers regularly rotate and when it became a full route, the performance went out the window. There are plenty of afternoons where I am standing around and wondering if anything will show up and if the schedule is just a suggestion or not.
|Me in my natural state after work. (K.Kesgard)|
I know the people are trying, and my hashtag isn't meant to antagonize or upset any of them. It's simply my fun way of trying to deal with waiting - something that nobody likes doing ever. I wished there were more productive things to do in queue, but I'm not pulling out a laptop and trying to work in a waiting shelter - although I certainly see it all the time. It's just that in trying to do more, I feel our local agency is doing less with the current and the standard that once was in place isn't there. I rarely heard complaints about missing or broken coaches, but it's now a common refrain. I'm not expecting anything I am typing here to change the world, I'm trying my best to have some humor about a situation many deal with daily - and while it might not be a first world problem, I know it could always be a lot worse. I just wish that wasn't the case, but it starts with communication and a plan. Or maybe one guy and a smartphone.