Locals in Portland, Ore., flocked to center city this past weekend to nab a free ride on the new MAX light rail service. The Green Line, the fifth light rail line in the Portland area, connects downtown to an outlying mall as well as Portland State University, adding 8.3 miles of new track to the system.

TriMet (the county's transportation authority) estimates over 30,000 patrons took advantage of the free service on the Sept. 12 grand opening. According to the Ashland Daily Tidings, the project cost $575.7 million and 60 percent of this cost was subsidized by the federal government. City officials feel the new light rail was well worth the cost, however. The Tidings quotes Peter M. Rogoff, an administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, saying the "new line is going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ... It's going to reduce [the city's] dependence on foreign oil. And it will make an already livable city even more enjoyable."

TriMet also instituted several other green improvements last weekend, including the 22 new, more energy efficient light rail vehicles for the Green Line and re-opening the bike/pedestrian path along I-205 (the same route the rail service follows) that had been closed for trail maintenance. Future plans include a 7.3-mile extension of the Green Line to connect with Milwaukie, a southern suburb of the city.

Portland gets greener
MAX Green Line rail system moves to downtown and add 8.3 miles of track to the Oregon system.