Public Transportation in Oregon
The state of Oregon has done an impressive job in urban planning and creating an efficient public transportation system. The cities of Portland and Corvallis are both shining examples of what public funds can do to create bike lanes to promote not only alternative modes of transportation but also health and wellness. As environmental and health concerns related to transportation continue to mount, cities like these will be important case studies in master's degree programs and other contexts of studying urban planning.
Portland consistently ranks in the top five best cities for public transportation in the country. Portland’s public transportation system is called TriMet and includes bus service, light rail service, the WES commuter rail, and the Portland streetcar. The TriMet system not only serves the city proper, but also the suburbs Hillsboro, Beaverton, and Gresham.
One of the best features of the Portland public transportation system is the downtown Free Rail Zone, which includes Pioneer Square, Union Station, and the Rose Quarter. In this central area of the city all light rail and streetcars are free every day of the year.
Portland also ranks at or near the top of most lists of bike-friendly American cities. Many public and private agencies provide free bike maps of the hundreds of miles of bike and walking paths in the greater Portland area. One of the most widely used agencies is the Portland Bureau of Transportation, which provides an extensive amount of information on their website.
Although the city of Corvallis is much smaller than Portland, it also prides itself for great public transportation. It's also known as one of the best cities in the nation for bike access, possibly even better than Portland.
Much of the Corvallis Transit System's ridership is comprised of students attending Oregon State University, located in downtown Corvallis. With a student population of about 20,000, it's comparable to the University of Oregon in Eugene. OSU depends upon the city to provide efficient service to its students as well as the rest of the community.
Oregon doesn't collect a state sales tax, which makes the reality of having one of the best options for alternative transportation in the country even more impressive. Because of the many efficient public transportation systems and efficient bike networks throughout the state, Oregon will no doubt continue to be an exemplar of public transit infrastructure and alternative transportation as we enter an age when personal cars will be more and more untenable.