The original Portland MAX route opened in
1986 between downtown Portland and Gresham, an eastern suburb. That first line was one of the earlier
U.S. "new era" light rail projects, and came to fruition after a public outcry
about, and then abandonment of, a massive freeway project that would have
destroyed or jeopardized many neighborhoods. The growth policies and
environmental awareness of metropolitan Portland have long been considered
among the most enlightened in the nation.
The original route was extended west to Hillsboro in 1998, and the older
portion became known as Eastside MAX. The Red Line added a second
route in the east, branching off for the Airport just beyond Gateway/NE 99th Ave. Transit Center,
with service beginning in 2001. The Yellow Line was added in, leaving
just east of Steel Bridge to neighborhoods to the north. The Green Line became a
third offshoot in 2009, taking
off for Clackamas Town Center at a junction just beyond that of the Red
This section is devoted
to the Blue Line route along the sixteen stations east of the Free Rail Zone
out to the Cleveland Ave. terminal in Gresham. The first four of these stops
are shared with the Red and Green Lines.
In this view taken some years ago, one of what was then the system's newest
"Type-3" cars has led a Blue Line train to the last stop, where it is now
receiving some minor cleaning attention. Fairly shortly it will return
as the rear car on the long run back to Hillsboro.