Ride the Goldilocks Train

Skier in downtown Portland during Feb. 2014 snowstorm. Photo by Steve Morgan.

By Lars Larson

Like the song says, “the weather outside is frightful” and it poses all kinds of challenges. I certainly understand when city buses can’t make it up some of the steep inclines even with chains on. But every time there’s weather like this, light rail drives me crazy. There are trains and light rail and even trolleys all over America that run in more cold and snow than Portland or Seattle get every few years. Yet last night, I was watching all the reports of where light rail was in trouble with frozen switches and iced up electric wires.

Government is always promising to plan twenty or fifty years into the future, but apparently when they designed light rail, no one said “hey, doesn’t it get cold around here?” “Should we make the train run even when its below freezing?” So on the days when light rail is in heavy demand, Trimet should be called “un-met” as in expectations. Light rail doesn’t run right when it’s too hot and doesn’t run right when it’s too cold. It only runs right when the weather is just right. I call it the Goldilocks Train.

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