OSCON 2012 Travel Annoyances

Trimet LogoMy trip from San Jose to OSCON 2012 in Portland wasn’t exactly smooth sailing …


I took a 6:15 am Alaska Air flight to PDX on a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, the TriMet MAX light rail to OCC, and still arrived at the Oregon Convention Center before 9:30 am.

The Q400 is a very powerful 70-pax turboprop (twin 5,000 HP engines), but also very small inside.

Standard carry-on luggage cases are collected at the ramp and stowed under the plane since the overhead “bins” are only tall enough for purses, cameras, briefcases and flattened backpacks. Also, my window seat did not have enough room for my feet to rest flat on the floor.

Upon landing … hmm … no jetway.

It was quite a hike from the ramp to the terminal entrance with hand luggage. The total walk to the MAX light rail was close to a mile, about half outside the terminal and half inside.


The MAX light rail did not function for the return trip to PDX.

First, the 2 main ticket kiosks at Convention Center station did not work correctly. The cash payment machine was out-of-service, and the credit card one couldn’t read my Mastercard. So I walked from the passenger island back to the sidewalk and was able to use a cash kiosk, but ended up missing the first red MAX Airport train.

Once on the train, I expected an easy 30 minute trip, but instead it took about 1.5 hours. The first half of the trip took 15 minutes per stop instead of 2 minutes, then we were told to get off and find a shuttle bus to the airport.

After milling around for a few minutes, a bus arrived. We promptly filled it and the bus took off. At no point did the train staff explain what the problem actually was, or how long it would take to fix. A train employee said that the airport was informed of train delays.

Trimet MAX Status for 2012-07-20

Moral: the Trimet website might have the reason for delays, even if the conductor’s announcements are unhelpful.

I arrived at PDX with only 29 minutes until takeoff, so the boarding pass kiosk told me to line up at the airline desk. Once there, I was admonished for being late and given a standby pass. When I mentioned that there was train trouble, the response was, “So? Our schedule doesn’t depend on the train.”

I got to the gate with 5 minutes to takeoff time, and the gate employee finally gave me an assigned seating boarding pass.

After a nice, short 90-minute flight in a 737 we disembarked using a jetway and arrived at one of the closest gates to the terminal exit! I was out of the terminal in less than one minute after stepping off the jetway.

The TriMet Story

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