Riding against the Grain: Line 75

6 thoughts on “Riding against the Grain: Line 75”

  1. Great write up on the #75.I drove it as a vacation relief driver from 2007 to 2012.It was one of the most challenging routes to drive in the system.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a beautiful piece. Everyone, especially affluent new-comers, should be required to ride the full length of the 75 and/or 4. It is a good history and sociology lesson.


  3. A beautifully evocative piece (writing & photos) that brings an important slice of Portland to life. Thank you.

    Now for my personal experience of Trimet’s radials & orbitals. When I arrived in Portland at the end of the 80’s, I rented a home near NE Fremont & 24th and worked at Reed College (then SE 36th & Woodstock). Riding a bus to work meant a long walk uphill on Fremont to stand next to Beaumont School (NE Fremont & 42), waiting & waiting for a bus, and then a long walk down from SE 39th (Cesar Chavez today) and across campus. The return trip was equally long (usually about an hour) so I had to consider whether I should walk/ride 2 hours/day, go by bike (1 hour round trip) or drive my car (even faster).

    A year later I moved a mile to NE 15th & Knott which made the car and bike even quicker options, but somehow made the bus worse. Radial option: #8 to downtown, #19 to Reed (at least an hour). Orbitals: #8 to Lloyd Center, MAX to Hollywood, #75 to Reed (over an hour).

    It’s interesting to learn about the thinking behind radicals & orbitals, but the practical reality is that Trimet has essentially written off folks who need to travel between N/NE & SE Portland but aren’t lucky enough to have their destinations linked by a single bus (note: the improvements & extensions to MAX & street car have not helped this problem).


    1. Ironic that for your specific trip, Rose City Transit Co. provided better service. Prior to their last cutback in ’69, the Thirty-Ninth Avenue Line ran between 15th & Knott and the Steele St. side of the Reed campus every 20 minutes on weekdays. I used that south end of the line once on a Saturday to take a test at Reed, and I think it had a 35-minute headway. Looking at old schedules, you would have had about a half-hour commute.

      The Thirty-Ninth Avenue Line was the first Portland bus route and was heavily influenced by the ridership generated by Hollywood and Grant High. Originally, it ended at 22nd & Knott (connections with the BW Line). Before WWII it was extended to Interstate Avenue through the Albina business district. By the time Tri-Met was formed, I-5 had destroyed much of the reason for going there.

      In Tri-Met’s first decade, crosstown lines were scoffed at. This was carried over from RCTCo. It partly reflected old travel patterns, but was also a result of accounting for each route as though it was a small business of its own. If a route carried a lot of transfers, it did not do as well profitwise as a route with more one-seat rides. One attempt at a new crosstown line in 1973, Rte 77, was nearly killed prematurely while two board members who supported it were out of town. It turned out that ridership data offered by the staff to justify axing the experimental service was a cordon count at the Broadway Bridge, not total boardings.


      1. Interesting. After we bought our house in the late 80’s some neighbors said that it had been rented by Reedies back in the 60’s. It seemed strange to me that students would live so far from campus, but now I can explain it: there was a convenient bus connection. Thanks for the info.


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