Since October I have worked approximately, nine miles from my house and being without a driver’s license ordinarily hasn’t been a major stumbling block for me. However, somewhere between 2004 and now it feels like Trimet’s service has taken such a nosedive, that it seriously impacts my daily life trying to get from point A to point B. There are a variety of reasons as to why I don’t have a driver’s license, or why I don’t regularly do the whole commute via bicycle. However, in the past couple of years Oregon has created a “moped only” restricted driver’s license and very soon, I should have earned it, have my scooter, and be ready to not only blow by Trimet illegally in the right lane at a blistering 30 mph, but I should be able to do it waving my middle finger like a flag as I pass by.
For a city that prides itself on being so green, its transit system is just flat out abysmal.
And now for a list of the things I won’t miss about riding Trimet. All of these have either happened to me personally or happened to others I know:
*When I’m blurry eyed, sleepy, and barely able to function on my morning commute, I will no longer have to deal with elderly gentlemen, drinking cough syrup out of plastic bags, singing “Turn Down For What” with a voice that sounds like someone stepped on their voice box with a pair of soccer cleats. Honestly, I’ve grown to expect to see weird shit on a Saturday night bus, but more
*No longer will I have to deal with lengthy delays on the MAX because “ERHMAGAWD!!!! THE TEMPERTURE IS OVER 80 DEGREES!!! OUR TRAIN CAN’T WORK IN THIS SWELTERING HEAT!!!” Chicago seems to be able to keep their decrepit transit system running in 105 degree weather in August. Get it together, Trimet.
*Oh, and then there’s how the second it snows a quarter inch the MAX can’t run due to ice on the overhead lines. Again—we live in a temperate climate; figure out your shit.
*Seeing not one, but two different couples screwing at the back of the bus, on the same day before noon.
*Being able to get anywhere I need to go between the hours of midnight and five in the morning.
*Being asked for change, cigarettes, or to sign a petition.
*Safety. There’s pretty much no other way to sum up the biggest issue I have with Trimet. I’ve been riding transit regularly since I was 15 and I have never truly felt safe on transit in Portland. I have been on transit systems in many different cities and countries in the Western world, and never have I felt more at risk for harassment (sexual or otherwise), assault (physical or sexual), robberies, pick pocketing, and pretty much every other thing you can imagine. Part of this is due to the lack of security measures on the system, but also the general free-for-all or cavalier attitude of not only the other riders, but from the employees basically condones and allows for this lowered standard of safety to continue. I’ve been groped for years, pick-pocketed, threatened for years, but now—no more.
*PEOPLE NOT STANDING AT THE BACK OF THE BUS WHEN IT’S CROWDED. Also annoying is when it’s crowded and backpacks/grocery bags are taking up space, but to be honest I don’t completely blame people for doing this. Often times the people taking up two seats are women and it’s basically a safety measure and an act of self-preservation at this point. See above.
*The urine smell in EVERY SINGLE elevator along I-84.
*Hearing long drawn out conversations between riders who just met each other, about what charges they have on their record and what a cow their P.O. is.
*Being asked for change for a fifty after watching a drug deal take place in the wheelchair area of the bus.
*And finally, never again will I have to deal with men pulling my earbuds out of my ears so they can get my attention. How dare you invade my personal space and try to take away a device I use for not only safety of transit, but relaxation away just so I can hear your misogynistic drivel and requests. You know nothing about my experience or what kind of day I’m having. The assumption that I owe it to you to stop everything I’m doing to be subjected to your demands for my phone number, your pick up lines, or your thoughts about my clothes or my body, encapsulates the overall misogyny that we face—regardless of whether transit is involved or not. But by eliminating my use of Trimet, I’m eliminating another form of gender assumptions and oppression I face on a day-to-day level. It’s a small step, but a giant leap for me.