When #38 is not running, or as an alternative to #38:
Which combination works best or beats the #43 depends on the time of day and conditions. #43 is on the far Northern Boundary of our neighborhood, so you have to get to it somehow first... like by walking many minutes. #39 on the other hand, goes along the length of Terwilliger... so many people can come out of the neighborhood to catch it.
Just use Trimet Trip Planner (link below) for Pioneer Courthouse Square to PDX, and enter the time you want to arrive at PDX. Allow time to drive downtown of course. The MAXes do actually run as per schedule. They have to keep them moving, and they control their own right of way for much of their line.
Just head for the MAX station at PDX from the baggage claim area. (The south end). Buy a ticket (notes below) just before going outside. The ride into town is about 40 minutes. You may have to wait 10 minutes before MAX leaves, so make you call to home once the train is moving.
Have your family or a friend pick you up at Pioneer Square. There is a pull-out between the square an Nordstrom - ONE WAY going South. (The Auto-Driver could take I-5 to I-405 to Salmon Street exit).
Getting home, alone. Ask someone you know who rides transit for tips -- Facts like a) where to get on #38 or #12, b) the last #38 out of town is at 6:30 pm, c) the last #12 leaves at 12:32 am.
The Trip Planner will make suggestions on what bus or combination of buses and max will get you
from any address in the region to another address. You can specify whether you have to leave at a certain time, or arrive at a certain time. You can also tell it whether you want the fewest transfers, or shortest time, and how far you are willing to walk. (Note that it might be possible get somewhere quicker if you are willing to transfer, so try different options.)
Go to Trip Planner
I can usually meet my family after work for dinner just about anywhere in the region without using a car, by using the Trip Planner.
Transit Tracker gives you the projected arrival time for any bus at any stop in the system.
This is really handy.
Every busstop in the TriMet system has a Stop ID. You can find them at shelters and on signposts. For example, '929' is the stop in Hillsdale behind Wilson High School on the school's side of the street. Buses that pass that stop are either going downtown, or to OHSU, or to Lewis & Clark College.
When you use the web interface, you can simply choose a bus or max line, then choose a stop by cross-street location rather than Stop ID. Once the page comes up, the Stop ID and arrival time is displayed. You can bookmark that page for future reference, and/or note the Stop ID for use with your cell phone.
I use Transit Tracker at home in the morning via the TriMet website to gauge how soon I need to leave the house. Likewise from my office computer to see how much time I have to catch a homeward bus.. rush or stroll?
When you are away from a computer, you can call it from you cell phone, or access a miniature version of the web site on your mobile device. Fromt he TriMet site:
More recently, many apps such as PDX Bus are available for iPhone and Android smart phones. The apps vary in what they provide - arrival times, trip planning, countdown alarms, etc. Trimet has a whole page of them on their website.
Trimet Portal Prototype.
Trimet Adult fare was simplified in 2012 -- $2.50 for 2½ hours no matter where you ride. A $5 All Day ticket lets you ride till after midnight. (School Kids and Honored Citizens have reduced fares. See TriMet's website.)
PAPER TICKETS: If you buy a $2.50 single ticket from dispenser at a MAX station, it will be printed on-demand with an expiration time on it —
pre-validated — and so time starts ticking when you buy it.
You can get a packet of 10 virgin tickets (Trimet Ticket oOffice, or FredMeyer/Safeway/... customer service counters) so you can have them handy.
MAX: at the platform -- you trade the virgin ticket when you board for one the driver will print the expiration time on it. There are no VALIDATORS on board MAX (otherwise passengers might defer validating or not validate till they saw a fare inspector).
BUS: The MAX ticket can be used to transfer to a bus, but you must exchange it for a paper TRANSFER when boarding. Virgin tickets can be used for bus trips as well, just insert into the fare box slot as indicated, and accept a transfer from the driver. You can opt to pay $2.50 or $5 cash on to ride bus.
FARE INSPECTORS: Keep your validated ticket as proof of paying fare. Show to uniformed inspector if asked.
TriMet Tickets App: You can also purchase
tickets and carry them on your smartphone using the TriMet Tickets app. For example, you might have five ALL DAY tickets and ten 2½ hour tickets stored on your phone. You need WiFi / Internet to purchase tickets, but then you can use them without being net-connected.
You can also ride the Portland Street Car with your valid transfer.
$4 for a two-way ride. An annual or monthly TriMet or Streetcar pass will get you on for free. All others (eg tourist, thrill seekers) must pay to help pay for the operation of the Tram. May be free on Friday nights. Info is current on the Portland Tram page, link below.