Moving to Portland - Transportation

Neighborhoods     |     Housing     |     Transportation     |     Culture & Recreation

Portland is one of the most pedestrian- and transit-friendly cities in the United States. Unlike many U.S. cities, a car is not necessary to access much of downtown Portland and the surrounding suburban communities. Below, learn about the numerous modes of transportation available in the Portland Metropolitan Area. All of Portland's public transportation is ADA accessible.

Go By Foot

Overall, Portland has a Walk Score of 63, but many neighborhoods have Walk Scores in the high 90s. With it's short city blocks, and numerous bridges spanning the Willamette River, much of Portland's close-in east and west side neighborhoods are highly pedestrian-friendly. Furthermore, with 16% of Portland's city area designated as parkland, there are numerous nature hiking trails.

Portland Walking Routes - Portland Bureau of Transportation's suggested routes
Portland Trail Maps - City of Portland's Park and Recreation Trail Maps

Go By Bike

Portland is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, having received many accolades for its promotion of bicycling as a primary form of transportation, and for its many on-street bicycling facilities and resources. Most Portland streets have designated bicycle lanes. In many areas, the City of Portland has designated Neighborhood Greenways where bicycles are given priority over automobiles. Bikes may be brought on board all of Portland's public transportation systems, making car-free transportation more convenient. For the avid cyclist, Oregon has many mountain biking trails, paved and gravel trails, and a Scenic Bikeways program that highlights much of Oregon's scenic, natural, historic, and cultural experiences.

Bike Trail Maps - Walk/Bike Trail Maps provided by the City of Portland
Portland By Cycle - Rides and classes organized through the City of Portland
Neighborhood Greenways - Maps and information about Portland Neighborhood Greenways
Providence Bridge Pedal - An annual organized bike ride across all of Portland's bridges.
RideOregon - Travel Oregon's official cycling resource.
BikeTown - Portland's bike share program with 1,000 bikes at 100 stations across downtown and several neighborhoods.

Go By Car

While Portland is easily navigated without a car, getting around with a car is also easy.

Major Freeways - Downtown Portland is encircled by Interstate 5 to the east and Interstate 405 to the west. Originating from Interstate 5 is Interstate 84, also called the Banfield Expressway, which connects Portland to the Columbia River Gorge, Idaho, and Utah. U.S. Highway 26 runs east-west through Portland, connecting it to Oregon's coast and to Mount Hood.

Parking - For car owners, many corporately-managed apartment buildings charge a monthly fee to lease a parking space in their garage or lot. Postdocs should budget accordingly. For street parking, The City of Portland maintains over 9,000 metered parking spaces throughout the city separated into four distinct parking meter districts - Downtown, Lloyd, Marquam Hill, and Central Eastside - each with various parking rates and hours of operation. For residents of certain neighborhoods, the City of Portland offers an Area Parking Permit Program that allows residents to exceed posted parking time limitations.

Portland Metered Parking Rates and Times
Portland Area Parking Permit Program

Car Sharing - For those who want the convenience of a car without the responsibility of ownership, both ZipCar and Car2Go offer car sharing services in Portland. Current postdocs can utilize discounted membership fees and rates with ZipCar through OHSU's Employee Discounts program.

Cell Phone Usage - In Oregon, only adults (18+ years old) may use a cell phone while driving ONLY when using a hands-free device or accessory. While driving, talking or texting without the use of a hands-free accessory is illegal for an individual of any age.

Go By Bus

The Portland Metropolitan Area is served by two transit authorities - Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet), which maintains bus and rail systems; and the Clark County Public Transit Benefit Area Authority (C-TRAN), which maintains a bus system within Clark County, WA, including lines that connect to Portland, OR.

TriMet Bus - With nearly 80 lines, 13 of which provide frequent service every 15 minutes or better, the TriMet bus system serves most of the Portland Metropolitan area and connects to the TriMet MAX and WES light rail lines, Portland Streetcar, and the Portland Aerial Tram. Fares range from $2.50 for 2.5 hours to $5.00 for a day pass. Validated TriMet tickets are valid on all TriMet bus lines, light rail lines, the Portland Streetcar and Aerial Tram, and on local and limited C-TRAN routes.

TriMet System Map
TriMet Mobile Ticketing App
- TriMet fares can be purchased using your smartphone
TriMet Trip Planner - Plan your trip online

C-TRAN Bus - Serving Clark County, WA, C-TRAN buses also serve Downtown Portland, Lloyd District, and Marquam Hill. Fares between Clark County and Portland range from $2.50 for a single ride to $7.70 for a day express pass. C-TRAN all-zone or express fares are valid on TriMet buses and trains.

C-TRAN System Map
C-TRAN Fares & ID Cards

OHSU provides subsidized annual transit passes for all employees, including postdocs.  The TriMet Universal annual transit pass is valid on all TriMet service, Portland Streetcar, and C-TRAN service except C-TRAN Express. Passes are active August through August of the following year. The price for an annual pass in 2015 was $60 - a significant discount over the retail price of $1,100.

Go By Rail

TriMet MAX and WES

TriMet maintains two light rail lines in the Portland Metropolitan Area - the Metropolitan Area Express, referred to as the MAX, and the Westside Express Service, or WES, Commuter Rail.

MAX Light Rail - Consisting of five separate lines, TriMet's MAX connects Portland City Center to Beaverton, Clakamas, Gresham, Hillsboro, Milwaukie, North and Northeast Portland, and the Portland International Airport.

Fares range from $2.50 for 2.5 hours to $5.00 for a day pass. Validated TriMet tickets are valid on all TriMet bus lines, light rail lines, the Portland Streetcar and Aerial Tram, and on local and limited C-TRAN routes.

OHSU provides subsidized annual transit passes for employees. The TriMet Universal annual transit pass is valid on all TriMet services. Passes are active August through August of the following year. For postdocs, the price for an annual pass in 2015 was $60 - a significant discount over the retail price of $1,100.

TriMet Rail System Map

Portland Streetcar

The Portland Streetcar is owned by the City of Portland, but operated and maintained by TriMet. With two lines, the Portland Streetcar serves areas surrounding Downtown Portland.

North/South Line - Also called the NS Line, this loop connects South Waterfront to NW 23rd Ave in the Alphabet District, with stops in between at Portland State University, Downtown, and the Pearl District.

Central Loop Lines - Consisting of an A Loop and B Loop, running clockwise and counter clockwise, respectively, the Central Loop Lines connect South Waterfront to the Central Eastside and the Lloyd District on the east side of the Willamette River, and the Pearl District, Downtown, and Portland State University on the west side.

An OHSU ID card is considered valid fare on all Portland Streetcar lines. In other words, the Portland Streetcar is free for all OHSU employees.

Portland Streetcar Map


For excursions beyond the Portland city limits, Amtrak provides three train routes from Portland's Union Station. The Amtrak Cascades route begins in Eugene, OR and heads north to Salem, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, and Vancouver, BC. The Coast Starlight route connects Portland to Seattle and to Los Angeles. The Empire Builder route connects Portland to Spokane, St. Paul/Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Chicago.

Portland Union Station - Amtrak

Go By Tram

The Portland Aerial Tram is owned by the City of Portland, and operated by OHSU. Connecting OHSU's South Waterfront campus to the Marquam Hill campus, the Aerial Tram receives as many as 20,000 passengers in one day, as it carries not only OHSU employees, but patients, their families, and tourists. The Aerial Tram was designed and installed to keep Marquam Hill accessible to patients and residents of the residential neighborhood, as only two 2-lane roads provide access to the Marquam Hill campus.

On clear days, the Aerial Tram provides spectacular views of Portland, Mt. Hood, Mt. Saint Helens, and Mt. Adams. On exceptionally clear days, Mt. Rainer is visible.

The roundtrip fare for the Aerial Tram is $4.50 payable at the Lower Tram Terminal; however, OHSU employees may ride the tram for free.

Go By Tram - Official website of the Portland Aerial Tram