Some have asked me when the Type 4′s will be put into revenue service; I do not know. They are still going through testing and burn-in. When the day comes that they are out on the alignment, though, we will all celebrate. We need them, and we want them to pick up people, not just pass them on every platform. It’s great to admire them, but even better to ride on them.
One of the trainers told us today that the Type 4′s are amazing light rail vehicles; they are technically very advanced. When I sit down in the cab to operate this train, I have more power, and more advanced technology to help me than I have ever had before. These are not only beautiful looking trains, but extremely advanced trains that will serve our community well.
The Type 4′s will not only run on our new Green Line and new mall, but on all our other lines, as well.
About my run on the new mall:
By the time I operated the train, it was rush hour, but even before that, we had problems with people and cars. Safety on this new mall, with the trains and buses weaving in and out of the stops, creates a unique challenge for both bus drivers and rail operators.
It did not take long to experience our first “challenge”. A lady on a cell phone in a pretty blue car attempted to make a left turn in front of our moving train. My colleague who expertly handled this situation with loud horn, slowing down and finally stopping with great working brakes, was not surprised at the woman’s stupidity. It was a close call; the female driver probably does not realize that my colleague may have saved her life.
When it was my turn to operate, we came to an area with a fence on our right side, very close to the tracks. As we approached, a man and a woman started walking along the fence, ignoring the train and my repeated horns. The man got the message and ran across the street to safety. The woman, around 40, nicely dressed, decided she should try to stand next to the fence, and let the train pass within five inches of her. Crazy.
Both the trainer and I motioned for her to move when I stopped the train about thirty feet from her. Instead of getting out of our way, she started walking up along the fence again. I crept closer to her, still keeping the train about 25 to 30 feet from her, blasting her with the horn. Finally, she realized she was in the wrong spot, and she walked across the street.
Both she and the man could have gone back onto the sidewalk when they first saw and heard the train, but instead thought they could outrun it… Go figure…
The new mall is not that different from some other parts of the alignment. The bus drivers will have the biggest adjustments to make in regard to this new set-up. They will have to leave their service stops on a special traffic signal put in just for them; we do it all the time as rail operators with our trains, but bus drivers have never had a special traffic signal to help them exit a service stop. It will be a challenge and I feel for them. Rail operators will have an easier time on the trains, because the new mall is more “train-ish” than “bus-ish”, meaning that it functions more like a train alignment in the way the signaling system is set up.
The new Pioneer Square platforms are cool; we need to pull up far enough to get out of the way of the trains of Yamhill and Morrison crossing in front of and behind us. Fun!
By Portland State University we will interact with the Portland Streetcar on both 5th and 6th Avenues. It is a matter of first come, first serve. Thus, if I hit the button to call up my train signal before the Portland Streetcar operator calls up his or her signal, I win. The streetcar looses. I will be SO sad… he he
Of course, if the Portland Streetcar gets to it’s signal before I get to mine, I loose, and it could cost me three minutes… Ugh…
You win some, you loose some…
A few blocks south of this fun area, we have the opportunity to interact with the Portland Fire Department on 5th Avenue. Same as above: if the fire department gets to the fire signal before I get to my train signal, I loose. Of course, if I get my train signal, and they push their fire signal after I have my signal, I can go a block or two, and then I must stop. And wait. That’s OK. I really would not want to be in the way of an emergency vehicle.
There are some turns on the new mall that are very tight for a train, but we will do OK at 5 mph or 8 mph – those are our two slowest speeds, other than just coming to a full stop. Since *stop* does not get us far, 5 or 8 through some of these curves will do great.
More later – I will see if I can get down on the mall one day when the weather is better. This new mall and the Type 4′s are hopefully going to be good news for our transit system – I can hardly wait until they are both up and running.