Question: What are the different types of train cars on MAX? Part 1
This is basic stuff for people who already know a bit about MAX, but I’ve seen people question what things like “Type 1” or “Type 4” refer to, so here’s a quick overview of the train car types. TriMet currently has four different types of train cars in use on the rail system (not counting the streetcars or the vintage trolleys). This is part one of a series of 3 posts describing the different car types.
Type 1 – cars 101 through 126
The Type 1s are the original cars (manufactured by Bombardier) from when MAX light rail service began. Each Type 1 car has two cabs, one in each end, so they are technically capable of being run as a single-car train. However, they are always coupled to a low-floor car because they are not accessible to people with mobility devices. Some of these cars will have TriMet’s new color scheme (like this one), some will have the old color scheme, and some will have full-body ads. Unlike the rest of the fleet where the destination signs scroll automatically, the signs in a Type 1 must be cranked by hand.
They are high floor cars, so passengers need to climb up a few steps to get into the car from the platform. In my opinion, these are the most comfortable cars (maybe due to the higher floor? I’m actually not sure) to ride in despite their age – the original length of the Blue Line opened in 1986, but the first of these light rail cars were delivered to Portland in 1984. They’ve been somewhat modernized since then, adding HVAC systems and automated passenger announcements. These cars originally had no air conditioning and passengers had to pull a cord, similar to what buses currently use, to request their stops which were announced over the PA by the train operator. Trains now stop at all platforms, making that system unnecessary.
Although TriMet uses Type 1s on all lines, I personally think these are best suited to the Blue Line – the steps are a pain to navigate if you’ve got luggage and are taking a Red Line train to or from the airport, and the manual sign change just seems a bad idea with the color-changing Green and Yellow lines. But hey, it’s not my decision to make, so you will see these in service on all parts of the alignment.
Type 1s will always be coupled with a Type 2 or a Type 3 for wheelchair and other mobility device accessibility – here I’m in the leading car which is a Type 1, looking back to the low-floor wheelchair accessible Type 3 as the trailing car. Gone are the days of the wheelchair lifts! They’ve all been removed from the alignment. Pictured below is the last remaining one that had been used for the Vintage Trolley, but now that that only runs a few times a year and doesn’t leave the Transit Mall, this wheelchair lift has also been removed.
These were time consuming to use, so the new bridgeplates that are used on the low-floor cars (those posts soon to follow) are a huge improvement for boarding passengers with mobility devices.
Up next: the first low-floor light rail cars in the USA!