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Willie Weir : October 7th, 2009

First Impressions: A Tale of Two Train Stations

Portland Train Station

Portland's Train Station

Seattle's Train Station

Seattle's Train Station

Two cities. Two train stations. Two completely different vibes and messages.

Portland’s AMTRAK station:
Walk outside the doors and you see the Greyhound station 500 feet away. A light rail train glides by. Bike paths with signage pointing you toward downtown are clear and highly visible. Wide sidewalks too.
The message is clear without a word being spoken. The physical surroundings announce, “Welcome to our city. Come explore. We assume you don’t have your own car. In fact, thanks for not driving.”

Seattle’s AMTRAK station:
Walk outside the doors and … you are greeted by an ENORMOUS parking lot for Qwest field. A few taxi’s are waiting at the curb. Yes. Seattle has bike lanes and local bus service, even light rail. But where are they? I guess you have to be a local to know that the Greyhound station is across town. No easy bus connection and a very long walk with baggage. The bus tunnel and light rail are a couple of blocks away … but that appears to be privaleged information as well.

The physical environment screams, “You’re on your own. Take a cab and remember to drive your own car next time.”

First impressions? As a cyclist or pedestrian, Portland embraces you … while Seattle tolerates you.

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