New Student Guide to Portland Transit

The beauty of Portland State’s location in the center of one of the best cities for public transportation in the U.S. is that students have easy and affordable access to all that Portland has to offer. And Portland’s public transit system (TriMet) is not limited to downtown, but stretches far and wide—from Forest Park to the Portland International Airport to the many towns surrounding Portland. With all of the buses, the trains and even a bike sharing system, PSU students can get around without the hassle or expense of a car.

TriMet is an easy system to use, but it can be confusing at first. That’s why we’ve compiled everything PSU students should know about TriMet and the transportation options in the Portland metro area.

Transportation Options

PSU’s Transportation & Parking Services is an excellent source of information. Check out their outline of all the ways new students can get to campus.

By Car

Commuting by car can be the most expensive transportation option—since PSU is located in downtown Portland, parking is extremely limited. PSU has a variety of parking permit options.

  • Carpooling: Students can reduce costs and emissions by carpooling, signing up for a Carpool Permit or sharing rides with Drive Less Connect (a free service offered by the State of Oregon that helps coordinate carpooling).
  • Carsharing: Students can use car-sharing services rather than own their own cars. Zipcar has nearly 30 cars, trucks and vans available for rent by the hour, day or weekend. PSU students are eligible for discounted membership. Car2Go and ReachNow also provide on-demand carshare vehicles in Portland.

TriMet

TriMet provides bus, light rail and commuter rail service in the Portland metro region. TriMet’s transportation options connect people with their community, while easing traffic congestion and reducing air pollution—making the region a better place to live.

  • Buses: TriMet offers almost 80 bus lines, with many buses running every 15 minutes or less during most of the day. There are multiple bus lines with stops at PSU.
  • MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) Light Rail: Like the buses and streetcar, the MAX lines run frequently throughout the day. The five color-coded MAX lines connect the far corners of Portland and surrounding suburbs. There are even convenient park and ride locations that make it easy to drive part way and hop on the MAX, enabling commuters to avoid the struggle of limited downtown parking. The Orange Milwaukie line, Yellow Expo Center line and Green Clackamas Town Center line make stops at the South end of campus and at Urban Center. Riders can connect to the Blue Hillsboro/Gresham line and Red Beaverton/Airport line just North of campus.

Streetcar

Portland Streetcar: This streetcar system offers two loop routes around downtown Portland, with streetcars running both clockwise and counterclockwise. The Portland Streetcar runs through the center of PSU campus, including stops in the Urban Center Plaza and Park Blocks. The Portland Streetcar is FREE to all PSU students—the PSU ID card is valid fare.

Other Transportation

BIKETOWN: This bike-sharing program has 1,000 bikes at over 100 stations around Portland available for rent. PSU students get 90 minutes of ride time on BIKETOWN bikes per day FREE. To take advantage of this, students must sign up for a PSU Student Plan.

Portland Aerial Tram: This tram is as much a tourist destination as it is practical transportation, carrying riders 500 feet above the city with breathtaking views. It connects the South Waterfront district to the main Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus.

LIFT Paratransit Service: TriMet offers shared-ride public transportation services for people with a disability or disabling health condition that makes them unable to use regular buses or trains. Rides are arranged in advance by reservation.

WES (Westside Express Service) Commuter Rail: Unlike the MAX, this rail line only serves commuters West of the Willamette (Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville), running during morning and afternoon rush hours every 30 minutes.

Cost

The TriMet system allows people to ride all buses, Streetcar, MAX and WES with a single valid TriMet fare. Individual adult tickets can be purchased at $2.50 for 2.5 hours or $5.00 for all day.

The TriMet Hop card allows riders to tap their card on the green Hop reader when they get on. The Hop card charges riders and keeps track of their fares—Hop card users never pay more than a day pass in a day or month pass in a month ($100 per month). A monthly pass is also valid on the Aerial Tram. The Honored Citizen Hop card gives reduced fare to low-income riders, seniors and riders with disabilities. Honored Citizens pay up to 50% less than standard adult fare.

The Hop card can be purchased and reloaded at hundreds of local stores, including supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores. They can also be reloaded online or by app, making them convenient and easy to use. Android users can also download a virtual Hop card, so they can tap their phone on the Hop reader to purchase fare. The TriMet Tickets app allows users to purchase single day tickets on their phone.

PSU students can also get the Student FlexPass, a reduced-rate, quarterly transit pass valid on all TriMet buses, MAX trains, Streetcars, WES train, Aerial Tram and C-Tran local bus services (buses running in Clark County, Washington, and into Portland). The 3-month FlexPass costs $174, compared to $100 per month for public TriMet rate. The pass is a sticker applied directly to the PSU ID. The FlexPass, unlike the Hop card, is not scanned when riders enter transit, it just needs to be displayed to show valid fare.

Navigating

The PSU Campus Map is a good place to start to get a sense for the transit options and where they stop on campus.

Google Maps is an excellent app to use in determining your the best route to campus. It has fairly up-to-date arrival times and allows for trip customization, like prioritizing shortest walking distance or fewest transfers.

TriMet has an extensive list of third-party apps that can help show real-time arrivals and plan trips.

The BIKETOWN app allows users to find bike stations and pay as they ride—remember PSU students get 90 minutes per day free.

Tips and Tricks

TriMet buses often have many small stops along their routes, so they do not announce every stop. Riders unfamiliar with the area may find it helpful to watch their movement and track stops on a map app or tell the bus driver where they want to get off.

Bus drivers check fares as riders get on, but there is no consistent system for checking fares on MAX and Portland Streetcars. Transit police officers periodically check fares and issue warnings, citations and exclusions for riders without a valid fare, so riders should remember to always have valid fare on them.

Most of Portland’s public transit does not run between midnight and 5 a.m., so riders should make sure to understand the schedules and know how they will get to their destination ahead of time.  

TriMet periodically offers free transit rides and extended late-night hours on holidays to keep Portlanders safe, so stay informed about these offers by following TriMet on Twitter.

Check out PSU’s Transportation & Parking Services to learn more.

Four Years Free



Earning a college degree is one of the best ways to access a fulfilling career path, and graduating with as little debt as possible gives you even more freedom to pursue your passions.

Let us introduce you to Four Years Free, a new program with a bold commitment: If you are an eligible Oregon resident, PSU will cover standard tuition and mandatory fees for all four years of your bachelor’s degree, plain and simple.

At PSU, we are committed to your success and we want you to join the ranks of PSU graduates who are making a difference, whether that means you’re designing at Nike, innovating at Intel, or winning the Pulitzer Prize.

Current Oregon residents are eligible for Four Years Free if they are:

  • Current residents of Oregon and graduate from an Oregon high school
  • Admissible to PSU as a first-year freshman for fall term
  • Have a 3.4+ cumulative unweighted high school GPA
  • Eligible to receive a federal Pell grant as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Enrolled, full-time at PSU (12 to 15 credits per term)

National data shows that students who start at a four-year college are more likely to graduate in four years. This is why we’ve made the commitment to help Oregon students earn a bachelor’s degree and set them on the right track for their careers.

There is no age limit, as long as you can be admitted as a first time freshman, you could be eligible for Four Years Free.

Your next steps:

  • Apply to PSU  (no later than May 1)
  • Submit your FAFSA by February 1 (don’t forget to add PSU: school code 003216)
  • Submit your final high school transcripts to PSU by August 1

Four Years Free means not having to worry about paying for tuition. Instead, you can focus on getting an internship, joining a club, attending events and getting to know downtown Portland.

Learn more about FYF

What You Need to Know About Orientation

Do I need to wear flannel if I move to Portland? Where’s the best coffee? Wait, there’s a bowling alley on campus?!

We know you have questions about Orientation, and we’re stoked to answer them. Here are the most common questions we get AND the answers. Have more questions? Email us at orientation@pdx.edu.


Do I have to go to Orientation?

You sure do! You will not receive course registration access without completing an orientation program. Besides, there’s no better way to start off your PSU experience, you’ll meet faculty, academic advisors, current students and folks from PSU’s resource centers, student groups and, of course, fellow incoming students!

What if I am from out of state student and can’t make it to an Orientation session in Portland?

If you’re from Hawaii or California, we are hosting sessions in your state! Register online as soon as possible because the sessions are approaching quickly. If you are coming from another state besides Hawaii or California, or from outside of the US, contact us at orientation@pdx.edu! International students are required to attend International Student Orientation, learn more.

Out of State Dates and Locations

  • Monday, May 21, 2018 –  Burbank, California
  • Tuesday May 22, 2018 – Pleasant Hill, California
  • Thursday, May 24, 2018 – Honolulu, Hawaii

How long is Orientation?

Transfer sessions run for half the day, about 4.5 hours. Out-of-state sessions sessions run from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm, we’ll stick around after 2:30 to answer questions. On-campus sessions run for the full day, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. You will not be able to register for classes if you do not attend the entire session. You must arrive at the beginning of the session so you can be checked-in, if you miss check-in you will have to attend another session, otherwise holds will not be removed to allow for course registration access.

Do I need to bring anything?

Yes! Bring a government-issued ID so you can get your PSU ID. We strongly suggest that you  bring a laptop or tablet for course registration (smartphones are not recommended for registration). You should also bring a rain jacket just in case (it is Portland, after all), and plenty of excitement about the upcoming academic year!

Does it cost anything?

Incoming students attending on-campus sessions do not pay fee to attend Orientation, however, there is a small fee for each guest attending a freshman session. This can be paid in advance or upon arrival at the session. However, incoming students and guests attending out-of-state sessions in Hawaii and California are both required to pay a fee. There fee helps cover the cost of the meal and materials provided throughout the session.

Can I bring someone with me to Orientation, like a parent or guardian?

Of course! While not required, you may certainly bring a guest or two. Beginning this new chapter in your life is exciting and we want you to share that experience. We ask that incoming students limit their guests to two. We look forward to welcoming you AND your family to the Viking family!

Will I register for classes at Orientation?

Yes! This is why attending Orientation is required. You will be meeting with professional advisors in your academic area of interest that will give you specific direction for the courses you should take. You will walk away from Orientation with a completed fall term schedule!

Will I get to tour the dorms?

Yes. We offer optional housing tours at all of our on-campus sessions. Tour times will be on the agenda you receive at check-in.

Will I get to tour campus?

Absolutely! We offer campus tours to our incoming students  and guests of new students at the freshman sessions. PSU is about to be your new home and we want you get a feel for the campus!

I’m worried because I don’t know anyone else. Am I going to meet anyone?

It’s Orientation. No one knows anyone else yet! You’ll be meeting other students starting in fall term and you’ll spend a good amount of time with others who are sharing the same major as you. This is a good chance to chat and meet with people you’ll be seeing again in September on campus!

What if I can’t attend any of the offered Orientation sessions?

Contact orientation@pdx.edu as soon as possible to make arrangements.

Who should I contact if my question hasn’t been answered here?

If you have any remaining questions after this list, get in touch with us at orientation@pdx.edu. Keep an eye out for Orientation emails that are being sent to your PSU email account. Many of the details that you’ll need will be sent to you closer to your actual orientation date.


More Information and Orientation Sign Up

International  Student Orientation Info and Sign Up

Ready to Transfer to PSU? Attend a Transfer Workshop

Ready to transfer to PSU? Meet Admissions Counselors and Academic Advisers during Transfer Workshops at local community colleges.

Learn More About PSUAttend a presentation about transferring to PSU:

  • Apply during the Transfer Workshop and defer your $50 PSU admission fee
  • Speak with an academic adviser. All popular majors will be represented!
  • Ask financial aid and scholarship questions
  • Learn how your credits will transfer to PSU
  • Gather information about on-campus housing options

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