Travel from the airport

Portland airport (airport code PDX) is situated to the North-East of Portland, about 10 miles from the main downtown area. There are three major options to get from the airport to downtown.

MAX Light Rail Unless you plan to rent a car, the MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) light rail is probably the best way to get from the airport to the downtown area. After arriving at the airport, go downstairs, which you may need to do for baggage claim anyway, and then follow the signs to the MAX at the far end of the terminal building, towards the right as you stand in the terminal looking out. You need to buy an all-zone ticket (costing a few dollars, less for seniors or students) from one of the machines on the platform before boarding the train (the machines accept coins, bills and many credit/debit cards). You usually don't need to do anything with the ticket, but occasionally there will be fare inspectors checking up on riders. The airport is at the end of the Red Line, so all trains go to downtown Portland and there is no chance of making a mistake. Although there may be two trains on opposite sides of the platform, they both go in the same direction and there should be an indication of which one leaves first. You can find a map of the MAX lines here (the airport is at the top right and the conference venue in the block in the middle). For most of the day, trains leave every 15 minutes and will get you to downtown Portland in about 40 minutes, but if you are arriving at unsocial hours, you may want to consult the MAX red line schedules. If you are staying at the Benson, the conference hotel, or want to go straight to the conference, you will want to get off at the Pioneer Square North station. The train stops here with Pioneer Square itself to the left, and the head of the train just short of the cross-street Broadway. After you get off, cross the road and go North along Broadway, i.e. turn right relative to the train. The Benson Hotel is 4 blocks along on the left at 309 SW Broadway.

You may prefer a taxi if you arrive after about midnight (the MAX stops running between about midnight and 5am), have a lot of luggage or have a very tight schedule. Given light traffic, taxis can be significantly faster than the MAX, getting to downtown in about 20 minutes. However, traffic congestion can make them much slower in the worst case, and in any case they are far more expensive, typically around $40. Taxis are available at all hours just outside the terminal building. After going downstairs to the area near baggage claim, as you emerge from the front of the building, you will see the parking garage opposite. Taxis leave from an area between the two buildings, which is well-signposted.

You can rent a car from most of the main car rental companies at the airport. You will leave the airport traveling along NE Airport Way. After a couple of miles you will reach a junction with the interstate highway I-205. You want to go South on I-205, signposted to Portland, Salem and I-84 (the wrong direction will take you North towards Seattle). After about 2 miles of I-205, take exit 21B onto I-84 West towards Portland. This will bring you directly into the city just to the East of the Willamette river. As you get into the main part of town on I-84, the road joins I-5, at which point it forks into two with the left lanes signposted South towards Salem and the right lanes signposted North towards Seattle. It is possible to get into downtown either way, but we recommend taking the South fork, the left lanes towards Beaverton/Salem. After taking the left fork, keep to the right lanes and quite soon you will see signs to the Morrison Bridge. Keep right at this point and follow the signs to Morrison Street and Morrison Bridge. This will cross the Willamette river and lead you onto Washington Street into the main downtown area to the West. Further directions will depend on where you are staying. If you want to go to the Benson, the conference hotel, continue West on Washington Street and go right at either 2nd Avenue or 4th Avenue (note that streets are 1-way and alternating, so you can't take odd-numbered avenues in this direction). Go two blocks and then turn left onto Oak Street. Drive a few blocks past 5th and 6th Avenues and turn left (this is another 1-way street) on Broadway (which would be 7th Avenue if it were numbered). The Benson is just past the intersection at the right.

Travel from the Amtrak train station

If you are arriving by Amtrak train (e.g. from Seattle to the North or San Francisco to the South), you will arrive at Union Station, at 800 NW 6th Avenue, which is already quite close to the Benson hotel. If you don't have much luggage, you might simply want to walk: turn left (South) as you come out of the station and walk down 6th Avenue for about 8 blocks. You will pass by cross-streets in decreasing alphabetical order: Irving, Hoyt, Glisan, Flanders, Everett, Davis, Couch, Burnside. The last is a larger street than the others. Cross it too and keep going down 6th Avenue, then after a block or two turn right (West) on Oak Street (if you miss it, Stark Street is also fine). You will then meet Broadway: the Benson Hotel is just to the left on the right side of the street.

If you don't want to walk, you can take a taxi from just outside the station (for such a short trip it should be quite inexpensive) or almost any of the Tri-Met buses that run down 5th Avenue, one block to the East of 6th. Buses are extremely frequent: you pay as you get on and pull the `stop request' just before you want to get off. You should pull this as soon as you cross the large Burnside Street, then turn right on Oak or Stark street as in the walking directions.


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