Spend a few minutes at the artfully remodeled Rose Quarter Transit Center and you may feel like you're in a major European city. You'll see commuters bustling to and from the three MAX lines and 14 bus routes that converge at North Holladay Street and Wheeler and Interstate Avenues. You'll see people chatting around the plaza-like setting before connections whisk them away to any point in the Portland area. You'll also see a fair amount of trash--and even that has a European connection.
In late May, TriMet removed 23 garbage cans from the 50,000-square-foot transit center on orders from federal officials concerned about a repeat of the March Madrid bombing. (Transit officials of most major U.S. cities have followed suit.)
According to TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch, the Rose Quarter TC is the only stop in town to fall under the directive from the Department of Homeland Security. Plans are in the works to replace the removed concrete-and-steel cans with clear plastic bins or bomb-resistant receptacles. Unfortunately, TriMet has yet to do either, and the litter is piling up at a rate maintenance officials estimate near 250 pounds per day.
This rising tide of rider-rubbish has contract crews running three separate sweeps a day in an attempt to keep up on what most people appear to be putting down.
According to Jon Barney, who works the counter at Rose Quarter concession stand Sharrif's, some people are angry enough over the lack of cans to toss their trash through Sharrif's window.