In Two Weeks, Some Portland Buses Will Run 24 Hours a Day—Including a Line to the Airport

“Why don’t buses run all night?” is one of the first questions newcomers ask in Portland. Soon, a few buses will.

Hallelujah: Portland is getting 24-hour bus service for the first time in 32 years.

For those three decades, bartenders, night owls and anybody with a red-eye flight at Portland International Airport built their schedules around a frustrating fact: From roughly 1:30 am to 4:30 am, all public transit in the city shuts down.

But starting Sept. 2, regional transit agency TriMet will start running two bus lines 24 hours a day, and begin a "night bus" that will run to the airport during the wee hours when MAX Red Line trains aren't in service.

As KXL 101.1 FM news radio first reported Friday, the two lucky bus lines are Line 20 and Line 57—both east-west routes.

"Combined, the bus lines span more than 45 miles between Forest Grove and Gresham," TriMet says in a statement. "We're also making adjustments to keep the buses running on schedule and improve transfers between the two lines."

The "night bus" will run on the newly formed Line 272. Commuters will be able to catch that bus north from the Line 20 bus, which runs along East Burnside Street.

TriMet says it will also run the MAX Red Line to and from the airport later into the night. WW will report more details of those schedules when they are released.

"Why don't buses run all night?" is one of the first questions newcomers ask in Portland. In 2015, our own Dr. Know pondered the question.

"There was actually a thing called Owl Service for a while," Dr. Know wrote, "with hourly service all night on a limited number of routes, but it ended in 1986—kind of a waste considering that drunken driving was barely even illegal then."

Here's a full rundown of the all-night buses and other expansions TriMet will debut next month.