Are there any 24-hour bus lines in Portland?

—Carlos C.

Your question is certainly a model of brevity, Carlos—I briefly considered replying with a simple "no" and calling it a day—but it leaves too much to the imagination. (I could also speculate about the sort of person who speaks in short, staccato bursts and really needs a bus ride at 3 am, but that would be uncharitable.)

What you're really asking is a question this column has been getting in various forms for years: Why is there no bus to take me home after I get kicked out of the bar at closing time?

I myself have spent several long, drunken walks thinking it would be nice if TriMet could do one final run on the more popular routes at, say, 2:45 am. After all, it would discourage drunken driving and help hard-working strippers and bartenders get home safely.

Of course, I've also spent several long, drunken walks thinking it would be nice if passing cops had to bring me nachos. In both cases, the authorities have found that nice things usually aren't cost-effective.

"Most lines end service before 1 am, so extending service two hours for very little ridership demand is not very efficient," says TriMet's Mary Fetsch. "Given the financial constraints we've had, it just hasn't been in the cards."

There was actually a thing called Owl Service for a while, 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.

But don't abandon hope: TriMet's Service Enhancement Plan has floated the idea of later service on some routes. Whether that happens, of course, will depend on which subset of citizens decide to get involved. It makes you wonder how different society might be if public comment hearings came with an open bar.