On Sunday, August 31, 1997 TriMet celebrated the debut of the new low-floor MAX trains at brand new Kings Hill Station. Yards away the Civic Stadium (now Jeld-Wen Field) MAX station also opened that day (The Oregonian, 1 September 1997).
Tri-Met introduced Portland to the nation’s first low-floor light-rail cars Sunday, putting smiles on the faces of riders, especially those who use wheelchairs.
The low-floor vehicles, costing $2.5 million each, eliminate the steps and mechanical lifts needed to board MAX’s high-floor cars. Within a year, every two-car train will have at least one low-floor car on the expanded rail system from Gresham to Hillsboro.
The first of the low-floor cars went into service Sunday, the same day Tri-Met opened two new stations on the line heading west of downtown.
“This really eliminates having to use wheelchair lifts and having to slow the system down,” said Bob Pike, sitting in a wheelchair on a low-floor car. “It enables someone in a wheelchair to get on the train in the same way everyone else does.”
MAX was the first light-rail system in North America to use the low-floor cars, which were manufactured in Sacramento. The Kings Hill and Civic Stadium stations debuted a year before the Westside MAX Blue Line opened.