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The car-free family: Getting to the beach on the Amtrak bus

Walking_beach As you may have read (or heard on KBOO), my family has given up our car, preferring to ride the TriMet bus, walk, or bike with the kids. We love how connected we are to the community, we love that we save money on gas & insurance & maintenance, we love that we're being good to the earth! But it's really hard to, say, go to the beach. Or come back from the beach during Hood-to-Coast -- Jonathan and I were both delivered at the finish line by our respective vans, and the boys were delivered by their grandma. Umm... now what?

Martin and Larissa were in the same boat, more or less, as their family car went kaput. So we all put our Google fingers to work and discovered the Amtrak bus. (Yes! Amtrak has a bus!) Every evening, the bus leaves Union Station in downtown Portland at 6:20 p.m. and travels down Hwy 26, arriving in Astoria at 8:50 p.m., including stops in Cannon Beach, Seaside, and Astoria. You can request stops at Elsie, Manning, Necanicum Junction, Gearhart, and Warrenton, as well. The bus turns around the next morning, leaving Astoria at 8:30 a.m. and arriving in Portland's Union Station at 11:00 a.m.

We picked the bus up at 9 a.m. at Del's Chevron in Seaside, quickly loaded our two families' considerable gear, and took our comfy seats aboard the bus. Though the legroom wasn't amazing and the other passengers didn't seem entirely pleased when I had to pry a screaming Truman's hands off the steering wheel, the boys soon quieted down and we enjoyed a lovely ride back to Portland -- arriving on time! -- and then hopped the #17 bus home. A one-way ticket for an adult is $16, while children ages 2-16 are $8. Other bus lines go all over Oregon, from Salem to Corvallis to Bend to Newport. If you, too, are car-free by choice or by necessity, it's a good option for travelling with your family. Best of all, children under two are free and, on this trip at least, there was plenty of room to seat them beside us. I'd love to hear other stories about getting outside of the metropolitan area without a car!


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by the way -- if you *are* a car-free family in Portland, I've been chatting with a reporter from the Oregonian who's doing a story on how we all cope! If you're interested in weighing in, shoot me an email at mama [at] cafemama.com and I'll pass along your info.

Your family rocks.

We went car-free last fall and haven't looked back. Our 6 and 3 years old adapted quickly and it's amazing how it's relieved a myriad of stresses from our lives.

If we plan on heading out of town, we generally just rent a car, but it's great to hear about the Amtrak bus, thanks for the tip.

My daughter and I did the Greyhound to the Coast. I would say that was not-so-fun cause you go via Kelso when you transfer to the jitney bus.

We were car-free in the Bay Area where it's much easier to do than here. Good luck in your new car-free life.

There's also the Tillamook County bus that leaves from downtown and west side of Portland to Tillamook. 2 trips each way Mon-Sat, one each way on Sundays. I've never taken it, but I've been tempted!


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