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Stumptown Stumper

by: L.E. BASKOW, TriMet bus numbers (like the 17, which runs from Linnton through St. Johns, Northwest and downtown, then out Southeast Holgate Boulevard) may seem like a jumble, but when they were first organized they followed a clockwise pattern starting in North Portland.

Every Friday in Stumptown Stumper, the Portland Tribune offers a trivia question and answer that helps you boost your Rose City IQ.

Q: Is there any logic to the way TriMet numbers its buses?

A: There most certainly is, says Ken Zatarain, TriMet's director of transportation planning.

And it's simpler than you might think: The agency started numbering the system in the early 1970s at due north in the city, naming North Greeley Avenue as Route No. 1 and going clockwise around the city.

Numbers in the Northeast ran in the 20s, Southeast in the 30s, and those on the west side were generally in the 60s. The 70s went to the crosstown lines, and 80s and 90s were express lines.

For superstitious reasons, there is no No. 13. In all, the routes run up to No. 157 (Happy Valley), with a few dozen missing numbers in between.

So many routes have changed, shifted or combined over the years, the pattern may be barely discernible today. But they try to stay within the system.

A big change will occur in January when the No. 1 Greeley bus connects with the No. 35 bus along Southwest Macadam Avenue to Lake Oswego and Oregon City for a north-south connector route.

The new line will be called the No. 35 Greeley on its north leg and No. 35 Macadam on its south leg.

Greeley's current connection, the No. 1 Vermont in Southwest Portland, will get to stay No. 1. Hopefully, Zatarain said, the changes won't be that big of a deal.

Next week's Stumper: The popular sculpture at Southwest 10th Avenue and Burnside Street, across from Powell's City of Books, is a favorite of passers-by, who like to swing the giant pendulum. But the artist says the sculpture is a metaphor for something larger. What does it represent?

- Jennifer Anderson

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