The Cheapest / Easiest / Most Convenient Ways to Get to PDX

Dec 20, 2018

Unlike most cities, we don’t dread going to our airport. The legit food options, reasonable prices and pleasant atmosphere make a big difference, but it also helps that PDX is not a painful haul to get to.

Nearly the entire region is within an hour drive of the airport and many of us live within 30 minutes. Better yet, transit offers an easy one-seat ride from downtown Portland (and beyond) right to the main airport building. Compared to many cities, we have it good.

Still, you have a variety of options for getting to and from our airport. Here are the pros and cons of each and what you can expect to pay.

Best Bets

TRANSIT

The cheapest option by far is quite convenient for many

MAX Red Line offers a one-seat ride to the airport all the way to Beaverton. It’s only 40 minutes from Pioneer Square and all but two of our Frequent Service bus lines (lines where buses arrive every 15 minutes or better most of the day, every day) connect with MAX Red Line.

Trains depart outside of baggage claim every 15 minutes from just before 6 a.m. through about 10 p.m. The first train of the day leaves PDX at 4:56 a.m. and the last departs at 1:41 a.m. (headways may be longer before 6 a.m. and after 10 p.m.).

Departing early or late? When MAX Red Line isn’t running, the PDX Night Bus (Line 272) is; it departs and arrives at PDX every hour.

FYI: Leaving your car in a Park & Ride and taking MAX to the airport is not an option — you can only leave your car at a Park and Ride for up to 24 hours.

Transit will cost $2.50 each way, which is less than the airport surcharge that will be added on top of your Uber or Lyft fare.

UBER / LYFT

Convenient and usually less expensive than driving

There’s a reason why Uber and Lyft have exploded in popularity for airport trips.

That’s not to say they’re cheap — every ride to or from Portland International Airport comes with a $3 surcharge on top of your normal fare. And depending on how far from PDX you live, your fare could be sizable.

Fighting through the rideshare scrum to find your ride as you depart the airport can be a stressful and frustrating experience. But compared to the other options, this is the most convenient and comfortable way to and from the airport.

DRIVING

Expensive but (mostly) convenient

If you have a car, driving to PDX can be a convenient but potentially pricey option.

You have four parking options at PDX, ranging from $12/day up to $35/day:

The Economy lot ($12/day) is the cheapest, but naturally it’s farthest from the concourses. It’s located between Cascade Station and Marine Drive. Shuttle buses run from the lot to the terminal every 7-9 minutes from 4 a.m. to midnight, and every 15 minutes from midnight to 4 a.m.

The Long-Term garage is covered and is located adjacent to the main airport building. It’s the eastern-most garage you’ll see at PDX, and is located immediately behind the air traffic control tower. It costs $24/day.

Short-Term parking is the first garage you see when you walk out of baggage claim (it’s also where the car rental companies operate out of). It’s $27/day.

Feeling fancy (or just don’t want to deal with parking lots)? Valet parking is $35/day. Drop off is on the outer lane of the departure level.

More info about parking options at PDX.

Solid Options

TAXIS

You can catch a taxi from the center island of the roadway outside of departures. Radio Cab will charge you $33.50 to any Downtown location with their coupon.

PRIVATE SHUTTLE

Blue Star (sadly not the makers of delicious donuts) has a regularly scheduled Downtown Express between PDX, Lloyd Center and downtown Portland. It runs every 30 minutes and costs $14 one way ($24 round trip). See schedules and stops.

PRIVATE PARKING LOTS

There are several private parking lots near the airport that offer shuttle services. They offer prices comparable to PDX’s Economy lot.

AirPark
Park N Fly
Thrifty

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

Marketing Communications Coordinator

I loves cities, baseball, politics, travel, history, and tiki drinks. When I'm not in front of my computer, I can usually be found somewhere in the Gorge.

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