Victor Ornelas becomes first MAX operator to reach “Gold Grand Master” status

Gold Grand Master Operator Victor Ornelas

Gold Grand Master Operator Victor Ornelas

Victor Ornelas recently became the first MAX operator ever to be awarded the distinction of “Gold Grand Master” Operator. He is one of only four operators to achieve this status.

This honor is part of our Master Operator Program, which is designed to recognize bus and rail operators who achieve overall excellence in their duties as professional drivers. Victor has completed more than 58,800 superior driving hours.

This is no small accomplishment. To attain this milestone you would have to drive 6.7 years nonstop. He has 27closing in on 28years of safe driving with excellent attendance.

This award is truly an honor. I didn’t set a goal to become a Gold Grand Master, I just showed up every day and did the job the best I could.

Victor is a seasoned operator who has had some close calls. Ornelas recounted one moment that has stuck with him over the years. While stopped at the Lloyd Center/NE 11th Ave MAX Station, some kids were playing around on the platform as riders were boarding. After the doors closed, Victor prepared to pull out of the station. Transit-MallJust as he began to roll, a teen was pushed by friends between the MAX cars. Fortunately, Victor was alert to the potential hazard. He secured his train and saw that the young woman had fallen between the cars. His attention to his surroundings and driving skills likely saved her life.

Victor and his wife of 34 years, Marilyn, enjoy traveling and spending time together when he’s not working. He joined TriMet right after his service in the Air Force. He was stationed out of Fairchild in Spokane, Washington.

“I came to Portland and applied at TriMet and at the Post Office,” says Victor. “I went to both interviews and TriMet won the draw, thought I would give it a try. Just think, I could’ve been your postman!”

New benches installed along Line 75 (and more to come!)

ad-bench

Roughly 600 new benches are being installed.

If you ride the Line 75-Cesar Chavez/Lombard, you may have noticed a new place to relax and rest your legs while waiting for the bus.

Roughly 600 benches are being replaced as part of a program funded entirely by Lamar Advertising.

The new benches are more durable and easier to maintain, and they’re now bolted down to the sidewalk or concrete pad.

leaner bench

“Leaners” are installed in locations where traditional benches don’t fit.

About 10 percent of the new benches will be “leaners,” similar to the leaning rails found at MAX stations. They provide an alternative to standing in locations where benches will not safely fit.

The shallower leaner allows for installation in areas where sidewalks are not wide enough to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards and accommodate a traditional bench.

A local woman-owned business, Decorative Metal Services, Inc., out of Vancouver, is building the benches and leaners.

We’re currently installing benches in North Portland along the 4 and 44 bus lines. Line 77 will be next. Installation will continue through December 2014 around the metro area.

What do you think of the new benches and “leaners”? Let us know at comments@trimet.org.

Spring Break Staycation Guide

cherryblossomSpring is here! Save on major travel expenses like airline tickets, lodging, gas and meals by taking a spring break “staycation”. Pick up a 1-Day Pass (only $5 each) and let us take you out to explore these local attractions that are ideal for keeping money in your pocket.

Go old-school and become a tourist
See the city through a visitor’s eyes and do what they do. Visit the Portland Art Museum, OMSI, the Portland Japanese Garden or the Zoo. Maybe it’s trying Dim Sum in Chinatown or roller skating at Oaks Park. Always sure to please is the Portland Saturday Market, with arts and crafts in its open-air marketplace.

Spend a day at a park
There are no shortages of parks in Portland. Pack a picnic, blanket and chairs. Spread out and let the kids run around while you sit back and relax. Take TriMet to one of many trails and parks in the area.

Swim day
Sure, spring break in Portland often means dodging rain, but it doesn’t mean you can’t pretend you’re in Maui and enjoy a day at the pool. Find an indoor community pool and dive in.

Find what’s fresh at a farmers market
Head to your local farmers market for some fresh and colorful fruits and veggies. Get the kids in on the fun and have them choose what to buy for dinner!

Get lost
In places such as Powell’s Books or Forest Park, it’s easy to wander and get lost. Bring the kids, dog, friends or family for an outing you’re sure to enjoy.

Paradise-bound
If you are heading out of town for spring break, let us take you to PDX or Union Station.

Plan your trip
It’s easy to explore Portland on TriMet over spring break. Check out the many other destinations you can discover on buses, MAX Light Rail, WES Commuter Rail and Portland Streetcar.
Plan a trip today!

Pin it
Be sure to pin and save your favorite Places to Go on Pinterest.

 

Why I Ride: Jana G.

Want to be featured in our rider profile series? We’d love to hear from you. Submit your story for consideration through our handy questionnaire at trimet.org/stories.

Why I Ride - Jana

Where do you live?

Orenco

Why do you ride TriMet?

TriMet is amazing. My husband and I moved from Florida last January where we dealt with bad sprawl, terrible traffic, and NO public transportation. I have spent a lot of time on mass transit in other cities and TriMet has by far the nicest, most caring people working there.

I began commuting to work on the Blue Line from Orenco all the way to NE 82nd back in August after fighting the traffic for 6 months. It has been a literal life-changing experience! The time it takes is pretty much the same as driving – maybe a few extra minutes, but worth it. I can do whatever I want in the morning: read, catch up with personal emails, Facebook, or Twitter, or just relax.

My employer agreed to let me do an afternoon “working commute” meaning I spend the last hour of my workday actually working ON the train (using my personal mobile hotspot)!

I get an extra hour at home in the evenings with my husband now and we can get by with one car. My employer even offers a fantastic incentive for using public transit, and I feel great about doing my part for the environment. My husband and I use the MAX a lot on the weekends to go to downtown Portland or Hillsboro for dinner and drinks, or whatever else captures our interest. We love TriMet and the MAX!

Which modes do you use?

MAX and Streetcar. We drive but only when we have to.

What are your favorite things to do while riding TriMet?

Read, social networking, work.

My insight:

Occasionally people forget basic etiquette when listening to music. People should invest in better headphones! I find it crazy if I can hear your music from the other end of MAX car! But it’s really more amusing to me than an issue.

What do you think is the best thing about living in the Portland area?

How nice people are to each other.

Is there anything you’d like to share about yourself?

I love Dave Matthews Band and Twitter!

My quest to ride every single MAX car

Dan Delany and his son on board car 107 in TriMet's maintenance shop.

For the conclusion of Dan Delany’s quest to ride every MAX car, Dan and his son came to TriMet’s Ruby Junction maintenance facility, where the elusive car 107 was in for repairs.

My name is Dan Delany, and I have been on every MAX car.

Like many people, I commute on the MAX trains from outside the city to work in downtown Portland every day. After riding for a few months, I started noticing the car numbers and wondering if I had seen all of the cars. I looked on Wikipedia and learned that there are 127 MAX cars, which made riding all of them seem like an achievable goal.

Once that thought was in my head, at the beginning of August I set out to ride every car. My rules were simple: it only counted if I rode the car at least one stop. Just seeing a car didn’t count; I had to actually ride it. (I did make one exception to this rule at the very end.) Some of my co-workers started to play along too. Our office manager particularly enjoyed letting me know when she rode a car that I still needed to ride.

I never went out with the specific goal of riding MAX cars; I just kept track of cars that I rode when I was riding MAX as part of my routine.

I started posting on Twitter about my project, and @trimet occasionally responded to my tweets with encouraging responses. When I got down to around 10 cars left, I started to be very aware of the cars that I hadn’t yet been on. Car 320 proved to be my nemesis for a while. I kept on seeing it when I was out and about but didn’t get to ride it. I saw it when I was driving in my car. I saw it on other trains while I was riding MAX trains. Once I saw it when I was waiting for my lunch at a food truck downtown. 320 was even in the news after an accident in November.

When I got down to 5 cars remaining, I started putting the list of remaining cars into my tweets, and @trimet told me at one point that one of my remaining cars was in the shop. It was a small effort on their part, but I appreciate that they played along with my goofy little project.

I rode 320 on January 2, just a few weeks after @trimet let me know that it was still out there. 320 was a bit of an event for me. My MAX stop is out near the end of the Blue Line, and when I arrived at the station that morning, 320 was going by on a train headed away from downtown, towards the end of the line. I had some time that morning, so I waited for it to go to the end of the line and come back. It took less than an hour.

As it turned out, I didn’t need to do that. 320 was the car that took me home on Thursday, February 6, the day that Portland’s big snowstorm really kicked in.

I still hadn’t seen 107, but @trimet stepped up and helped me out. On February 14, my son and I went on a tour of the MAX repair facility at Ruby Junction, and we got to see and board car 107 in the shop. Sure, it wasn’t moving, but going on a shop tour made up for that in a big way.

Thank you TriMet for playing along with my project and giving my son and I a fun daddy-son adventure!

 

About the author: Dan Delany is an engineer at New Relic, a software company downtown.  He tries to drive his car as little as possible.

Forest Grove makes investments to improve bike access to transit

Forest Grove bike shelters at 19th and Pacific U

Covered bike parking keeps your bike dry during the rainy season while you hop on the bus or train to finish your trip. Pictured here is the sheltered bike parking near Pacific University on Line 57.

If you live, work, or study just a little too far away from the bus stop or train station to walk, biking to transit is a great option to consider. If there’s room, you can bring your bike with you on board, but often demand is high and bike parking comes to the rescue. Parking your bike at the stop or station allows you to complete the rest of your trip on transit hassle-free without always watching after or worrying about your bike.

Forest Grove bike shelters 19th and B

Covered bike parking at 19th Avenue and B Street

We are very happy to highlight the city of Forest Grove’s efforts in providing high quality covered bike parking at three locations along Line 57-TV Hwy/Forest Grove in Forest Grove.

Forest Grove applied for grant funding for these three bike parking installations through Metro’s Regional Travel Options (RTO) grant program. This program aims to increase the awareness of non-single occupancy vehicle travel options such as biking, walking, transit, ridesharing, telecommuting or working compressed work weeks.

To accomplish these goals, the RTO program provides strategic investments that contribute to economic, environmental and socio-economic health and prosperity for the region. Through this successful grant award, costs for the project were shared between Metro and the city of Forest Grove.

Covered bike parking at 19th Avenue and 19th Street

Covered bike parking at 19th Avenue and 19th Street

We love to see our regional partners making investments in improving access to transit, which helps us to build a better system and allows safe and convenient connections for riders.

 
   
 
 

Mid-day riders: More frequent buses are headed your way!

Frequent Service

Here’s some good news: Starting Monday, March 3, buses on 10 of our popular Frequent Service lines will come more frequently during the day. Thanks to an improving budget outlook, we are now able to add 15-minute service—which had been cut over the last few years due to the recession—during mid-day hours on weekdays.

Buses will arrive every 15 minutes during the day on the following lines:

  • 6-Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
  • 8-Jackson Park/NE 15th
  • 9-Powell Blvd
  • 12-Barbur/Sandy Blvd
  • 14-Hawthorne
  • 15-Belmont/NW 23rd
  • 33-McLoughlin
  • 54-Beaverton/Hillsdale Hwy/56-Scholls Ferry Rd
  • 57-TV Hwy/Forest Grove
  • 75-Cesar Chavez/Lombard

We’re also adding more buses on Line 4-Fessenden/Division during weekday evenings and all day on Saturdays.

This means less waiting, shorter travel times and better connections. Plus, when buses come more often, you have a bit more flexibility in your schedule (and a better chance of getting a seat). Many of our mid-day riders depend solely on transit to get around, so we know that better frequency makes a big difference.

This is just the first step toward restoring our Frequent Service network. It will probably take a year or two to get back to 15-minute service (or better) all day, every day—meaning evenings and weekends, too—but that’s our goal.

We’d love to hear how this change affects you. And as always, we welcome your comments and suggestions about your trips on TriMet. Thanks for riding, and we’ll see you on board!

Preview the new schedules effective March 3

WEIGH IN: Discuss this post on Facebook