The Plan for This Fall’s Hillsboro MAX Improvements

Our next MAX improvement project kicks off today in Hillsboro, where we’re replacing worn-out rails and tackling other important projects that will give you a smoother ride and fewer delays.

The entire project will take seven weeks to complete. Thanks to careful planning and a lot of prep work over the past year, we’ll only need to disrupt MAX service between Hatfield Government Center Station and Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport for two weeks in October.

During this time — from Saturday, October 13, through Saturday, October 27 — MAX Blue Line will be replaced by shuttle buses between those stations. We’re closing MAX Blue Line all the way to Fair Complex because that’s the next place on the line where trains can switch between the two tracks, which is an important safety requirement.

This project will focus on a nearly two block long stretch of the MAX Blue Line starting at SW Adams Avenue and E Main Street and heading east on SW Washington Street to S 1st Avenue. The rails in this stretch have undergone a lot of wear and stress since the Blue Line opened in 1998 and are at the end of their lifespan.

Despite being made of hard steel, trains wear rails down over time. This wear is more pronounced on tight bends, like the one between Washington and Adams. Ever hear trains squealing as they round a bend? That’s the sound of a train scraping against the rails, wearing them down.

If you were to look at a cross section of a rail, you’d see it’s “Ι” shaped. Over time the weight of trains wears down the top of the rails and bends them out of shape. Running trains over worn rails results in a rough, bouncy ride. If not corrected, running trains over worn rails can lead to an even-faster rate of wear and — eventually — a broken rail.  

We can grind the rails back into shape, but after enough wear, there isn’t anything left to grind and the rails need to be replaced. That’s where we’re at now. Twenty to twenty-five years might not seem like a long lifetime, but it’s typical for how much we use our rails.

The rails on this section of the Blue Line run down the middle of a street and are embedded in concrete. This means we have to rip up the entire track bed to get them out. While this is a lot of work, it also gives us the opportunity to do some other important work that will help improve the reliability of the entire Blue Line.

Switch and rails near Hatfield Station

We’re going to replace five switches — the machines that control which track trains can run on. These five switches are also nearing the end of the lifespans. Switches are sensitive to snow and cold weather, so four of them currently have heating elements to help keep them warm when temperatures drop. When we swap out these switches, we’ll install newer versions for all that have more-reliable heating technology. This will help us avoid issues no matter what the weather.

We’ll also be doing some important electrical work. The wires that power the signals can wear out, so we’ll be testing those and replacing them where necessary. In addition, one of the cables that provides electricity to the overhead wires that powers MAX needs to be replaced. This should help reduce the possibility of delays on MAX Blue Line.

We’re going to give the four closed MAX stations — Hatfield Government Center, HIllsboro Central, Tuality Hospital/SE 8th Ave and Washington/SE 12th Ave — a thorough cleaning and we’ll perform any necessary maintenance. After more than 20 years of heavy use, they could use a little TLC.

We’re also going to replace the tactile pavers — those bumps on the ground that warn you that you’re at the edge of the boarding platform. The current pavers are secured with grout, which has not held up well in our wet environment. They’ll be replaced by more reliable modular system that will last longer and require far less maintenance.

Finally, we’ll be laying some groundwork for future projects that will help us avoid another disruption.

Crossover approaching Hatfield Station

When we put the rails back in, we’re going to anchor them to the concrete in a way that’s more durable and faster to install, in order to minimize the time MAX Blue Line is disrupted.

At times, this work will be loud. This will especially be true the first three days of the project when we’re ripping out the old rails. Later, there will be noise from generators when we’re welding the new rails together.

There will be some road and sidewalk closures during this project. For the duration of the project, Washington will be closed for eastbound car traffic from Adams to 1st. During the two week disruption — October 13 to October 27 — both directions of Washington will be closed to cars from Adams to 1st.  Additionally, the sidewalk on the north side of Washington will be closed the entire project.

We’ll be working long hours to wrap up this work quickly so we can get trains running again. During the disruption, we’ll be on-site from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. But the end result — a safe, reliable and comfortable ride for the next 20+ years — will be worth it.

Get the details on the shuttle bus service that will replace MAX Blue Line between Hatfield Government Center and Fair Complex.

Dave Sauter

Dave Sauter

I’m a Project Manager for TriMet’s Capital Projects & Construction Division, working on track improvements on the MAX system along with other projects. I regularly ride public transportation — the Line 96 bus and the MAX Blue and Orange lines — so I personally know the value of transit that’s reliable and enjoyable. I was born and raised in Portland. My wife and I and our five kids frequently visit my parents who still live in the house where I grew up.”

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Buses to the Rescue

If you need buses, and you need buses fast, Alex Ubiadas is who you call.

Whether you need to quickly evacuate a large number of people, like during 2017’s Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia Gorge, or you need a space to warm up first responders during a winter emergency, TriMet’s Emergency Manager is the person who can make it happen.

“We’re the only people in the area who can move lots of people in a short period of time,” says Alex, “This is not our primary mission, but as a taxpayer-funded public agency, we believe this an important role for us to play in our community.”

When something bad happens, people across the region know to contact Alex directly. If it’s a valid public emergency, and there are extra buses and operators available, he’ll coordinate with TriMet’s Operations Command Center to make sure the buses get where they need to go.

A common misconception is that the buses and operators being used for emergencies are being pulled off their regular runs, with TriMet’s service suffering as a result. “We always have extra buses and operators standing by in case of any issues, like if we need to replace MAX with shuttle buses, or a bus breaks down, or an operator calls in sick,” explains Alex. “As a last resort, we’ll pull some buses off Frequent Service lines to replace MAX during lengthy disruptions. But we only use our spare buses and drivers for responding to emergencies.”

Water and other supplies for Eagle Creek Fire evacuees

2017’s Eagle Creek Fire was one of the largest — and farthest flung — emergency operations Alex has helped coordinate. As the fire raced through the Gorge, thousands of residents needed to be evacuated. Even though the evacuation zones extended far beyond TriMet’s service area, several buses were sent to help shuttle people to shelters and to bring water and other supplies to the evacuees. “Because the fire moved so quickly, we only had a couple hours heads-up on that request. With the amount of people we transported and the distance from Portland, it was our largest emergency operation in recent memory.”

TriMet has also recently provided buses that helped evacuate people during the 2018 junkyard fire off NE Killingsworth Street. And in 2016, TriMet buses took children from their school near the NW 23rd Avenue gas explosion to a safe location where their parents could pick them up.

Beyond evacuations, TriMet will provide buses to help police departments with transportation when a large number of people have been arrested, such as during a riot. Alex will also help arrange for warming or cooling buses. “If there is a fire during the winter months, we’ll often provide a bus for firefighters to rest and warm themselves. Likewise, in extreme heat, we can provide buses to help cool first responders or other people. A few years ago there was a large outdoor festival that had a lot of people from vulnerable populations attending. The county director of emergency management asked if we could provide a bus to help cool people who were showing signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.”

One thing Alex has yet to provide buses for — but is prepared for — is an earthquake. “We have plans to provide assistance for major emergencies, such as an earthquake. The Portland Transportation Recovery Plan provides for TriMet to use buses to potentially move people but also supplies to distribution points within the city,” says Alex.

“I love that we’re able to do this,” continues Alex. “It’s just the right thing to do.”

As part of National Preparedness Month, Alex encourages everybody to visit ready.gov to learn how they can prepare for a disaster.

Header photo courtesy KPAM News Talk 860 & Afternoon Northwest

 

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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DALeast’s New Orange Line Mural

If you’re heading east across the Rhine–Lafayette pedestrian bridge in industrial Southeast Portland, keep an eye out for a large bird.

Or, more accurately, a hawk-like space-travel bio-vehicle.

That’s what celebrated artist DALeast suggests is at the center of his latest work, a stunning mural on the side of our new maintenance building on SE 20th Avenue.

Against a midnight background, electric blue streaks of spray paint suggest an avian form. To the right, we see a magnificent burst of white light; to the left, perhaps a red dwarf star.

The mural feels at once peaceful and alive, simple and expansive. As for what it means, DALeast would much rather let you draw your own conclusion.

The spectacular piece is the final public art project associated with the nearby Orange Line, which runs right through the site of our previous facilities maintenance building.

The new 10,000-square-foot facility is currently being renovated to include new workspaces, a media-enabled training room and more. So it’s fitting that on the outside, the blank expanse of wall facing 20th Avenue got a makeover, too.

We’re thrilled with the new mural, and for the chance to breathe life into a formerly nondescript industrial site.

Want more public art news from us? Sign up for Riders Club!

Brian Lum

Brian Lum

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to help tell our story, and to share the interesting things I find along the way. When I'm not here, you'll find me out riding my bike and taking pictures.

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What You Want In The Next Generation Of MAX Trains

In a few years, we’ll be sending our high-floor MAX trains — which have been rolling since MAX first opened in 1986 —  off into the sunset. We’ll miss our Type 1’s (you never forget your first love…), but we’re excited about their replacements, the Type 6’s. Evidently, so are you.

Earlier this year, we asked what features you wanted to see in our next generation of MAX cars. Your requests were diverse and interesting, and we noticed some common themes. While we can’t yet make any promises about what our new trains will include, your suggestions are being used to guide our planning.

Here are your most common requests:

More and better interior displays

We’re on board with you here — clear interior displays that tell you where you are and where you’re going are essential. For our Type 6 trains, we’re asking for an upgrade from our current LED displays to dynamic route maps and next-stop displays. Our hope is for high-definition displays that can show graphics.

Comfortable seating and easy-to-navigate layouts

Your feedback on the open layout of the Type 5 trains — which were introduced in 2015 with the Orange Line — has been very positive, so the Type 6 trains will likely be similar. Regardless, we’re going to explore seat cushioning and layout options, so we can give you the most comfortable ride possible.

A safe ride

This is as non-negotiable for us as it is for you. For our Type 6 trains, we’re looking to add a silent alarm you can use to notify operators of security issues, higher definition on-board cameras for the recording as well as live streaming of security footage, and higher quality rear monitors so operators to have a clear image of what’s happening around the train during boarding.

There were several other common requests that we’ll be looking into, including WiFi, charging stations and USB ports, more leg room, easier boarding and exiting with wider doors and faster ramps, and more and better bike storage. Again, we make no promises but we’re looking at which requests we can accommodate.

So when you can expect these new train cars? Soon, but not too soon. You cannot go to the train store and pick out new cars to drive home (we wish…). These cars will be custom designed and built. We’re going to be looking for a manufacturer for these cars starting this year. Then the actual car design will kick off next year and manufacturing will start in 2020. If everything goes well, we hope to have the first new cars rolling in Portland by late 2021 or 2022. Stay tuned.

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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E-Scooters Have Arrived. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Let’s cut right to the chase: Electric scooters are fun.

They’re a lot of other things, too, depending on whom you ask. Controversial, convenient, frivolous, potentially dangerous — it felt like we’d heard it all before the first scooter hit the streets in Portland.

Now that they’re here (Bird was the first out of the gates, deploying over 100 scooters overnight), you can see for yourself.

If you haven’t ridden one before, we’d suggest finding a quiet street to get your bearings. They’re surprisingly zippy, and there’s a bit of balancing involved. Once you’re comfortable, you just kind of…go. It’s fun, and you might feel a little silly, but you’ll probably also be smiling.

Once you leave the quiet streets for busier bikeways, and then later when you start looking for a place to park your scooter, you’ll appreciate knowing these ground rules:

  • Ride in the street or in the bike lane, not on the sidewalk.
  • Helmets are required. These things are quick, and it will make sense once you start riding.
  • Park your scooter by the curb, away from the sidewalk. Don’t park right at your bus stop or on the MAX platform.
  • Scooters can’t go on buses or trains, including the bike racks. The idea is that scooters work best for connecting with transit.
  • If you have a question or complaint, contact the scooter company (their info will be on the scooter) or PBOT.
Don’t park here.

We hope this pilot program goes well — after all, we support all kinds of active transportation. It will almost certainly require cooperation and patience, but that’s not such a bad thing, is it?

Brian Lum

Brian Lum

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to help tell our story, and to share the interesting things I find along the way. When I'm not here, you'll find me out riding my bike and taking pictures.

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Now Available: Reduced Fares for Low-Income Riders

If you have trouble affording your TriMet fare, relief may be available.

Oregon residents who are 18 to 64 years old and have an income less than twice the federal poverty level can apply to ride for a lower fare. If approved, you will save 50% off a single ride or day pass, or 72% off a month pass.

Application is a three-step process. You’ll need to…

  1. Show that your income qualifies
  2. Apply in-person at one of our community partner locations
  3. Pick up your personalized Hop card from the TriMet Ticket Office at Pioneer Square

We’ll walk you through each step. Find out if you’re eligible and apply today.

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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Avoid Interstate Construction Traffic This Summer

Hearing the phrase “a good time to plan a vacation” about upcoming roadwork does not exactly inspire confidence in a smooth commute. But that is what’s being said about this summer’s I-84 and I-5 construction.

The projects, which run from July 8th through August 27th (with a brief early August break), will close three of the ramps that connect I-5 to I-84. Major traffic delays are expected for the length of the projects.

For many, MAX is going to be the best option for your commute. It may be crowded, but you won’t get bogged down in traffic. MAX Yellow Line is an alternative for I-5 in North Portland and the Blue, Green and Red lines can help you avoid I-84 (and parts of I-205).

Want to find the fastest way to work on TriMet? Plan your trip.

If don’t live near a MAX station, we have dozens of Park & Ride locations that provide free and easy parking near MAX stations.

Yellow Line riders have access to over 600 free parking spaces between the Expo Center and Delta Park/Vanport Park & Rides. Additionally, the Expo Center is allowing use of any other open spaces in its lot between July 8-20, July 25-August 6 and August 17-27, but a fee will apply for those.  

Red Line riders looking to avoid I-205 and I-84 have access to nearly 200 spaces at the Parkrose/Sumner Transit Center Park & Ride.

Blue Line riders have access to over 2,000 spaces at five Park & Rides between Cleveland Ave and Gateway Transit Center.

Similarly, Green Line riders have access to over 2,300 spaces at five Park & Rides between Clackamas Town Center and Gateway

Red, Blue and Green Line riders can also use the Gateway Transit Center Park & Ride’s nearly 700 spaces.

Many Park & Rides fill by 7-7:30 a.m. on a normal weekday, so we recommend arriving early.

See our full list of Park & Ride locations.

Buses will also provide a way through traffic during the roadwork. While they still may experience some delays, we’ve taken action to help keep them moving.

We’re anticipating significant delays approaching the Burnside Bridge during the ramp closure beginning July 25, so we’ve worked with the City of Portland to turn NE Davis between SE Sandy and SE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd into bus and local access only on July 26-27, July 30-31, August 1-3, and August 20-24 from 6-11 a.m.. This should help keep Line 12, 19 and 20 buses moving.

Also during the ramp closures that start on July 25th, we’ve worked to restrict parking for additional hours on SE Morrison between SE 12th and SE 6th Ave and SE Madison between SE 10th and SE 6th. This will allow our buses to use the BUS ONLY lanes for longer as they approach the Morrison and Hawthorne bridges.

We will also have additional buses waiting at transit centers that can be pulled into service in case buses start to fill and go into “Drop Off Only” during the ramp closures.

Throughout the summer, C-TRAN’s express service between Vancouver and Downtown Portland is a viable alternative to MAX Yellow Line. C-TRAN is anticipating delays due to the expect congestion. Visit c-tran.com for more.

No matter how you plan on commuting this summer, transit will likely be a better option than driving for many who will be impacted by the I-5 / I-84 construction work. Here are helpful links for your commute:

Want to find the fastest way to work on TriMet? Plan your trip.

Worried about potential delays? Check out service alerts for your line.

New to TriMet? Here’s all you need to know to pay your fare and ride.

 

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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Starting July 1: A Fairer Citation Process

A court record can affect your ability to get a job, rent a house or serve in the military. But until now, a TriMet fare evasion citation had to be resolved within the court system, in most cases leading to a court record. We didn’t think that was right – skipping fare is not a crime that should have life-long consequences – and we’ve done something about it.

Starting July 1, a new law gives us a 90-day window to resolve some citations directly with riders. If you are an adult and receive a citation only for fare evasion, you will now have the option to resolve the citation outside of the court system by paying a fine, performing community service or enrolling in a reduced fare program. If the citation was given in error, you can provide us with evidence and we’ll dismiss the citation.

Eligible citations will come in an envelope with instructions for settling your citation online or by phone.

If you don’t resolve your citation with TriMet within the 90-day window, your only option will be to resolve it in court, where the presumptive fine will be $175 and the maximum fine $250.

Here are your new options for resolving an eligible citation with TriMet:

Appeal your citation

If you can demonstrate you had the correct fare, you can request a written appeal online within 45 days of receiving your citation. If the citation is not dismissed, you’ll still have the option to resolve it with TriMet by paying a reduced fine, performing community service, or enrolling in a reduced fare program.

Pay a fine

You can pay your fine — and possibly a reduced fine — online, via check, or over the phone within 90 days from when your citation was issued:

1st offense: $75
2nd offense: $100
3rd offense: $150
4th offense and beyond: $175

Perform community service

Instead of paying a fine, you can perform community service at the Oregon Food Bank, Rebuilding Center, Free Geek or Oregon Humane Society within 90 days from when your citation was issued:

1st offense: 4 hours
2nd offense: 7 hours
3rd offense: 12 hours
4th offense and beyond: 15 hours

Enroll in a reduced fare program

If you qualify — either though income, age or disability — for our Honored Citizen fare and successfully sign up and load $10 on your personalized Honored Citizen Hop card within 90 days, your fine will be waived upon verification by TriMet.

Specific instructions will be provided with your citation. Not all citations are eligible for this program. 

Please note that penalties or this process could change over time and this page may not contain the most up-to-date information. Please read the instructions that come with your citation for the current penalties and process.   

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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Hot Off the Press: The High Heat Cheat Sheet

Over the past few years, we’ve been working on ways to keep MAX moving in hot weather.

In 2016, we installed anchors along a segment of Red Line track to keep the rails — which expand in the heat — in place. And to combat the issue of sagging overhead wires, we recently made adjustments to the counterweights along parts of the Blue and Red lines to give them more room to move.

Now trains can operate with fewer speed restrictions as temperatures reach triple digits. To help you know what to expect in hot weather, we updated the High Heat Cheat Sheet:

Stay cool!

Brian Lum

Brian Lum

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to help tell our story, and to share the interesting things I find along the way. When I'm not here, you'll find me out riding my bike and taking pictures.

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Rolling Out Soon: Our Largest-Ever Bus Service Expansion

Our largest-ever expansion of bus service is officially a “go” with the approval of our Fiscal Year 2019 budget last week.

Thirteen lines will soon have more frequent buses or will run for more hours. We’ll also be bringing back 24-hour service to two lines, the first time we’ve offered all-night service since 1986! Most of these improvements will roll out this September with the remainder coming in March 2019.

Here’s the increased bus service you’ll soon see:

  • Lines 61, 64, 66 and 68 — all of which serve OHSU and Marquam Hill — will have expanded hours of operation.
  • Line 81-Kane Rd/257th will have more than 20 additional weekday buses.
  • Line 24-Fremont will be extended across the Fremont Bridge.
  • A new all-night bus — Line 272 — will go to Portland International Airport.
  • Line 4-Division/Fessenden — one of our longest and most popular routes — will be split into two lines to help keep buses on time.
  • Line 20-Burnside/Stark and Line 57-TV Hwy/Forest Grove will run 24 hours a day.
  • Line 73-122nd Ave will have increased weekday service with buses arriving every 15 minutes most of the day.
  • Line 96-Tualatin/I-5 will have more service with 25 new mid-day buses between Tualatin and Portland.

We’re also moving forward with important safety and security upgrades, a low-income fare, buying new buses (including five new battery-electric buses) and continued work on the Division Transit and Southwest Corridor projects.

Read more about what our Fiscal Year 2019 budget includes.

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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