January on Instagram: One of the Internet’s Most Famous Cats Checks In

Turns out a foot of snow overnight wasn’t the only remarkable thing we saw this month. Meet Albert Baby Cat (if you haven’t already), fashion icon, Instagram celebrity and finalist on America’s Next Cat Star. A couple weeks ago, Albert hopped in a BIKETOWN basket and hitched a ride to Tilikum Crossing, where he watched the trains go by.

Albert watching the train go by. 📷 Photo by: @catmapper

A photo posted by Munchkin cat (@albertbabycat) on

OK, now onto the snow. This was the fourth snow of the season, but it was unlike anything we’ve seen in years. If nothing else, it made for some great photos.

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Let it snow. #snowday #Portland #midnight

A photo posted by Michael Arellano (@michael_arellano) on

Icy no problem in going home early to stay warm and escape this storm. ❄️🚎🌧

A photo posted by Elizabeth Jones (@elizabethallynj) on

The unofficial Hop mascot for the month:

There were inspiring sights on the dry days, too. (Plus Darth Vader, because Portland.)

Sunrise over the morning commute.

A photo posted by Jeremy Jeziorski (@jeremyjeziorski) on

Rides.

A photo posted by Nate (@nfrazier) on

smooth is fast.

A photo posted by edwin vega. (@edwindva) on

Stepped on my bus tonight and met Darth Vader and his body guard. No biggie.

A photo posted by Jason Houser (@jasonhouser) on

We’ll see you in February — as always, tag @ridetrimet and #GoByTransit to share your ride!

Brian Lum

Brian Lum

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Specialist. 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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Instagram Roundup: December

As you could have guessed, we saw lots of snow this month. But before we get to that, take a look at what Portland indie rockers Helio Sequence shared at the beginning of the month:

This brought tears to my eyes. Larry on the left is the driver of the @ridetrimet Trimet Line 4 bus that I take to the studio. Every morning as people enter the bus he greets them with a genuine smile and “hello” and wishes every single person a good day on the way out. He chats with his “regulars” and strikes up conversations with new riders. I always love seeing Larry and talking with him and am amazed how he the consistently gives energy to those around him. His kindness and openness to all gives me perspective each day and what I saw from him today was really beautiful. This morning he stopped on Division at a bus stop that had not been requested. At first I was confused and I wondered what was going on when I saw him reach into his bag and take out his lunch. He stepped out of the bus and gave his food to a homeless man who was near the stop wishing him well and then hopped back in the driver seat and carried on. To see such an act of unprompted true kindness was really profound. Larry surely deserves the driver of the year award and beyond that I hope he knows the deep effect his simple but strong acts of kindness have on those around him. I learned yesterday that soon he’ll be switching to an earlier time schedule and I won’t see him in the mornings any longer. Larry…I’ll miss you…I hope we run into each other soon. Thank you for all that you give to everyone! #trimet #driveroftheyear #publictransit #kindness #thankyou #portland #lovewins

A photo posted by The Helio Sequence (@heliosequence) on

Awesome, right? We love seeing notes like that.

And now for the snow:

#unionstationportland #theportlandway #portlandnw #portlandoregon #portlandpdx #pnwonderland #northwestisbest #snow

A photo posted by Patrick M (@patrick_morgan_io) on

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Trees and Transit on this edition of “That’s So Portland”. #theonlyedition #Portland #downtownpdx #pioneersquare

A photo posted by Tuesday Blue (@wednesdaybytuesday) on

As always, tag @ridetrimet and #GoByTransit to share your ride!

Brian Lum

Brian Lum

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Specialist. 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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2016 Year in Review

It was a big and busy year for us.

That’s the simple explanation. Though we didn’t have a marquee event like last year’s Orange Line opening, we added a lot of service and made some significant improvements. We also dealt with weather (hot and cold), protests and planned disruptions that required some significant service adjustments and plenty of your patience. And in the end, 2016 left us with plenty to be happy about — let’s take a look at the numbers:

2 MAX Improvement Projects

Back in January, chief operating officer Doug Kelsey shared our plans for improving MAX on-time performance. Since then, we’ve completed two major projects along segments of the original, 30-year-old alignment. In May, we spent two weeks replacing track and switches along First Avenue in Downtown Portland. Four months later, we did similar work in the Rose Quarter.

3500 bus

77 New Buses Arrive

Our newest buses (the 3500 series) hit the streets in March. Once all 77 were delivered we were able to say that new-model buses comprise over half our active fleet.

Over the next few years we plan to add more than 175 new buses, starting in a few weeks when we begin rolling out the 3600 series. This process will bring the average age of our fleet to the industry standard of eight years and — more importantly — ensure your ride is more comfortable and reliable.

97 Becomes Our Newest Bus Line

The growing communities of Tualatin and Sherwood got their first direct transit connection in June. Line 97-Tualatin-Sherwood was our first new bus line in years, and though it’s just a commuter line now we plan to extend it to Bridgeport Village and downtown Tigard in the future.

And thanks to the increased employer payroll tax that took effect this year, this is just the beginning of more and better service. We’ve got plans for increasing, expanding and introducing bus service throughout the region over the next 10 years.

wordpress header

3 Operators Earn Top Honors

Justina Carrillo, a mini-run (part-time) bus operator; Jeffery Evans, a MAX operator; and Alex Ohly, a bus operator joined exclusive company this year when they were selected by their peers as TriMet’s Operators of the Year. The three combined represent nearly five decades of safe driving experience and multiple Superior Performance Awards, and we are truly grateful for their service.

2 Weeks of Protests in Downtown Portland

Running safe transit — an essential service to many — amidst demonstrations in the city center — a right protected by the Constitution, as long as it’s peaceful — isn’t easy to do. But with cooperation between different groups and the diligence of our operators and field staff, it became possible.

How We Roll bus

3 Hours in Pioneer Courthouse Square

We set up shop in Portland’s living room one afternoon this summer to debut our How We Roll bus, which features 16 rider portraits on its sides. (There’s a wrapped train, too!) While we were there we handed out goodies and took photos for the next time we wrap a bus or train.

12 Year Absence from the Sellwood Bridge Ends

For the first time in over a decade, TriMet service is using the Sellwood Bridge, as Line 99 began its new route this month. It was all possible because the old Sellwood Bridge, which had a weight limit that restricted heavy vehicles, was replaced earlier in the year.

1 Year of MAX Orange Line

Our newest light rail line, along with Tilikum Crossing, celebrated a year of service in September. The time seemed to fly but in retrospect, a lot happened — including 3.5 million rides on the Orange Line and 775,000 bike trips over the bridge.

30 Years of MAX

After a proposed eight-lane freeway was nixed in the mid-1970s, the pioneering decision was made to consider how transportation affects quality of life. This led to the creation of MAX, one of the first modern light-rail systems in the country. On Sept. 5, 1986 service debuted between Gresham and Portland.

Thirty years, four new lines and millions of trips later, we continue to move a growing region.

MAX in snow

2 Snow Storms…in Two Weeks

Plus one back in January. Orchestrating transit in snow and ice isn’t easy. It requires extraordinary vigilance and quick responses to constantly changing situations from our staff — especially operators and field staff working out in the freezing cold. It also takes a lot of preparedness and patience from our riders, and we appreciate the understanding we were shown amidst the inevitable frustration and exhaustion.

20 New Operators Hired Every Three Weeks

We’re hiring drivers at a serious pace because in order to give riders more service, we need more people. We sweetened the deal, too, and boosted starting pay for part-time operators from $11.21 to $14.25 per hour during training. Ever thought about driving with us?

Hop testing

225+ Employees Begin Testing Hop Fastpass

Our new fare card is almost here — you probably noticed the readers on your bus or at the MAX station. Earlier this year, a small group of employees from TriMet, C-TRAN and Portland Streetcar began testing the system, tapping Hop cards to board buses and trains and managing their accounts online.

The first public beta test begins soon, so be sure to sign up for email updates if you’re interested in participating.

OK — that’s enough for this year. Thanks for riding, and see you in 2017!

Brian Lum

Brian Lum

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Specialist. 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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How Transit Works in Snow and Ice

The National Weather Service recently confirmed what heavy rains have hinted at: La Niña is here.

Get ready for this.
Get ready for this.

Below-average temperatures and above-average rainfall — and perhaps snow and ice — have been observed in the Pacific Northwest this fall, and both could continue through the winter, according to NWS predictions.

What do you think when you hear this? Are you the type to buy a season pass to Mt. Hood Meadows, assured that the snowpack will stretch well into spring? Perhaps blankets and board games (and Netflix!) is more your thing. For us, preparation for the inevitability of snow and ice events has already begun.

Related: Learn your snow route

Making the Call

We value safety, so determining whether to alter service in a winter weather event is simple: If a situation is potentially unsafe for riders, operators or equipment, we take action.

Bus in snow

In practice, this means being ultra-aware of conditions across the system. To make this easier, we set up an Emergency Operations Center that’s staffed 24/7 during winter weather events, and allows us to streamline and speed up the process of gathering information, making decisions and disseminating information. (Activating an EOC during an emergency is standard practice across all types of agencies.)

We rely on and share information from the field and from regional partners like PBOT, ODOT and local media outlets. We track storms as they approach and coordinate with other agencies to plow and sand streets — we even have a few sanding trucks of our own to run on high elevation bus routes.

The Plan for Buses

Preparing buses for snow and ice often begins before service starts for the day. Specialized crews (affectionately known as “Snowbirds”) assess bus routes, specifically at high elevations, to see if they’re safe for normal bus operations. They might call for a sanding truck, put the line on snow route or cancel a run entirely.

Bus at curb in snow

Like other cars and trucks on the road, buses will often be chained if they’re running on snowy or icy streets. Just under half our buses have drop down “insta-chains,” which operators can deploy at the push of a button. (Otherwise, crews will chain the fleet at the garage or in the field, which takes just 10 or 15 minutes per bus, respectively.)

For riders, it’s important to keep in mind that chained buses travel slower — no faster than 25 mph — so they won’t stay on schedule. And in winter conditions your bus won’t pull up to the curb, lest it slide or become stuck. If that happens, we have rescue teams on standby to get it moving again.

MAX Service

MAX typically does well in snow, and we take measures to prevent ice buildup. Throughout the system, switches on the track are equipped with covers (some have heaters, too) and portions of the overhead wire have ice caps to keep ice at bay.

MAX in snow

The trains have pantograph heaters that are activated in snow and ice, and these also help prevent ice from accumulating. (The pantograph is the arm that connects the train to overhead power.) If necessary, we’ll run some trains overnight to keep ice from building up on the overhead wire. And if you’re at the station when one of these trains pulls up — for whatever reason, at whatever time — we’ll let you board!

If ice does begin to accumulate on the overhead wire, we have six MAX vehicles equipped with heated ice cutters on a second pantograph that can shave approximately 1/32 inch of ice off the wire with each pass.

Related: Tips for riding in winter weather

What You Need to Know

We’ve already mentioned that your bus will likely be late and perhaps on a different route (learn yours!) during snow and ice. If it gets too far off its normal schedule, we’ll turn off TransitTracker so estimated arrival times (which aren’t accurate when buses are traveling slower) become approximate distances — much more useful for planning your trip.

But don’t assume that snow means your bus is on snow route. We often need to alter service in the face of unpredictable weather, so instead check with us for updates on your lines: You’ll find service alerts and snow route updates at trimet.org/alerts, on Twitter and through our email list.

people in snow

Aside from checking your bus or train’s status before starting your trip, make sure your phone is charged and that you have water and warm clothing — don’t forget gloves and a hat. Leave plenty of time to walk to your stop or station and be extra careful on slopes. We (and our regional partners) do our best to de-ice roads, bridges, garages, platforms and parking lots, but you’ll likely find some slippery spots along the way. And if your bus stop is on a hill, head to the top or bottom to board — the bus can’t safely stop on a slope.

Finally, don’t approach the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver opens the door. There’s always a chance it could slide toward the curb once the brakes have locked the wheels.

If we’re faced with severe weather, we might need to reduce service to certain bus lines running on plowed streets. The idea is that by reassigning buses where they are most useful and less likely to get stuck, we can serve more riders.

As we mentioned at the top, our goal is to keep everyone safe. So even as things slow down, know that there’s a lot going on behind the scenes to coordinate safe travel in difficult circumstances. Winter weather requires extra effort from all of us, and we appreciate your trust, patience and preparedness when the time comes.

Which reminds us: Have you learned your snow route?

 

Brian Lum

Brian Lum

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Specialist. 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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Instagram Roundup: November

Our Instagram feed has been a welcome respite from a busy (to say the least) month. Indeed, the pictures you’ve shared with us have been pensive, serene, dazzling and even funny (thanks, Unipiper!).

Been having fun shooting more in the city lately. #portlandnw #pdxavsquad

A photo posted by Joseph McKinney (@mckjoe) on

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Portland commuting #fujix70

A photo posted by Takeshi Okuno (@tkc09) on

Something so wrong about these numbers makes them so right.

A photo posted by Jason Garland Sturgill (@jgspdx) on

Just a causal afternoon ride on the Portland Trimet Max 🚊🚃🚋🚉 #Max #Portland #Trimet #casual#afternoon

A photo posted by Erin McCabe (@pumpkinberrie) on

⚡tonight⚡

A photo posted by Kody Youmans (@xo_kody) on

Portland 😍 getting little festive ✨

A photo posted by Nabina Nazar (@nabinanazar) on

As always, tag @ridetrimet and #GoByTransit to share your ride!

Brian Lum

Brian Lum

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Specialist. 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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Instagram Roundup: October

Could October be the moodiest month?

Judging by the photos we were tagged in, that may well be the case. We’ve seen sudden downpours, fiery red leaves falling, spectacular sunsets and skies of every color. (Sure, we’re in for six months of darkness, but at least we’re going out in style!)

Motion

A photo posted by ANAND (@anandbc) on

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#autumn #fall #rain #leafs #leaf #glass #color #portland #trimet #bus

A photo posted by Alex Jones (@http.fantomboy.13) on

When you accidentally walk by the #OCI max while it’s riding by! 👍🏽 #ocikitchenninja #ocisugarbakers #happyfriday

A photo posted by Oregon Culinary Institute🔪 (@ocikitchenninja) on

SUPER BONUS: Portland’s favorite golden retriever rescue, Rusty Rodas, shared the #GoByTransit love.

On my way to work. #publictransportation #portland

A photo posted by RUSTY RODAS (@rustyrodas) on

As always, tag @ridetrimet and #GoByTransit to share your ride!

Brian Lum

Brian Lum

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Specialist. 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.

More Posts

5 Tips for Commuting in the Rain

Fall is finally upon us. This means days are shorter, nights are colder and — more often that not — it’s raining. And it won’t be stopping anytime soon.

So, as we adjust to the changing seasons, here are some tips for commuting in wet weather to help hold you over until the dry days of summer return.

#1. Dress in layers.

Weather in Oregon can be unpredictable. One minute, the sun’s out. The next minute, it’s a downpour. It’s best to layer up before you head out so you’re prepared for whatever weather conditions come your way. (And yes, umbrellas are allowed!)

#2. Check trimet.org/alerts before you go.

It’s always best practice to check our Service Alerts page before you go to make sure your bus or train is not experiencing any detours or delays. You can also sign up for email updates to get service alerts that affect you delivered right to your inbox.

#3. Light up the night!

Bring a small flashlight or blinky-light with you (or use the flashlight on your smartphone) to help you see and be seen. It gets darker much earlier and stays dark later into the morning, so having a personal light on you keeps you safe and helps our operators see you better!

#4. Heads up while walking, please.

It’s so easy to be distracted by our devices, but walking while looking at your smartphone poses a safety risk for yourself and everyone else around you. When out and about, please pay attention to where you’re going, especially when crossing streets or MAX tracks. In addition to keeping your eyes off your phone, do make sure that you can see out from beneath your umbrellas and hoods!

#5. Be aware of your surroundings.

In extreme weather conditions, unforeseen incidents may happen, like a fallen tree or downed power lines. A downed line doesn’t have to spark to be dangerous. It can be dangerous even if you’re not touching it: Water, metal, tree branches, concrete or other materials touching the wire can conduct electricity to you. Please be extra safe and take extra precautions if you must travel during intense weather situations.

Jessica Ridgway

Jessica Ridgway

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Coordinator. I develop content for our website and social media channels. I'm a daily MAX rider and an adopted Oregonian.

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