Four Ways to Celebrate Black History Month

In a smart Slate piece about more thoughtful ways to celebrate Black History Month, Aisha Harris implores readers to do more — to make an effort to learn something new about the black community or experience.

So if you haven’t already, now’s a great time to start. We’ve gathered some ideas below — these upcoming events will broaden your perspective and offer insight into the past, present and future of African-American culture. Each is guaranteed to be engaging and thought-provoking, and all are accessible by transit.

Cascade Festival of African Films

Thursday, Friday and Saturday screenings through March 5 at PCC Cascade Campus’ Moriarty Arts & Humanities Building. Free.

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The films being shown this year take on subjects as varied as urban life, gender equality and religious fundamentalism, but the majority of them share a common trait: They were made by African directors. This makes for a great opportunity to explore the continent’s diverse cultures through the lens of first-hand experience.

The festival’s centerpiece film, Run, plays February 19 at 7 p.m. at the Hollywood Theatre. Free.

The festival’s centerpiece film is Run, which takes place in the present-day Ivory Coast. The story reflects on the journey of a man named Run, who is in hiding after assassinating the country’s prime minister. It’s described as “impassioned and poetic…a strong allegory for the people and history of contemporary Ivory Coast.”

Portland Black Film Festival

Through February 27 at the Hollywood Theatre. General admission $8.

Bringing things closer to home, this young film festival focuses on the black experience in America. Seven films will be screened, including A Ballerina’s Tale, the story of prodigal ballerina Misty Copeland, and the only known print of Catch My Soul, a 1974 rock opera treatment of Othello (!).

African American Read-In

February 14 at 2 p.m. at the North Portland Library; Teen Read-In is February 26 at 4 p.m. at the St. Johns Library. Free.

Two Multnomah County Libraries have gathered community leaders, teachers, students and local celebrities to read from their favorite books by black authors — but you can do more than just listen. Everyone will be able to share words from their favorite works, and children and young adults will be able to enjoy special gatherings.

PDX Jazz Fest

February 18–26 at a dozen Portland venues. Tickets for individual shows from $15.

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This festival began 13 years ago as a Black History Month initiative to heighten jazz outreach and education in Portland, and now it’s bringing world-class performances to our city. Jazz is one of America’s most celebrated art forms, with roots in hundreds of years of the black experience — but it’s not all history. What you’ll discover at these shows and talks is that jazz is an ever-evolving medium.

So whether you’re at an intimate club like the iconic Jimmy Mak’s or seated in the Newmark Theater, taking in a tribute to the greats or watching a virtuoso harpist who has recorded with Drake, you’re sure to marvel at how vital jazz really is.


The final point Harris makes in her article is that we need to continue this conversation year-round — not just every February. So after you’ve enjoyed the festivals and events, consider that there is infinitely more to share and learn. There are people to meet, businesses to become acquainted with, books to read and lots of history to consider.

All this is especially important to us as a transit service (as everyone who knows Rosa Parks’ story can attest). We have an ongoing responsibility to steer our legacy toward fairness, understanding and appreciation — that’s what drives our transit equity and diversity work, and why we encourage everyone to celebrate Black History Month.

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: January

We rang in January with free rides on New Year’s Eve — not long after that came the snow (and lots of it). Our Instagram feed was filled with great shots of wintry commutes, lights and bridges…and pancakes. Here’s a look at some of the photos you shared with us last month:

Pretty pretty in my Bridge City today ❄️ #SnowAtLast

A photo posted by Madison Daisy (@missmadisondaisy) on

Follow @ridetrimet on Instagram »

#cloudyday crossing #tilikumcrossing #bridge #portland #oregon #pnw #trimet #gooutside

A photo posted by portland oregon based person (@nutsandboltsphoto) on

#commute #trimet #publictransportation #gobytransit #train #tigard #oregon

A photo posted by Sabrina (@fromaway) on

The Tilikum Crossing after OMSI After Dark last weekend, gotta love Portland at night.

A photo posted by Harrison Kistler (@harrisonkistler) on

Mass Transit pt II. . . . #oregon #explore #pdx #portland #pnw #vsco #vscocam #perspective

A photo posted by Jeff Toreson (@jeffsview) on

Beautiful view of @ridetrimet making its way over the Steel Bridge. What a dreamy city! 😍 #downtownPDX #PDX

A photo posted by Downtown Portland (@downtownpdx) on

Street Car Vibes • 008|366 Portland is really transit friendly. |#BrowniesWestCoastWinter

A photo posted by A L E X (@dearmrjack) on

What have you come up with this month? Tag @ridetrimet and #GoByTransit to show us your stuff!

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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Date night ideas—all accessible by transit!

heart rosette whitebgValentine’s Day is just around the corner, so why not surprise your sweetheart with a date you can get to by bus or train? Here are some fun (and frugal!) date nights — and you don’t have to drive!

The good ol’ go-to

Who doesn’t love dinner and a movie? MAX Blue and Red lines will take you right to the Regal Lloyd Center Cinema, or hop on the Green Line to check out Clackamas Town Center’s XD Theater. Want to have dinner delivered to your seat during the film? Check out the Living Room Theater in Downtown Portland. The Portland Streetcar and Line 20-Burnside/Stark will take you there.

Brunch lovers

Forget the fancy dinner and take your Valentine out to brunch. Portland — known for its brunch scene — is chock full of great spots. Here are a few you can get to by public transportation: Old Salt Marketplace (Line 75-Cesar Chavez/Lombard), Kerns Kitchen (Line 19-Woodstock/Glisan), An Xuyen (Line 14-Hawthorne), and Roman Candle (Line 4-Division/Fessenden).

Plan a private pub crawl

Perfect for the beer lover in your life! Stay safe and off the streets by planning your crawl along a bus, train or Portland Streetcar route. Need a little inspiration? Here’s a Belmont pub crawl by bus, a pub crawl through the Pearl District and a crawl all along the streetcar’s North/South Line.

Play in the park

Washington Park, that is! Take MAX Blue or Red lines to the Washington Park MAX Station and explore! There’s not much in bloom at the International Rose Garden, and the Portland Japanese Garden is closed through March, but you can still enjoy a stroll with your sweetie through the Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum or the World Forestry Center.

Nature lovers

Spend some alone time with your Valentine in the wild outdoors. There are so many hiking trails accessible by transit, rain or shine! Frolic through Forest Park — Lines 15, 20 and MAX can get you there .

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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Parking and riding? Four tips to prevent car break-ins

No one likes to walk up to their car and see their window busted out and belongings gone.

Car break-ins are crimes of opportunity. Just the other day, I was walking through a parking lot with some fellow Transit Police officers and spotted a purse sitting in plain view on the back seat of a Honda Civic.

Whether using a Park & Ride, parking at your office lot or just parked on the street outside your house, take these few simple precautions to not become a victim.

Don’t give them the opportunity

Thieves will make a split-second decision to break into a vehicle. If they see something of value through the window, that’s an opportunity. Do not leave valuable items — purses, computers, phones, shopping bags — visible in your car. Better yet, leave them at home or take them with you when you go.

Leave it “showroom” clean

Even the small stuff like chargers and ear buds give thieves cause to think there may be a mobile phone, GPS or other electronics inside. Sunglasses and spare change might not seem like much to you, but for those doing “smash and grabs” it can add up. Tuck it all away and leave your car “showroom” clean — just like it came from a dealership

Stow before you go

If you absolutely have to leave items in the car, stow them in the trunk, under the cargo cover or in the console before you go. Even tuck that charger away before you reach your destination. You never know who might be watching what you’re doing after you park.

Lock it

An unlocked car is an invitation, not just to take the stuff inside but to steal the car itself. Don’t make it easy for thieves. Check to make sure it is locked before you walk away, whether you test the door handle(s) or hit the lock button until the horn beeps.

Taking these simple steps can keep you from becoming a victim. If you happen to see someone hanging around a Park & Ride or spot an item left on a platform, say something — Call 9-1-1 or alert a TriMet employee.

And, please remember, whether you use a Park & Ride, catch the train in your neighborhood or are just walking along a city street, be aware and be safe. Take just a moment before crossing train tracks or the street to look up, look around and make sure it is safe to cross.

Christina Hansen-Tuma

Christina Hansen-Tuma

I’m Officer Christina Hansen-Tuma with the Transit Police Division. Working in transit, I get to meet different people across the metro area and help make TriMet a system that my grandmother would enjoy riding. When I’m not on the job, I’m busy spending time with my kids and running in marathons!

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Here’s How We Plan to Improve MAX Reliability

In the two months since I joined TriMet as the new chief operating officer, I’ve developed an initial focus: delivering more reliable service, and doing it safely.

We know that MAX on-time performance (OTP), our measure of reliability, isn’t what it should be. Right now about one in every five trips is delayed. I know how frustrating this can be, and the impact it can have on a busy schedule. There are places you need to be — work, school, your child’s daycare, the doctor’s office — and it’s our responsibility to help get you there on time.

People took about 38 million trips on MAX last year.

The bottom line is that we need to do better, and earn your trust.

Our teams are working hard to chart a new course. We’re planning to address many areas that affect our system’s OTP, with a goal of raising it over time to an average of 90 percent. (For reference, we averaged 75 percent OTP for MAX in November.)

Achieving this will require some long-term efforts and investments, but I think we can do a lot in the months ahead.

What causes delays?

MAX is a very complex system that operates about 22½ hours a day, with a fleet of 145 vehicles. We’ve looked closely at what causes delays and found that one-third of it revolves around issues like cars blocking the tracks or passengers in need of medical attention — events beyond our immediate control. Even a fallen tree can cause a significant disruption, as we saw in December when it took four hours to clear a tree from the tracks in Downtown Portland. (Even though I was on a bus, we were gridlocked in the traffic backup and I felt the frustration.)

MAX vehicles at Ruby Junction. MAX is a complex system, running 22½ hours a day.
MAX vehicles at Ruby Junction. MAX is a complex system operating 22½ hours a day.

The remaining two-thirds of delays fall within our control, involving trains, signals, switches or numerous other operating issues.

How we’ll improve

To start, we’re focusing on four key areas:

Physical improvements

Parts of the MAX system are 30 years old, and some of its elements need to be upgraded or replaced.

This year, we’re dedicating more than $11 million initially to replace track and switches at the Rose Quarter and along First Avenue in Downtown Portland. (This will also likely require future investments.) Another focus will be on the Steel Bridge, the 104-year-old span that carries four MAX lines over the Willamette. That, along with the adjoining Rose Quarter area, is the site of frequent switch and signal problems. We’re designing an upgrade to the tracks, signals and switches on the bridge, and construction is scheduled to begin in 2017. Given the complexity of the system on the bridge, we’ve hired outside expertise to help us improve reliability and maximize capacity.

Four MAX lines cross the 104-year-old Steel Bridge.
Four MAX lines cross the 104-year-old Steel Bridge.

That’s the good news. However, as you might have guessed, work at the Rose Quarter and along First Avenue is going to require a disruption to MAX service while parts are upgraded or replaced. We’re working on a plan to help keep your ride as smooth as possible during that time, and we’ll share more as we get closer.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue overhauling and upgrading MAX vehicles, making them more reliable for many years and millions of miles to come.

More support for frontline employees

Our ever-growing bus and MAX system means we have a lot of new operators. They’re all capable and professional but, like at any new job, it can take time to get comfortable with the rhythm and intricacies of driving a train on a busy and recently expanded system. That’s why we’re planning to expand our support, coaching and training for operators, helping them become more assured and confident. This should make everyone’s ride smoother and more reliable.

Changing the way we operate

We can also change the way we operate to improve OTP and give you a more reliable ride. We’re working on that now, and I’m excited to see what we come up with. Rest assured, we will never compromise safety.

Working with partners to limit delays

The incident with the fallen tree and the four-hour delay spurred us to meet with the City of Portland to look for ways to shorten delays. We’re also reaching out to our first-responder partners to get trains moving quicker after an incident.

That’s where we start. As this work goes on, I want to be open with you about how we’re doing, the progress we’ve made and what we’ve learned. As I mentioned, this is a complex system and improving it involves focus and resolve. We have a great team of talented and proud people who work very hard to serve you each and every day. We’ll be providing updates and putting together a web page where you can track our performance over time, and we expect to see the number of delays go down over time as our reliability improves.

Doug Kelsey

Doug Kelsey

As chief operating officer, I oversee our transportation, maintenance and information technology divisions. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with family and being active outdoors, especially cycling. I'm a huge basketball fan, and I'm proud to be a co-founder of one of Canada's largest high school tournaments.

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The Year in Review: 2015

Our year has been characterized by success and surprise in equal measure. Everything from fireworks to record rainfall has left an impression upon us, and we’ve learned a little more with each passing event.

And the best part is that we’ve set up 2016 to be a great year.

Scroll down for a look at some of the highlights from the last 12 months, and what you can expect from us in the near future.

We opened the MAX Orange Line and Tilikum Crossing.

The year’s marquee event — not just for us, but for transportation in the Portland region — was the opening of the Orange Line. Our fifth light rail project looked nothing like the others before it, mostly because it included an extraordinary new bridge.

Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People, is (say it with me!) the first bridge in the U.S. allowing transit, pedestrians and bikes, but no private vehicles. It’s also a work of art — slender, with clean lines and generous decks — but it was still an incredible surprise to see upwards of 40,000 people celebrating it on Aug. 9 at the People’s Preview.

Just over a month later, after what has to be some of the most genuinely fun fanfare to accompany a transit project (the fireworks mentioned above were just part of the one-of-a-kind series of celebrations), the Orange Line began service. And it became clear what was at the heart of all our anticipation: a forward-thinking solution to getting around the increasingly busy corridor between Portland and Milwaukie.

We added service.

The Orange Line was the biggest addition to our service this year, but it isn’t the only thing we added. We restored frequent service on MAX and 12 bus lines, meaning a train or bus every 15 minutes or better most of the day, every day.

We were thrilled to see the introduction of North Hillsboro Link, a free and flexible shuttle connecting riders to jobs, schools, community services and events. It complements Ride Connection’s other shuttles in Tualatin and Forest Grove.

There’s more on the way, too. Many of the other plans you’ve helped us shape in our Future of Transit project will be funded thanks to the additional revenue coming from the recent employer payroll tax increase. Employers pay for the majority of our operating revenue, and this increase of 1/10th of one percent (phased in over 10 years) will go toward more service, better frequency and new connections. And you won’t have to wait long to see more service — we’ve already planned the introduction of bus Line 97-Tualatin/Sherwood this summer.

We got new buses and trains.

Our plans for enhanced service also called for more vehicles, and this year we made some interesting additions to our bus and rail fleet. What we didn’t get: more of the same. In early spring we brought in the first of 22 30-foot buses, which are smaller and handle better on routes with tight turns.

Then came the fifth-generation (Type 5) MAX vehicles, which feature more and better seats (with more legroom), better ramps and a better air conditioning system than previous models. These improvements were partially the result of rider and operator feedback. (Interestingly, the seating layout and ramp design ended up resembling those of our second and third generation trains.)

Finally, we introduced the confusingly-named but fantastically clean-running all-electric hybrids — buses that can be completely electrically powered, which our older hybrids can’t do. They’re quiet, get good gas mileage (at least 6 miles per gallon, impressive for a bus) and they’ll save plenty in fuel costs over their lifetime.

We started developing Hop Fastpass.

We’re joining the ranks of transit districts with electronic fare systems, and if you’ve ever used contactless fares like ORCA or Clipper, you probably understand why this is a big deal.

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Hop Fastpass, our regional e-fare system, makes its debut in 2017. You’ll be able to ride cash-free and paperless — no more searching for change or keeping track of tickets — and you can even have Hop automatically reload balance on your card so you’re never stuck without fare.

And if you’re a frequent rider you can pay your way toward a monthly pass, one ride at a time. After using Hop to pay for 20 day passes in one month, you’ll ride free until the next month. It’s a convenient way to get the value of a monthly pass without the upfront cost, and you’ll never pay for rides you don’t use.

We contended with weather.

MAX is designed to operate best within our region’s average temperature range — but as we all know, this year hasn’t been average. It was the hottest summer on record in the Northwest, and at its peak MAX had to slow down in case it came across anything amiss (sun-kinked rails, sagging power wires). Of course, slower trains cause delays, which are even less fun when it’s 100 degrees out.

(Speaking of the heat: As of last week, all our buses have been equipped with air conditioning — doesn’t mean much now, but we’ll be that much more comfortable next summer!)

Then came the rain. By Halloween, the combination of torrential downpours and clogged storm drains across the region made streets into rivers — including the MAX tracks below the Morrison Bridge. It was there that we made a fateful error and drove a train through standing water, which entered the cab (we were glad nobody was hurt) and damaged the vehicle’s undercarriage.

While our mechanics diligently inspected and repaired the water damage, we were stuck sending out single-car MAX trains. After the regrettable endeavor, we vowed to use our common sense next time.

We had some service issues.

Our troubles didn’t end with the weather. This year saw some persistent switch and signal issues cause recurring delays for MAX riders.  You deserve more reliable and efficient service than we often delivered, and we’re truly sorry about that.

fix

Whether it’s a known issue (like problem switches), ongoing work (like train rehab and maintenance) or something that just comes up, know that we’re doing everything we can to fix it. Designing better equipment (new switches are coming next year); improving and retrofitting our oldest trains (we’ve only got a couple more to go); working vigilantly to keep things running in the worst weather.

There will be some tough weeks next year while we dig in and do the remodeling, but we promise you a more reliable ride when it’s done.

We connected with you in new ways.

Through it all, we enjoyed connecting with you this year. We engaged more on Twitter and Facebook, which let us provide more useful information but more importantly made us better listeners.

We also found some extraordinary new ways to keep in touch:

Sharing an only-on-transit moment on Instagram. Sharing an Orange Line IPA at BridgePort. Handing out Tilikum Crossing scarves during a historic Timbers season. Parading lit-up bikes through the night in the rain. We did a lot this year, and you were right there with us.

We learned a ton.

The point of looking back at the events that shaped our year isn’t simply to reminisce. More importantly, processing these experiences and hearing what worked for you (and what didn’t) helps us think of ways we can do better in the future, starting now.  We’ll capitalize on our successes and learn from the mistakes, and keep the focus on improving  your ride — because we really believe that’s what’s most important.

We can’t wait to show you more in 2016. Thanks for riding.

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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5 tips for a happy—and safe—holiday season

The holidays are a time of wonder and goodwill, and for the men and women of the Transit Police Division, a time to step up our patrols on the TriMet system. In an effort to keep the Grinch at bay, we need your help to make sure your belongings (and those holiday purchases) make it home with you.

P1030533
Lt. Rachel Andrew chats with a rider on how to travel safely this holiday season.

So far this month, we’ve noticed a good thing—riders being more courteous to each other. This is something we hope to see year round! But please don’t get complacent—thieves will strike when you least expect it.

Here are the top five tips to make sure you have a happy and safe holiday season:

  1. Pay attention to your belongings.

Too often we see someone hang up their bike on MAX and then go sit down with their back to it. A thief could make off with your bike and you wouldn’t notice! So far, two-thirds of reported thefts this year were items left behind or lost and never turned in to Lost & Found, so please keep track of your things.

  1. Pay attention to your surroundings.

We can all get so caught up in our phones or devices that might not notice someone watching us. Look up every so often to see who is around you and trust your instincts. When you hear, “Doors are closing, please hang on,” on MAX, make sure to hang on to your phone and other items. Thieves often look for opportunities to snatch-and-run as vehicles are about to leave a stop.

  1. Don’t leave valuables in your car at Park & Rides.

Leaving items, especially valuables, in plain view in your parked car is an invitation to thieves. If you must leave packages or other things in your car, make sure they are out of sight or locked in a trunk. If a thief walks by and doesn’t see anything worth breaking a window for, they’ll likely move on.

  1. See something. Say something.

If you see something suspicious, please say something. Tell your operator or call 9-1-1 immediately—we’ll decide what’s important. You never know, your call could prevent a crime.

  1. Look and listen when crossing tracks and streets.

Please listen for approaching trains and look both ways when crossing tracks. Take your time and don’t run across—a few seconds could save your life.

All year round, Transit Police officers patrol the system, hopping on trains and buses, and interacting with riders at stations and transit centers. During the holidays, we increase our missions to keep those looking to spoil the season from targeting you and your stuff.

P1030536
Happy holidays from the Transit Police Division!
Christina Hansen-Tuma

Christina Hansen-Tuma

I’m Officer Christina Hansen-Tuma with the Transit Police Division. Working in transit, I get to meet different people across the metro area and help make TriMet a system that my grandmother would enjoy riding. When I’m not on the job, I’m busy spending time with my kids and running in marathons!

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