Author Archives: Dave Whipple

About Dave Whipple

I'm TriMet’s senior marketing communications coordinator in charge of interactive media. I manage online initiatives and help build useful and usable online tools for riders. I also moonlight as a musician in my spare time.

New bus ticket printers go into action July 1

New ticket printer on a bus

Starting Monday, July 1, riders will grab their ticket/transfer from the printer to the right of the fare box. (No more flimsy newsprint transfers!) Plus, all single-ride tickets will be valid for exactly 2 hours from the time of purchase.

By now, you’ve probably seen (and maybe even used) the new ticket printers mounted to the right of the fare boxes on TriMet buses. Those toaster-shaped boxes allow your operator to print out a 2-Hour Ticket or 1-Day Pass instantly by pressing a button on the dash, instead of manually punching and tearing a newsprint receipt.

We tested a few of the printers on lines 17 and 70 earlier this spring, and we got good feedback from both riders and operators. After making a few tweaks, we installed the printers on the rest of the fleet. Now, they’re ready for prime time.

So what does this mean for riders? For one, it takes the mystery out of getting a bus transfer, as all single-ride transfers are now valid for exactly 2 hours from the time of purchase—just like MAX and WES tickets. You can board any bus or train to complete your trip until the expiration time shown. (It’s OK if your ticket expires while you are on board.) 

The tickets are also easier to read and more durable than the flimsy newsprint transfers. They look like other TriMet tickets, with a foil security strip and the expiration time printed on the front.

Old newsprint bus transfer

Old newsprint bus transfer

The old transfer system required the operator to manually adjust a “cutter bar” to change the expiration time for transfers, and punch each one with the ticket type and day code. The time given varied depending on the day of the week and where you boarded in relation to the end of the route. The new ticket printers simplify and speed up this process, and allow us make all transfers consistent.

Do you have feedback about our new bus ticket printers? Let us know at trimet.org/feedback or call 503-238-RIDE (7433).

One step closer to mobile ticketing

intro-(1)Heads up: Starting today, you may see riders flashing their smartphones instead of tickets as they board the bus. It’s OK, they’re not freeloaders… They’re testing a new smartphone app that is about to make things easier and more convenient for tens of thousands of TriMet riders.

Today, we released a test version of our forthcoming mobile ticketing smartphone app to around 150 riders as part of a month-long beta test.

We recruited for beta testers back in March, and more than 1,500 people applied. (To keep the test manageable, we unfortunately had to narrow it down to 150, but we were thrilled with the response!)

We’re already seeing some great feedback from riders as they experience the process of buying and using TriMet fares instantly on their phone for the first time. These testers are vital to the success of the app, as they will help us work out the kinks and make it as easy-to-use as possible before we release it to all riders later this summer.

TriMet is the first U.S. transit agency to offer a mobile ticketing app for use systemwide on both buses and trains. iPhone and Android users can just download the free app, register a debit or credit card in the secure system, and purchase tickets and passes instantly–anywhere and at any time.

At least half of our riders have smartphones, so for many this will be a welcome alternative to ticket machines and waiting in lines!

We partnered with the local startup GlobeSherpa to develop the new app, which will be more cost-effective for us than traditional paper ticketing in the long run. 

Don’t worry, we’re not getting rid of paper tickets any time soon. But mobile ticketing is an important first step toward an electronic fare collection system, which we expect to begin testing around 2015. Eventually, you will be able to choose among smartcards, debit/credit cards, smartphones with near-field communication, and mobile ticketing, to pay your fare. Stay tuned!

Learn more about the mobile ticketing app and sign up for email updates

April 19th: Conference call with General Manager Neil McFarlane

TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane

TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane

Nearly every week this year, TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane is meeting with riders throughout the metro area to hear first-hand about their experiences on the transit system. (If you’re not already in the loop, we announce these events a few days in advance on Facebook, on Twitter and via email.)

Here’s another opportunity to chat with Neil, ask questions, and weigh in.

This Friday, April 19, 2013, from noon to 1 p.m., Neil will host a telephone conference call with riders to answer their questions.

To participate in the call, you will need to click this link and sign up for a personalized call-in number and PIN. We ask that you register with your full name and the city where you live. (Enter your city in the “Private Questions or Comments for Host” box.)

Register for the April 19 conference call with Neil

Please note that the conference service may provide a long-distance number for you to call. If you do not have access to or prefer not to use your long-distance minutes, you can also participate in the call via computer or other online calling software. If you need more information about these services, just let us know.

We hope you’ll join us!

Sneak peek: ticket printers on buses coming this summer

We’re installing new ticket printers on buses to make transfers more consistent for riders and easier for operators. Testing will begin on lines 17 and 70 in mid-March, and the printers will be up and running on all buses later this summer.

We’re improving the way we issue bus transfers, so that they’re more consistent and predictable for riders, and easier for operators.

You may have already seen the new ticket printers mounted near the farebox on some of our buses. (See photo at right.) We’re gradually installing them on the fleet, and testing will begin on lines 17 and 70 in mid-March.

Soon, instead of manually punching and tearing a newsprint receipt, your operator will be able to instantly print out a 2-Hour Ticket or 1-Day Pass simply by pressing a button on the console.

This will take the mystery out of getting a bus transfer, as all single-ride transfers will be valid for exactly 2 hours from the time of purchase, just like MAX and WES tickets.

The easy-to-read tickets will look like other TriMet tickets, with a foil security strip and the expiration time.

The existing transfer system requires the operator to manually adjust a “cutter bar” to change the expiration time for transfers, and punch each one with the ticket type and day code. The time given varies depending on the day of the week and where you boarded in relation to the end of the route. The new ticket printers will simplify and speed up this process, and make all transfers consistent.

Stay tuned for details about the ticket printers and when you can expect to see them in action. Even better, sign up to get updates by email.

Questions? Feedback? Let us know what you think. Contact us at http://trimet.org/feedback or call 503-238-RIDE (7433).

TriMet’s Myleen Richardson honored as Nature Conservancy “Volunteer of the Year”

TriMet's Myleen Richardson: The Nature Conservancy of Oregon's Volunteer of the Year

TriMet's Myleen Richardson was one of two volunteers to receive The Nature Conservancy's "Volunteer of the Year" honor for 2011.

The Nature Conservancy of Oregon has honored TriMet’s own Myleen Richardson with the conservation group’s 2011 “Volunteer of the Year” Award.

As TriMet’s bus stop planner/analyst, Myleen manages a complex database that tracks our 7,000+ bus stops and rail stations—juggling details about their location, the lines that serve them, their Stop ID numbers and amenities such as shelters, benches, sidewalks and crosswalks. In her role at The Nature Conservancy, she uses similar skills to manage their volunteer database and surveys for volunteer satisfaction. This is a critical task, because the Conservancy depends on at least 20 full-time employees worth of volunteer time every year!

One of the reasons I volunteer is that I enjoy helping others. I volunteer for The Nature Conservancy because it’s a cause I believe in.”

Myleen holds two (yes, two) masters degrees: a Master of Public Affairs and a Master of Science in Environmental Science, with a focus on environmental policy and natural resource management. She began volunteering for the Conservancy in 2000, the same year she was hired at TriMet.

Her behind-the-scenes work is helping to protect critical habitats for nature as well as people.

“One of the reasons I volunteer is that I enjoy helping others,” says Myleen. “I volunteer for The Nature Conservancy because it’s a cause I believe in.”

The Conservancy’s program director, Molly Doughtery, describes Myleen as being “key to the organization’s success and an important part of the team.”

“From complex database queries, to communications, to jumping in wherever needed, I can count on Myleen to do the job right,” says Molly.

Without knowing it, TriMet riders count on Myleen, too. The database she manages is used to deliver service information to riders and to coordinate the maintenance of stops and stations. When you come across a stop name or Stop ID number on TriMet’s website or phone system, for example, Myleen’s had a hand in it. On board the bus, when you hear an automated announcement for the next stop, again, that’s Myleen’s behind-the-scenes work.

It’s a lot of responsibility, really, and it occasionally spills over into her personal life. “It’s hard for me to stay in town for a vacation,” says Myleen, “because bus stops are everywhere, and my eyes are always drawn to them, especially when something is in need of attention.”

True to her small-town Midwest background, Myleen is not one to seek the spotlight. Nonetheless, she is a star here at TriMet, as well as at The Nature Conservancy. Thank you, Myleen, for what you do for us and our community!

DISCUSS THIS ON FACEBOOK: April 15-21 is National Volunteer Week. Do you volunteer or plan on volunteering in your community?

Sunday, March 18, is International Bus Driver Appreciation Day!

Did you know that Sunday, March 18, 2012, is International Bus Driver Appreciation Day?

You didn’t?

OK, so maybe it’s not an official holiday… yet. Here’s your chance to help us spread the word and make it a tradition!

School bus drivers have their day to shine, and so do truck drivers. Bus Driver Appreciation Day was conceived in 2009 by some riders up in Seattle, and we think it’s a great way to honor the many hard-working bus (and rail) operators who keep us all moving every day.

Why March 18? That’s the day that bus service is believed to have debuted in Paris in 1662. If you don’t ride on Sundays, feel free to observe the holiday on Monday!

Some might think driving a bus is easy, but consider this: For hours on end, operators manage to keep a schedule, check fares, give directions, announce stops, remember stop requests and more, all while safely maneuvering a 40-foot vehicle through unpredictable traffic, adverse weather conditions and some really tight spaces. Not only that, they face frustrated riders when the bus is late—even when it’s because of traffic or other circumstances out of their control. And then there’s that little issue of bathroom breaks… Fact is, bus drivers don’t have an easy job, they just make it look that way.

So here’s a shout out to our 1,200+ bus and rail operators, and transit operators everywhere: THANK YOU and keep up the good work!

By the way, you don’t have to wait for an annual holiday to thank your operator for a job well done. You can submit a commendation any time using our easy online form at trimet.org or by calling 503-238-RIDE (option 5).

Visit busdriverday.org and help us spread the word to friends, family, neighbors and co-workers!

55 new buses to join the fleet in 2012

This rendering shows what our new buses will look like when they arrive from the manufacturer in fall 2012.

Great news for bus riders! We’re adding 55 new buses to the fleet next year.

As riders can attest, many of our buses are overdue for replacement. (About 150 buses in our fleet are more than 18 years old.) They’re noisy and bumpy, and some don’t even have air conditioning. Not only are these older buses uncomfortable for riders and operators, they are becoming too unreliable and expensive for us to maintain.

That’s why, using grant funding and debt service, we’re replacing 55 of our oldest buses in 2012. We’re also planning for future bus purchases, starting with a “State of Good Repair” grant from the Federal Transit Administration that will fund an additional 14 buses in 2013.

The new buses are currently being designed at the Gillig factory in Hayward, California.

In addition to air conditioning, automatic stop announcements and low floors for easy boarding, they’ll feature:

  • vinyl seats that are easier to clean
  • LED lights on the mirrors that alert pedestrians and motorists of intent to turn
  • an innovative electronic cooling system based on auto-racing technology
  • a longer, more gradual boarding ramp capable of carrying heavier loads
  • a streamlined front end

Four of the buses will be next-generation hybrid-electric vehicles, which we will test for performance, maintenance needs and fuel efficiency.

The electronic cooling system, dubbed “mini-hybrid” technology, is already in use on more than 100 of our buses and has been shown to improve fuel economy by more than 5 percent. It uses an electrified subsystem to operate at an optimal temperature range, as opposed to a standard hydraulic or mechanical fan system.

Our goal is to reduce the average age of our bus fleet from 13 1/2 years to 8 by 2020, and to replace all remaining high-floor buses (those with steps at the door) with low-floor vehicles by 2013.

A prototype bus is expected to arrive in Portland next spring, and the rest will begin shipping from the factory in the fall. Stay tuned for more details!

WEIGH IN ON FACEBOOK: What are you looking forward to most about our new buses?