All posts by Andrew Longeteig

I’m TriMet’s Communications Coordinator. I share what’s happening at the agency with the media and general public. When I’m not working, I’ll either be watching the Blazers or at a rock concert.

Bus Operator of the Year Alex Ohly’s laid-back approach works

OOY 2016 - alex

Alex Ohly loves to tinker. If it involves an engine, even better. After all, he does own six 1980s-era Volvos.

When he moved to Oregon in 1990, he sought machinist jobs after a career making eye-surgery instruments in St. Louis. One big problem: the United States was mired in an economic recession. Also, pay was low for the work, and most of these positions didn’t offer employer-sponsored insurance plans.

However, he loved to drive and saw TriMet had a need for bus operators.

“I took it as a temporary job. I really just needed insurance. As it turned out, I really liked it. It’s like I’ve been in-between jobs for 26 years,” laughs Ohly.

Fortunately, the 1990 recession quickly passed, and Ohly’s career stability at TrIMet helped him weather the most recent economic downturn. How? Well, he’s good at what he does. For the past 21 years, he’s driven safely, which has earned him a National Safe Driving Award each year (no preventable accidents during that time). And he shows up — he had nine straight years of perfect attendance.

It’s about the people

His approach to his profession is simple.

“You have to try to understand people,” says Ohly, whose workday typically begins at 6 a.m. and ends at 3:15 p.m. “A lot of times, people are upset for whatever reason when they get on the bus. If you’re kind to them, it goes away.”

Alex Ohly_3

“When operating a bus, I never sacrifice safety or people’s comfort. Just go smooth and take it easy. Go with the flow.”

His approach has culminated into being our newest Bus Operator of the Year, an award he says blew him away when his name was announced in front of his peers.

He’s also a Master Operator, which is an honor given to operators who earn at least 15 Superior Performance Awards, earned by working at least 1,960 hours with no preventable accidents, warnings, or reprimands.

Life away from TriMet

When he’s not driving his usual Line 48-Cornell or Line 88-Hart/198th, you’ll likely find Ohly and his wife relaxing at their Lake Oswego home. They’ve grown roots, including, at one time, a vegetable garden.

“Unfortunately, we shared the garden with raccoons, so that didn’t work too well,” he says.

Now he spends much of his free time either with his grandson or thinking about fly fishing. He owns quite a few fly rods, but instead of catching fish, he works on the “art of casting” in his large backyard. No question, when the time comes to catch real fish, Ohly will be ready.

Interested in driving a TriMet bus? We’re hiring bus operators! Consider a career with TriMet and see where it takes you.

Andrew Longeteig

Andrew Longeteig

I’m TriMet’s Communications Coordinator. I share what’s happening at the agency with the media and general public. When I’m not working, I’ll either be watching the Blazers or at a rock concert.

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Renewing our bus fleet

If you ride often, you know we have some old buses. The kind that make you feel like you’ve time-traveled to 1995, when multi-colored cloth patterns were kinda cool, the Blazers played in Memorial Coliseum and Portland’s own Everclear released “Santa Monica” to the world.

That era is fading away, however, as we’ve put 326 new buses on the road the past four years. All of our new buses have amenities such as vinyl seats, easy-to-read LED signs, better interior and exterior lighting and onboard GPS (which improves the accuracy of our TransitTracker) — features lacking in some of our older buses. And our entire active fleet now has essentials like air conditioning and low floors for easy boarding. (We’ll keep some of the older buses as backup.)

This past February, the first batch of 77 new diesel-powered buses (the 3500 series) took to the streets. By the end of the month, they’ll all be in service.

Our buses are getting more efficient in fuel consumption and emissions, led by eight hybrid buses, four of which have all-electric capabilities. We’ve also tested some fully electric buses, technology that’s quickly advancing and certainly something we’re considering for the future.

And we’re not finished. (Not even close.)

We’re getting 151 new buses in the next three years, which will help keep the average age of our fleet to an industry-standard eight years. This way, your next ride is less likely to remind you of the time before flip phones.

Learn more about the newest buses in our fleet

Andrew Longeteig

Andrew Longeteig

I’m TriMet’s Communications Coordinator. I share what’s happening at the agency with the media and general public. When I’m not working, I’ll either be watching the Blazers or at a rock concert.

More Posts

Meet Justina Carrillo, Our Part-Time Bus Operator of the Year

As a TriMet bus operator for the past 13 years, Justina Carrillo has had her share of good days and challenging ones.

One day was downright bizarre.

“I had one passenger tell me how to rob a bank,” she says. “He said ‘Just remember, these are the keys so you won’t do hard time.’ I laughed so hard.”

Another day that stands out for Carrillo happened just last month — her co-workers voted her as the 2016 Part-Time Bus Operator of the Year.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” says Carrillo, who typically drives Line 33-McLoughlin/King Rd and Line 85-Swan Island. “It surprised me. People are still coming up and saying they saw me on the website. It’s very nice to be recognized.”

Carrillo, no doubt, deserved the award. She’s already collected 21 National Safe Driving Awards — meaning no preventable accidents in 21 years of driving — and six Superior Performance Awards, earned by working at least 1,960 hours with no preventable accidents, warnings, reprimands or suspensions.

The secret to her success?

“It’s about safety first and trying not to take everything personally,” she says.

Getting started

Growing up in SE Portland, Carrillo’s parents always used TriMet. She even recalls riding buses on TriMet’s predecessor, the defunct Rose City Transit Company, as a young child.

“It’s funny that I drive professionally because my parents never drove,” she says.

After her parents passed away, Carrillo needed “something to do.” She started as an operator and trainer for LIFT, our paratransit service.

She spent 11 years at LIFT and was looking for a change. Another colleague persuaded her to apply to become a bus operator. It wasn’t the smoothest transition.

“At first, I didn’t like it,” Carrillo says. “My co-worker said to give it six months. She was right, because after six months, I really started to like it. It was like a second hat.”

Twenty-four years later, she’s still with us.

Justina Carrillo (3 of 3)

Pastimes

Carrillo has a life outside TriMet, which usually involves catching salmon or trout in the Columbia River.

“I’m not into catch and release,” she says. “I want to keep it if I spend all that time out there.”

She also tends to her vegetable garden where she grows tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers.

One of her favorite pastimes is bingo, although it’s lost its popularity over the years. Carrillo says there used to be a dozen or so bingo halls all over town. Now there’s just a few left, including her favorite, DAV Bingo, in NE Portland.

No stopping her

Five years down the road, Carrillo envisions being in the same career. She may go full-time, but really appreciates the flexibility of her part-time schedule, which is 30 hours per week.

Her shifts go by fast because she enjoys what she does (despite the occasional advice on how to rob a bank).

“I like the people on my route,” she says. “I also love seeing the city and seeing the changes going on in the Portland area.”

We’re hiring bus operators! It’s $15/hour to start, and $28/hour after three years, with great benefits (including a 401K plan)! On average, part-time operators have the opportunity to go full-time after six months.
Interested? Apply today!
Andrew Longeteig

Andrew Longeteig

I’m TriMet’s Communications Coordinator. I share what’s happening at the agency with the media and general public. When I’m not working, I’ll either be watching the Blazers or at a rock concert.

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Settling down: Jeffery Evans’ winding journey to MAX Operator of the Year

OOY 2016 - jeffrey

Jeffery Evans was in a rut. He was working as a revenue officer for the IRS in Colorado, collecting delinquent tax returns.

“It’s a lot worse than it sounds,” he says.

He kept at it because of the good wages. The stress, though, took its toll.

One day, his wife suggested he quit. So he did. Together they traveled the world — Venezuela, Australia, New Zealand and all over North America.

Eventually, their travel funds ran dry and reality set in — they had to return to work. But they were not keen on Colorado, or where they had met and lived previously, the Bay Area.

“We rented a truck and drove up I-5,” Evans recalls. “We had no idea where we were going to go, but knew we wanted to check out Portland and Seattle.”

They never made it to Seattle. The couple stumbled upon a condo in Lake Oswego’s Mountain Park community and quickly began their second careers, his wife with the State of Oregon and Evans, with TriMet as a bus operator.

Train buff

He spent seven years operating a bus, but he always had his eye on MAX Light Rail. His love for trains goes back to his early childhood days in Kankakee, Illinois.

In the mid-1950s, his family had a small house near the main railroad line. Every afternoon, Evans’ mom would take him out into the yard to see “Harry the Choo Choo” engineer pull up and blow his whistle. Evans, about three years old at the time, would smile and wave. His dad began calling him “Box Car,” a nickname his brother revived when TriMet hired him as a MAX operator in 1998.

He’s paid it forward. He gets joy from seeing a child on a platform or sidewalk with their parents, giving an extra toot on the horn, or ring of the bell. “It always lifts me up,” he says. “It makes a good day that much better.”

His longevity and dedication to his profession has paid dividends as well. Just last month, TriMet bestowed upon him one of its highest honors — MAX Operator of the Year.

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MAX and bus operators qualify for this award based on outstanding driving records, customer service and attendance. Fellow operators vote for the winners.

“It was a feeling of excitement and shock,” he says when he first learned of the award. “It was like I was standing away watching myself, almost like an out-of-body experience.”

So long … and thanks for the memories

Coincidentally, a week after he became MAX Operator of the Year, Evans retired. He and his wife are leaving Oregon and building a house in Sedona, Arizona. They’ll move in next month.

He won’t quickly forget TriMet, however, where he made many great memories and friends. He enjoyed the independence his job brought, which allowed him to trade shifts with co-workers so he could take longer vacations.

As a bus operator, he fondly remembers driving an extra service bus and picking up three high school prom-bound couples whose limo had broken down on SW 5th and Washington. Evans picked up the kids, who were noticeably excited (and relieved), and cruised down NW 23rd with the prom-goers waving out the window to bystanders on the sidewalk. Once they got to Montgomery Park, the official yearbook photographer took photos of all the couples exiting the bus.

Also, earlier this year, he briefly appeared in a Siemens commercial filmed in Portland and Gresham, a process he enjoyed being a part of.

Final stop, Arizona

Evans is excited to explore Arizona’s wilderness on foot and motorcycle. He plans to backpack through the Grand Canyon and Sycamore Canyon. He looks forward to cruising on his motorcycle down to Baja and central Mexico.

Jeff Evans

Will he miss Oregon? The short answer: Yes.

“We have many friends we’ve made over the years here,” he says. “As it turns out, the best time of year to visit Oregon is the best time of year to be out of Arizona. I envision about this time every year loading up one of our vehicles with camping gear, heading to Southern California and driving up coast. We’ll hang out in Oregon until I see the first rain cloud, and get back to Arizona.”

It appears Evans is ready to grow new roots in the desert.

“I think Sedona is going to be our final stop — this place is perfect for us.”

Interested in a career with TriMet? Apply today!
Andrew Longeteig

Andrew Longeteig

I’m TriMet’s Communications Coordinator. I share what’s happening at the agency with the media and general public. When I’m not working, I’ll either be watching the Blazers or at a rock concert.

More Posts

Line 97 will connect Tualatin and Sherwood!

Our friends in Tualatin and Sherwood have no excuse NOT to get together more often. On June 6, we’ll unveil our newest bus service — Line 97-Tualatin-Sherwood Rd — the first direct transit connection between the two towns. All aboard!

Line 97 will help connect people to jobs, shopping, services and more in these two growing communities. It also provides an alternative to driving and will ease congestion along the Tualatin-Sherwood corridor.

5-31-16 Line 97 (3 of 4)
Line 97-Tualatin-Sherwood is our newest bus line and the first direct transit connection between Tualatin and Sherwood.

The nine-mile round-trip journey will run every 30 minutes during weekday commuting hours. The bus’ first stop of the day is Tualatin’s WES Commuter Rail station at 6:20 a.m. It will then travel through downtown Tualatin, past industrial areas, the Sherwood Market Center, Sherwood Plaza and the new Parkway Village before making a return trip.

Line 97 will also connect you to other TriMet service. In addition to WES, you can link up with other bus lines such as Line 76-Beaverton/Tualatin, which serves Tigard and Beaverton, as well as Line 96-Tualatin/I-5, which goes into Downtown Portland or south to Commerce Circle in Wilsonville. Near the Sherwood Plaza stop, you can also transfer to Line 93-Tigard/Sherwood or Line 94-Pacific Hwy/Sherwood.

5-31-16 Line 97 (4 of 4)
This new bus service runs every 30 minutes during the weekday commuting hours and between the Tualatin WES Station and the Sherwood Plaza.

This is just the beginning of expanded service in this area. In the future, we plan to extend Line 97 to Bridgeport Village, the 72nd Avenue employment area, the Tigard Triangle and into downtown Tigard.

We’re thrilled to bring this new service to these communities. It’s a big part of our goal to bring more buses and trains — and better overall service — to Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah counties.

Learn more about Line 97-Tualatin-Sherwood and sign up for email alerts

Andrew Longeteig

Andrew Longeteig

I’m TriMet’s Communications Coordinator. I share what’s happening at the agency with the media and general public. When I’m not working, I’ll either be watching the Blazers or at a rock concert.

More Posts

The TriMet Tickets app now connects you with more transportation options

A new feature is now included in your TriMet Tickets mobile app that allows you to easily connect with other transportation options nearby, including Lyft and car2go.

The idea is to keep you moving and help you connect to transit — sometimes you just need a ride that first mile to the station, or the last mile home from the bus stop. And in the future, we plan to add more services, such as BIKETOWN bike sharing.

How to use it

First, download the latest version of our TriMet Tickets app.

Then, tap the navigation drawer in the top-left corner of the screen and select “More Rides Nearby.” The transportation options closest to you will appear. Swipe left or right to toggle back and forth between the options.

More Rides Nearby

Finally, select your ride and you’re done! Easy, right?

Discounts during MAX disruptions May 8-21

With our 1st Avenue MAX Improvements project beginning this Sunday, May 8, the timing of this update couldn’t be better. For two weeks, MAX Blue, Green and Red lines will be disrupted and all MAX lines will run on reduced frequency. Fortunately, our friends at Lyft and car2go are providing discounts to riders through the TriMet Tickets app.

New Lyft users can enter code “FIRSTAVE” for $5 off their first 10 rides through the app. Existing users can enter code “LTMP16” for 20 percent off a Lyft ride. (The offer for current Lyft members is valid for the first 1,000 people who claim it — hurry up!)

Meanwhile, car2go is offering new members free registration and 15 minutes of drive time with promotion code “C2G15” (allow five to seven days for car2go membership activation). For existing car2go members, spend $100 in drive time in May 2016 and receive 20 minutes drive time for free. To redeem, email your membership information to portland@car2go.com.

More Lyft drivers and car2go vehicles will be positioned near high-traffic transit stations throughout the metro area to help you get where you need to go during this huge construction project.

We hope you can take advantage of these discounts during the service disruption. And we’d love to hear what you think about the new app feature! Drop us a line at trimet.org/feedback.

Download the latest version of the TriMet Tickets app here.

Andrew Longeteig

Andrew Longeteig

I’m TriMet’s Communications Coordinator. I share what’s happening at the agency with the media and general public. When I’m not working, I’ll either be watching the Blazers or at a rock concert.

More Posts

First batch of new buses take to the streets

3500 buses (4 of 7)

For the fifth year in a row, we’re getting new buses for our riders—making your trips more comfortable, safe and reliable. As part of our ongoing bus replacement program, we’re adding 77 new diesel-powered buses to our fleet over the next several months! (Cue the cartwheels and back flips.)

You might see one of these new 3500-series buses — 10 of them will be on city streets this week. In the next few months, five more buses will arrive every week from the Gillig factory in Hayward, Calif., as we gradually place them into service.

Once we receive them from the factory, it can take up to a month to get a bus road-ready. We need to install fare boxes, exterior mirrors and radio systems, check the engine and air systems, perform road tests, and get licenses and paperwork approved by DMV.

All 77 are expected to be rolling throughout the metro area by the end of May. They join the 249 other “new” buses we’ve put on the streets since 2012.

Outside of being shiny and new, you won’t notice any big differences compared to the buses we’ve purchased the past few years. Like their recent predecessors, they’ll all have air conditioning, automatic stop announcements, an upgraded dispatch system for improved customer information, easy-to-clean vinyl seats, anti-microbial interior surfaces and low floors (which makes it easier to board). In fact, all of our regular-service buses will have low floors by the end of 2017!

The new buses cost about $470,000 each. Most of them will be housed at the Center Street Garage in SE Portland.

Younger fleet

We began our bus replacement program in 2012. By summer, we’ll have 326 newer buses on the road. About two years ago, the average age of TriMet’s fleet was 12 years. Once all the 3500s are in the regular rotation this spring, we’ll be very close to the industry average of eight years (Woohoo!).

Some buses in our fleet, such as the series 2200, 2100 and 2000s, have been running since President Clinton’s first term. They’ll stick around a short while longer for backup.

What’s next

We’re not done upgrading our bus fleet. We plan to acquire 50 more in fiscal year 2017, 57 the next year and 70 the year after that. It’s part of our commitment to bring more service to you — and make sure you get to your destination safely and comfortably.

Want to drive a bus? We’re hiring bus operators!

Andrew Longeteig

Andrew Longeteig

I’m TriMet’s Communications Coordinator. I share what’s happening at the agency with the media and general public. When I’m not working, I’ll either be watching the Blazers or at a rock concert.

More Posts