All posts by 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.

How Transit Works in Snow and Ice

We’ve enjoyed a mild fall, with less precipitation than normal and plenty of sunshine.

That means we can expect a mellow winter, right?

We’re certainly not counting on it.

Over the years, we’ve learned that winter storms can appear out of nowhere. Of course, we monitor forecasts and share information with partners like PBOT and the National Weather Service to help us prepare for snow and ice. But weather isn’t always straightforward — and no two storms are the same — so we’re always at the ready with a plan.

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.

In practice, this means being ultra-aware of conditions across the system. To make this easier, we set up an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that’s staffed around the clock during severe winter weather events. Representatives from every division of the agency convene to track conditions and respond accordingly. This nimble structure streamlines and speeds 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.)

The Plan for Buses

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

Like other cars and trucks on the road, buses will often be chained if they’re running on snowy or icy streets. It takes a little under two minutes to install chains on each tire, and up to ten hours to chain all our buses. Depending on the forecast, we may chain just part of our fleet — if the weather suddenly improves, we need to be able to remove the chains quickly.

And if it gets really cold, buses will idle overnight to keep their engines warm and to prevent air systems from freezing. (Essential components like brakes, doors, wipers and starters are all air-operated.)

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 caps to keep ice at bay.

Some of our Type 1 MAX cars (the model with the stairs) have a special pantograph (the arm that connects the train to the overhead wire) equipped with an ice cutter that can shave about a millimeter of ice off the overhead wire with each pass. It doesn’t sound like much, but every little bit helps.

Recently, we installed a heating system on the overhead wires in the Ruby Junction rail yard as part of a pilot project to prevent ice buildup. If it works, we’ll consider using the technology throughout the system.

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!


We have a supply of ice melt on hand to keep walkways, platforms, stairs and transit centers walkable. (We use magnesium chloride, an environmentally friendly and biodegradable liquid.) If you find that your stop or station is dangerously slick, let us know. We’ll try to get someone there to help as quickly as possible.

This is common sense, but it’s worth repeating: If it’s snowing or icy, be very careful when you’re making your way to your stop or station. Even if a path looks clear, it can be slippery.

What You Need to Know

We often need to alter service in the face of unpredictable weather, so start by checking for updates on your lines: You’ll find service alerts and snow route updates at and on Twitter, or you can subscribe to email updates for the lines you ride. And if you have questions or comments, we’re available 24/7 to help.

We’ve already mentioned that your bus will likely be running late and a little slow — and perhaps on a snow route — 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.

When you’re ready to catch the bus, keep in mind that it it can’t safely stop on a slope — so if your stop is on a hill, head to the top or bottom to board. And wait on the sidewalk until the bus comes to a complete stop before trying to board. There’s always a chance it could slide toward the curb once the brakes have locked the wheels.

Aside from checking the status of your bus or train 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. Along with our regional partners, we do our best to de-ice roads, bridges, garages, platforms and parking lots, but you’ll likely find some slippery spots along the way.

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 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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How to Get to ZooLights

ZooLights, Oregon Zoo’s annual winter festival, attracts crowds in the thousands every night. and there’s simply no way Washington Park’s parking lots can fit that many cars. And if you’re planning to visit on a weekend, you’re not likely to find a spot without circling for half an hour. Or more.

Take MAX, if you can

Fortunately, the Washington Park MAX Station is located right across from the zoo’s entrance, with Blue and Red Line trains arriving frequently throughout the evening.

Plan a trip to Washington Park

Park and ride

If you don’t live near a MAX line, don’t worry. The Sunset Transit Center Park & Ride has more than 600 parking spaces, and it’s just one MAX stop west of the zoo. Plus it’s free.

If you’re going by bike, you can skip the steep climb by locking up downtown and hopping on MAX.

Take transit and save
When you take transit to ZooLights, you’ll save up to $5 on each admission — just show your valid fare at the gate. If you’re already an Oregon Zoo member, show your fare at the gate and you can bring in one friend or family member free of charge.


Taking Lyft or Uber is a lot pricier than taking the train, but you won’t have to worry about parking. There’s a designated ridesharing area just down the hill from the zoo’s main entrance.

Get a Lyft promo code from Explore Washington Park

Get dropped off

There’s a drop-off zone in front of the Zoo Education Center. When the main lot is full, dropping off is your only option.


Leave early, if you can. The main parking lot tends to fill by 4:30 p.m. on days when school is out, and the Sylvan overflow by 6 p.m. There’s a shuttle that runs from the overflow lot to the zoo entrance. Parking in the main lot is $8 during ZooLights.

Don’t miss out on tips for getting to popular events around town! 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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This Bus Platform Has Room for Bikes, Pedestrians and More

Last week, we tested a full-scale model of a new type of bus platform; one that accommodates bikes, pedestrians and 60-foot articulated buses.

We expect to have these extra-long buses running along Division Street, between Gresham and Downtown Portland, as soon as 2022. For this test, we borrowed a Vine bus from our friends at C-TRAN.

The purpose of the platform is to allow buses to stop without having to pull over (and cross a bike lane) to the curb. So it’s designed to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and scooter-ers who are passing through — as well as bus riders who are waiting, boarding or disembarking. (People on bikes and scooters are required to stop when the bus pulls up to let riders on and off.)

The test involved people using the platform in different scenarios while technical experts, transportation advocates and accessibility advisors observed. The adjustable platform allowed us to test two- and four-foot “step-outs,” the space between the bus and bike lane. We also tested wayfinding signs that instructed bike and scooter riders to stop and wait for people to get on and off the bus.

The next step is to integrate the feedback from the test into the design for the 30 platform stations we want to install in East Portland.

Want to keep up with the Division Transit Project? Visit

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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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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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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You Can Now Get Help on Twitter Every Day of the Week

That’s right. We’re now on Twitter from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., seven days a week at @trimethelp.

We’ll still use @trimet for service alerts, information and promos, just like normal. We added the new handle so we could interact with riders and respond to more of your questions, comments, complaints and commendations. We can even help you plan a trip!

We’re also happy to announce that if you need Hop support, we’ve got you covered at @myhopcard.

(Note that Twitter still isn’t the place to report emergencies — tell your operator or call or text 911 if you need to report a dangerous situation, crime or suspicious activity.)

We won’t pretend this isn’t long overdue — but there’s no denying that it’s a huge step in the right direction. @ us if you agree.

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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Our Year in Review: 2017

How do we summarize a year like this?

Normally, we’d share some facts and figures describing what we accomplished and the challenges we faced. But 2017 wasn’t so straightforward.

Looking back, we’re happy to say that we made some huge strides that included introducing a new fare system and upgrading some of the oldest parts of the MAX system. But we were also tested in ways we never expected, and in the end it was the strength of our community that got us through. Now we’re entering 2018 with a strong sense of who we are and where we’re going.

A snowy start

We began the year in the middle of an epic winter. Temperatures didn’t rise above freezing for a week after a huge January storm and the resulting blanket of snow and ice made getting around extremely difficult.

Snow in January

Keeping our buses and trains moving throughout the winter’s record snowfall required extraordinary effort — and extraordinary patience from our riders (thank you!). When the going got tough, your positive attitude and understanding helped push us through.

Going into this winter, we’re keeping in mind something we noted back in January: Be prepared for the next big storm, because it could come as soon as tomorrow.

Making MAX better

Spring arrived not a moment too soon. We had been looking forward the year’s big MAX project, which involved improving the tracks along Morrison and Yamhill streets in Downtown Portland.

As eager as we were to start the work, we were also anxious about asking commuters to adjust their schedule for three full weeks. We knew that having a smoother and more reliable ride would make it worth it in the end, but that would require lots of trust and cooperation. Looking back, our riders deserve all the credit in the world for stepping up and working with us — the days flew by and the project was completed on schedule.

We did some work on some of our other MAX stations this year, too. At Gresham City Hall, we renovated the shelters, installed arrival monitors and made safety and security upgrades. Over on the other side of town, we gave the Washington Park station a stunning (and much-needed) makeover, just in time for the annual ZooLights crowd.

Heartbreak at Hollywood

Just a week after the MAX improvements were completed, everything changed. On the afternoon of May 26, two young riders were harassed on board a train near Hollywood Transit Center. Three men intervened and were attacked — two of them, Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, were killed.

Our whole community was left reeling, and in many ways we still haven’t recovered.

Just as that memory will always be with us, we’ll also remember what happened in its wake. In the moments, days and weeks after the attacks, when the hurt was rawest, people came together and created something beautiful. Candlelight vigils were held, moments of silence were observed and helping hands were extended. The concrete walls of the Hollywood station were transformed by bouquets of flowers and thousands of messages left in chalk — the site of horrible tragedy became an overwhelming and unforgettable expression of love, unity and hope.

Though it was temporary by nature, that spontaneous memorial will live on. We’re planning a mural that will cover the ramp walls at the transit center, inspired by the chalk messages that have since washed away.

Adding some color

Our plans for public art didn’t end there. This year, we commissioned two expansive murals by Portland-based artists at MAX stations along the Banfield.

Daniel Duford’s mural, titled “The Green Man and the Cinder Cones,” tells the supernatural origin story of the landscape surrounding the NE 60th Ave station.

One stop east, at NE 82nd Ave, Alex Chiu’s “How They Grow” is a colorful celebration of family and community. Chiu’s three-year-old daughter, Mazzy, is featured in panels throughout the mural.

A new way to pay

When Hop Fastpass was released in July, we felt a wave of relief — but in many ways the adventure was just beginning. We had been dreaming up and developing our new electronic fare system for years alongside our partners at C-TRAN and Portland Streetcar, and we knew what we came up with was both rider-friendly and thoroughly modern.

But convincing tens of thousands of people to ditch their routine, whether they like to pay with paper tickets or use the TriMet Tickets app, is no simple task.

Luckily, Hop has benefits that sell themselves, like automatic reloading and caps on daily and monthly fares. New features have been added regularly, too, like the ability to pay with a mobile wallet or soon, the ability to use a virtual card in Android Pay (we’re the first transit provider in the world to do this). We also worked to make cards easily available from popular retailers like Fred Meyer and New Seasons along with ultra-convenient stores like Plaid Pantry. And it’s working: We’re seeing more and more taps every day, and the feedback we’ve received has been positive.

Keep Oregon Moving

This summer, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2017, also known as Keep Oregon Moving. This landmark package established statewide funding for transit — for the first time ever. It’s hard to overstate how significant this is for us, especially as we look for ways to serve our ever-growing region. We can’t thank Oregon lawmakers and Governor Kate Brown enough for their leadership, which will make transit even more accessible and put more service on the streets.

We expect to receive about $35–40 million annually through the bill’s employee payroll tax. A sum that large naturally raises the question: What are we going to do with it? Fortunately for us, we had a plan ready.

Starting next summer, we’ll launch a new low-income fare program that will make adults at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level eligible for half-price fare. This is something we’ve wanted to offer for a long time, and the new funding will make it possible.

The money will also go toward adding bus service. Over the last few years, we’ve worked with riders, businesses, cities and counties to identify the transit needs, wants and wishes for communities throughout the region. Now we’ll be able to provide more and better service quicker than we expected, with a focus on establishing more equitable service first.

After such a wild year, it’s good to know there’s so much to look forward to. Thanks for everything you shared with us in 2017 — whether it was your time, your support or your feedback — we truly appreciated it. We’ll see you on board in 2018.

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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Driving a Bus Is Just One of This Operator’s Many Talents

Looking back on the last 41 years, you get the feeling there’s nothing bus driver Cindy Kassab can’t do — only things she hasn’t done yet.

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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Check Out the Course at the 2017 Bus Roadeo

In retrospect, last year’s Roadeo was a walk in the park.

This time around, the competition featured new and additional challenges, like backing the 40-foot bus into an extremely tight space — twice. The course was harder and the stakes were higher, as this year’s top driver will get a trip to the national competition in Florida next May.

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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Thanks to New Funds, Transit Is About to Get a Lot Better

For the first time ever, the Oregon Legislature has established statewide funding for general transit service.

This is huge, exciting news.

House Bill 2017 is a $5.3 billion package for improvements in Oregon’s transportation systems. It includes a new employee payroll tax specifically for transit, which will benefit public transportation throughout the state. We expect TriMet’s share to amount to about $35–$40 million annually, with funds becoming available in January 2019.

With a growing population and increasing congestion in the metro area — and with our most popular routes running at capacity — it’s easy to make the case for investments in more and better transit. Still, a new tax can be hard to swallow, so let’s go over some facts about how this will work and what we’ll do with the funds:

A low-income fare

We’re thrilled to be able to implement the low-income fare program we’ve been considering for the last year. This could mean half-price fares for individuals and families below 200% of the federal poverty level. (Based on 2017 guidelines, this would be available to individuals with an annual income up to $24,120 or a family of four with an annual income up to $49,000.)

This is a top priority because we believe everyone should be able to count on transit to connect them to jobs, services, school and appointments — regardless of how much money they make. Thanks to this new funding, we’ll soon be a lot closer to that vision.

More equitable service

We’ll also use the money to expand service to low-income communities. By extending bus routes and increasing frequency in these areas, we’ll provide better connections to employment, services and recreation. We believe that access to transit is access to opportunity.

Addressing congestion

Finally, we’ll prioritize adding bus service to the busiest corridors in the area. This funding will go a long way toward helping us keep up with the increasing demand for transit — especially in quickly growing communities. More than anything, we know that riders want more frequent service.

About that tax…

The bill was passed easily, and with more bipartisan support than predicted — highlighting Oregon’s urgent need for better transportation. And with the payroll tax portion of the bill come a few stipulations:

  • Employers are responsible for deducting the tax of one-tenth of one percent from an employee’s wages
  • The funds will be dedicated to public transit
  • The funds cannot be used for salary or benefit increases
  • The funds cannot be used for new light rail projects
  • Oregon’s larger transit agencies must report on progress toward the purchase of natural gas, propane and/or electric buses

What’s next

Elements of the bill Governor Kate Brown signed today, like the payroll tax, will go into effect July 1, 2018. We expect the transit funds to become available around January 2019.

As we noted above, we already have a blueprint for the low-income fare program. We also have plans for the bus service we’d like to add — these were developed over years with the help of riders, residents, neighborhood groups, governments, schools and businesses. Basically, we’re ready to begin putting the money to good use right away.

This couldn’t have happened without you

Your support has been critical to making this new legislation happen. By taking the bus or train, and especially by emailing, texting or sharing your thoughts with legislators in-person, you made the case for why transit works. We can’t thank you enough, and we can’t wait to bring you more and better service.

Want to stay in the loop about the transit improvements we make? Sign up for  Riders Club emails.

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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