Yesterday was a challenging day. Most of the light rail system and the streetcar lines were shut down during the morning commute after a “surge arrester” on the Steel Bridge shorted out and overloaded downtown substations.
We deployed bus shuttles to bridge the service disruption, but many riders arrived late to their destinations. This is not how your commute is supposed to be, particularly on a Monday morning. We all know that Mondays are tough enough and I can’t thank you enough for your patience through it all. Dependable and reliable service is what you should expect from us.
Our operators, field operations and customer service teams stepped up to minimize the disruption. I received a heartwarming call from a rider who is visually impaired. He wanted to recognize all of the TriMet supervisors and security personnel who assisted him when the system went down. He was thankful for those individuals who helped escort him from the MAX to his bus connection.
Our rail maintenance crews and engineers from the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project restored nearly all service except the segment over the Steel Bridge by 8:45 a.m. Service over the bridge was restored at 7 p.m.
We know that preventive maintenance is the key. We are learning a great deal from this incident and will look at how we can prevent something like this from happening in the future.
Reliability is also why I’ve accelerated bus replacement in the coming three budgets. Our bus fleet is too old and as a result has become less reliable for riders. Another 70 new buses are arriving this summer, 60 next year and another 60 the following year. By 2016, the average age of our fleet will be the industry recommended standard of eight years.
Additionally, TriMet will receive well-timed federal State of Good Repair funds this summer to support maintenance of our region’s first rail line, the Eastside MAX Blue Line, which opened in 1986. This is part of a larger effort we call “Renew the Blue,” which included a new station at Gresham’s Civic Drive and a rebuilt station in Rockwood, among other upgrades.
These investments should improve reliability for riders moving forward. In the meantime, we greatly appreciate your patience.