All posts by Roberta Altstadt

I’m TriMet’s public information officer. I communicate with the news media on all TriMet-related topics. When I’m not busy working, I like learning new skills, gardening, and going for walks with my sweet three-legged dog, Ernie.

Heads Up! Pause Your Play When Crossing Tracks and Streets

You see it wherever you go, whether you’re on MAX, a bus, or walking down the street: heads down, staring at a smartphone.

Or maybe you don’t see it because you’re also texting, checking email, scrolling through Facebook or liking pictures on Instagram. Last November, we released this close-call video, in which pedestrians wearing earbuds crossed right in front of a train, seemingly unaware. Now we’re releasing new videos we hope will get people’s attention to “pay attention” when crossing streets and tracks, and when biking as well.

Hold that thought

Hold That Thought

Before you take a look at those videos, stop and consider this: Have you ever bumped into something or someone because you were distracted by your phone? A study by the Pew Research Center found that 53 percent of all adult cell phone users have bumped into something or someone — or have been on the receiving end of a bump — due to distracted walking. Those in the 18-to-24 age range run into this problem even more, with 51 percent admitting to doing the bumping and 71 percent saying they’ve been the “bumpee.” It might look funny on YouTube when it involves a fountain — not so much when it involves a train or bus.

We’ve launched a new safety campaign encouraging people to Pause your play and Hold that thought when crossing train tracks or streets. (You may have noticed the signs on buses, trains and bus stops.) Whether listening to music, talking with a friend, texting or scanning your phone, take just a moment to pause the distraction and be aware of your surroundings before you go.

Stay Alert. Stay Alive.

Every day, bus and rail operators contend with distracted pedestrians and cyclists crossing against signals and showing a lack of awareness around their vehicles. While they do their part to operate our buses and trains safely, we need you to do your part too.

  • Stop, look up from devices and look both ways
  • Obey signals
  • Remove headphones or an earbud, or stop the conversation while crossing
  • Don’t run across, even if it means waiting for the next walk signal or catching the next bus or train
  • Make sure umbrellas, hoods and other apparel don’t block your view

Our cameras captured the following videos. These aren’t meant to shame anyone, but to show how dangerous a lack of awareness is. We want everyone to stay alert and stay alive.

Roberta Altstadt

Roberta Altstadt

I’m TriMet’s public information officer. I communicate with the news media on all TriMet-related topics. When I’m not busy working, I like learning new skills, gardening, and going for walks with my sweet three-legged dog, Ernie.

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“Santa Bob” steps down from his sleigh

Our very own “Santa Bob” has delighted riders for nearly 30 years as he maneuvered his sleigh—er—bus through the streets of Hillsboro, Beaverton and Portland. But before this holiday season begins, Santa Bob, aka Bob Foster, will be turning in the reins of his Line 88 bus.

“Santa Bob” retires

After 34 years of operating a TriMet bus, Bob is retiring. A few years into his job behind the wheel, Bob, who resembles the jolly old elf, began moonlighting as Santa for TriMet employees and families across the Portland metro area. TriMet riders also enjoyed their brush with Santa!

“Sometimes kids will say to their parents, ‘Look it’s Santa!’” says Bob. “That’s a tremendous responsibility, because you’re a walking billboard.”

With Bob retiring, will this be the year without a TriMet Santa?!? Kids of all ages: never fear, it’s a TriMet “Santa Exchange”!

Santa Mark takes the reins!

Santa Bob is handing the reins of his 40-foot diesel powered “sleigh” to Santa Mark. Mark Larson has been a TriMet bus operator for 25 years. For the last two to three years, some riders on the lines 54 and 56 that travel through Beaverton, Tigard and Portland, have been doing a double-take due to Mark’s resemblance to St. Nick.

“I get quite a few comments ranging from, ‘You look like Santa,’ ‘Have you ever thought about playing Santa?’ ‘Mom, he looks like Santa! I told you he was real!'” says Mark.

Santa Mark (left) is ready to take the reins from Santa Bob (right), whose last day on the job is November 20.

What does it take to be a TriMet Santa?

Being a TriMet Santa takes driving skill, great customer service, a Santa-like appearance and a degree in SantaClausology. Both men have attended the International University of Santa Claus.  Santa Mark has his Bachelor of SantaClausology; Santa Bob has his Master of SantaClausology and is working on a Doctorate.

Santa Mark knows he has some big boots to fill.

“I never wanted to replace Santa Bob—in fact, you can’t replace him!” says Mark.  “As to taking over as TriMet’s Santa? All I can say is HO, HO. HO. Who needs a ride?”

Follow Santa Bob on Facebook, and check out Santa Mark’s website.

Roberta Altstadt

Roberta Altstadt

I’m TriMet’s public information officer. I communicate with the news media on all TriMet-related topics. When I’m not busy working, I like learning new skills, gardening, and going for walks with my sweet three-legged dog, Ernie.

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Pardon our dust! Upgrades are coming to our oldest MAX stations

This spring and summer, you may have come across crews at MAX stations putting in underground cables to power TriMet’s future electronic fare (e-fare) system. Riders who use our oldest MAX stations will notice more construction coming soon—as we get to work on even more improvements to make your ride better.

Starting next week, we’re updating 14 stations from Hollywood/NE 42nd Ave Transit Center to Cleveland Ave in Gresham. These stations opened when we launched our first light rail line, the Eastside MAX Blue Line, in 1986.

E 172nd Ave Station is among the original Eastside MAX Blue Line stations, which opened on Sept. 5, 1986. The station and 13 others will get makeovers that include sleeker shelters, added lighting, a more open look and feel, and equipment for TriMet’s upcoming e-fare system.
E 172nd Ave Station is among the original Eastside MAX Blue Line stations, which opened on Sept. 5, 1986. The station and 13 others will get makeovers that include sleeker shelters, added lighting, a more open look and feel, and equipment for our upcoming e-fare system.

There’s lots of work to do:

  • Add more and brighter lighting
  • Upgrade security cameras to digital technology
  • Give platforms a more open look and feel
  • Update the design of shelters
  • Add digital information displays
  • Install cables and equipment for e-fare

The construction will take about five years and will be broken up into phases. We aim to do as much as possible in work zones, rather than closing the entire station, to make the work less of an inconvenience.

FutureStationDesign

The first phase will focus on platform entrances and getting the stations ready for e-fare. Crews will start working on Monday, August 17, at our Ruby Junction/E 197th Ave Station, and you’ll see workers soon after at our E 102nd Ave, 122nd Ave and 148th Ave stations.

Learn more about how we’re making transit better

Roberta Altstadt

Roberta Altstadt

I’m TriMet’s public information officer. I communicate with the news media on all TriMet-related topics. When I’m not busy working, I like learning new skills, gardening, and going for walks with my sweet three-legged dog, Ernie.

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Behind the scenes: filming TNT’s “Leverage” on TriMet

Roberta Altstadt is TriMet’s public information officer.

How do you transform the TriMet MAX system into a subway system? Well, it takes a lot of people and equipment, 80+ hours and special effects.

Screenshot: behind-the-scenes video of "Leverage" on TriMet
Watch behind-the-scenes video of “Leverage” on TriMet.

When a producer with the television show “Leverage” first approached me to do some filming on the MAX system, I had no idea what we were in for. The TNT show, which is filmed and set in Portland, was actually doing an episode where some of the characters were visiting Washington, D.C. (The episode is called “The Rundown Job.”) That meant the MAX system—which mainly runs above ground and is powered using overhead wires—needed to double as the underground, rail-powered subway system.

Aldis Hodge and Christian Kane
Aldis Hodge and Christian Kane in Robertson Tunnel. See more behind-the-scenes photos for “Leverage” filming on TriMet.
TM & © Turner Network Television. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Photographer: Erik Heinla.

The only real underground stretch of the MAX system is the Robertson Tunnel. With MAX trains running through the tunnel 20 hours or more a day, we could only give the “Leverage” crew a four-hour window in the middle of the night. Either they would need to shoot overnight for several days or we needed a plan B. That ended up being a maintenance bay in TriMet’s Ruby Junction Rail Operations Center.

See behind-the-scenes photos of “Leverage” filming on TriMet

The week of filming began with setup—hours and hours, days and days of it. Crews descended on our Ruby Junction facility in Gresham beginning on Tuesday. Each crew had a specialty. There was the electrical crew, the lighting crew, the audio crew, the rigging crew and the camera crew. Wave after wave came into the light rail maintenance bay with all their equipment and rigging. Green screens went up on the walls and tarps over the skylights to turn this room into a faux tunnel. The setup took several days and about 30 hours.

Beth Riesgraf and Director Dean Devlin
Beth Riesgraf receiving direction from Dean Devlin. See more behind-the-scenes photos for “Leverage” filming on TriMet.
TM & © Turner Network Television. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Photographer: Erik Heinla.

Over in Southwest Portland, the crews started showing up at TriMet’s Washington Park MAX station across from the Oregon Zoo about 6 a.m. on Thursday. They had to prep the area up top for a few scenes and 260 feet down on the platform, they had to transform Portland into D.C. TriMet and Portland-area signs and maps were covered with D.C. subway signs and D.C.-area maps. At one point I went down to check on things and found a man with his young son and a furrowed brow analyzing a map with stops like Potomac Ave. and Anacostia on it. “Sorry sir, we’re in Portland and that’s a map of D.C.” I explained. “I thought things looked a little off,” he replied.

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About 4 p.m., the filming up top began. Take after take of the same action. Then about 5 p.m. it was time to head back down to the platform. Some 75 crew members and actors were joined by about 200 extras. This posed some challenges since the MAX was still in service. I kept trying to divert riders to one section of the platform only to be told, “I’m an extra here for ‘Leverage.’” Wow, their extras really did look like TriMet commuters. The real riders passing through on the trains had to be surprised when they saw the packed platform and D.C. signs.

Ruby Junction with green screen
Ruby Junction with the green screen. See more behind-the-scenes photos for “Leverage” filming on TriMet.

At midnight, the filming began on the platform and then the last train rolled through westbound about 12:40 a.m. and the action began in earnest. The production had rented two MAX trains—one for the eastbound side and one for the westbound. They needed the timing of one train arriving on one side of the platform while the train on the other side was pulling away. With all the rehearsal that was done, crews were able to get those shots pretty quick and then it was time to climb down on the tracks and walk into the tunnel for more filming. It’s cold and dirty in there. Setup had to be quick since there was no way to have equipment staged ahead of time while the MAX trains were still running. Still, things went relatively “fast”. The filming finished earlier than planned and we walked out of the tunnel back to the platform about 4:30 a.m., a half hour before the first train of the day rolled through. Remember though, some of us had been there since 6 a.m.

Cast and crew
Cast and crew of “Leverage” on the Washington Park platform. See more behind-the-scenes photos for “Leverage” filming on TriMet.
TM & © Turner Network Television. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Photographer: Erik Heinla.

For me, it was home for a quick nap because by 3:30 p.m. I was at Ruby Junction in Gresham for the next night of filming. “Leverage” crews had been doing more setup for most of the day already. We moved the MAX train into the building. Many of us piled in along with cameras and monitors and the filming began. It was wild being inside at one end of the train with the action going on at the other end. Then came take after take. Actors talking with directors; producers talking with directors; actors talking with producers. Adjustments were made, coffee was drank, makeup reapplied and more filming. By 8 a.m., I was wondering out loud how much longer this could possibly go on. “That’s a wrap,” came about 8:45 a.m. Saturday morning.

Learn more about “Leverage” and when you can watch it

“The Rundown Job” aired nearly three months later. I was interested to see how they pieced the different scenes shot at different locations together. In all, the footage that took some 80+ hours of setup and filming whittled down to about six minutes and 15 seconds of the episode. In the end, the MAX system made its debut as a subway, I learned a lot about Hollywood-style filming and I got a pretty cool souvenir: a “D.C. subway” system map in TriMet colors.

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P.S. If you get a chance to watch the episode on rerun, take a hard look at the MAX train as it rolls into the tunnel. What’s missing? (Overhead wires)

The production company for “Leverage” reimbursed TriMet for all costs including staff time and use of TriMet facilities.

Roberta Altstadt

Roberta Altstadt

I’m TriMet’s public information officer. I communicate with the news media on all TriMet-related topics. When I’m not busy working, I like learning new skills, gardening, and going for walks with my sweet three-legged dog, Ernie.

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