All posts by TriMet Staff

More service improvements are on the way

TriMet riders exiting bus

UPDATE: Bus and MAX service improvements took effect August 31, 2014. Check the new schedules to see if your trips are affected.

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to say this: We’re increasing service again.

After several long years of service cuts and fare increases caused by the Great Recession, we are finally able to add more service.

This summer and fall, you can expect more Frequent Service, more new buses, better schedule reliability and less crowding:

  • More Frequent Service: This September, we’re adding weekday evening trips on our Frequent Service bus lines and MAX to restore 15-minute (or better) frequency into the evening hours. That’s good news if you ride Lines 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 14, 15, 33, 54, 56, 57 or 75. MAX Green Line will also run every 15 minutes or better into the evening hours.
  • Less crowding: Also in September, we’re adding more buses to Lines 4, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 33, 44, 76, 94 and 99 to relieve overcrowding.
  • Better schedule reliability: Schedules are changing on Line 71 (in June), Lines 20 and 87 (in September), and Lines 19, 22, 48 and 72 (in December) to better match schedules to traffic conditions and ridership.
  • More new buses: 90 new buses are joining the fleet in 2014, for a total of 249 buses replaced since 2012.
  • MAX reliability and safety: Over the next year, we’re investing in much-needed signal, track and switch improvements throughout the MAX system to improve reliability and on-time performance. 

We know riders want more and better service, and we’re excited to be in a position to grow the system again. These improvements should help reduce wait times, improve connections and give you a more comfortable ride.

Be sure to sign up for email updates for the lines you ride to get all the details about the upcoming changes.

Note: These improvements are part of our Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which assumes that the economy continues to improve and that the financial equivalent of TriMet’s labor contract proposal is accepted.

Meet our 2014 Operators of the Year!

Newly crowned 2014 Bus Operator of the Year Andy Church (left), MAX Operator of the Year Jason Wang (second from right) and Mini-Run/Part-Time Operator of the Year Fernando Lopez (right). These are some of TriMet’s finest!

At a ceremony on Tuesday, three TriMet operators were recognized as the 2014 Operators of the Year. Operators qualify for the annual award based on outstanding driving records, customer service and attendance, and the winners are selected by their peers.

Bus Operator of the Year: Andy Church

Andy ChurchDuring his 11 years of driving, Operator Andy Church has earned nine National Safe Driving Awards, nine Superior Performance Awards and four years of perfect attendance.

Andy, who lives in Damascus, has qualified a number of times for Operator of the Month as well as Mini-Run of the Quarter when he was a part-time bus operator. He’s an “extra board” operator, which means he fills in for other operator shifts.

Andy has received many commendations from riders that highlight his kindness and helpfulness to his riders. His manager, Lyle Pereira, noted that Andy “has a great attitude, which is not always easy, but for him, it just comes natural.”

MAX Operator of the Year: Jason Wang

Jason WangJason Wang is our newest MAX Operator of the Year. The Lake Oswego resident started driving a bus for TriMet in 2000, and switched to MAX in 2007.

Jason is a high performer who has consistently qualified for operator recognition both as a bus operator and MAX operator.

He’s a Master Operator and has 12 Superior Performance Awards. TriMet’s Master Operator Program recognizes bus and rail operators who achieve overall excellence in safety, customer service and attendance.

You might see Jason up in the cab next time you ride a Red Line or Blue Line train.

Mini-Run/Part-Time Operator of the Year: Fernando Lopez

Fernando LopezMini-Run Operator of the Year Fernando Lopez has been driving for TriMet since 2003.

As a part-time or “mini-run” operator, Fernando has received eight Safe Driving Awards, which means he’s driven eight years without a preventable accident. He’s earned a 100 percent Customer Satisfaction Award and has had perfect attendance for the past eight years.

Fernando was also Mini-Run Operator of the Quarter back in 2009. Because of his long record of safety, good customer service and attendance, he’s qualified for that title for two-thirds of his 11-year career.

Fernando lives in Beaverton and he drives one of the busiest lines in our system: the 57-TV Hwy/Forest Grove.


Congratulations Andy, Jason and Fernando!

WEIGH IN: Discuss this post on Facebook

My quest to ride every single MAX car

Dan Delany and his son on board car 107 in TriMet's maintenance shop.
For the conclusion of Dan Delany’s quest to ride every MAX car, Dan and his son came to TriMet’s Ruby Junction maintenance facility, where the elusive car 107 was in for repairs.

My name is Dan Delany, and I have been on every MAX car.

Like many people, I commute on the MAX trains from outside the city to work in downtown Portland every day. After riding for a few months, I started noticing the car numbers and wondering if I had seen all of the cars. I looked on Wikipedia and learned that there are 127 MAX cars, which made riding all of them seem like an achievable goal.

Once that thought was in my head, at the beginning of August I set out to ride every car. My rules were simple: it only counted if I rode the car at least one stop. Just seeing a car didn’t count; I had to actually ride it. (I did make one exception to this rule at the very end.) Some of my co-workers started to play along too. Our office manager particularly enjoyed letting me know when she rode a car that I still needed to ride.

I never went out with the specific goal of riding MAX cars; I just kept track of cars that I rode when I was riding MAX as part of my routine.

I started posting on Twitter about my project, and @trimet occasionally responded to my tweets with encouraging responses. When I got down to around 10 cars left, I started to be very aware of the cars that I hadn’t yet been on. Car 320 proved to be my nemesis for a while. I kept on seeing it when I was out and about but didn’t get to ride it. I saw it when I was driving in my car. I saw it on other trains while I was riding MAX trains. Once I saw it when I was waiting for my lunch at a food truck downtown. 320 was even in the news after an accident in November.

When I got down to 5 cars remaining, I started putting the list of remaining cars into my tweets, and @trimet told me at one point that one of my remaining cars was in the shop. It was a small effort on their part, but I appreciate that they played along with my goofy little project.

I rode 320 on January 2, just a few weeks after @trimet let me know that it was still out there. 320 was a bit of an event for me. My MAX stop is out near the end of the Blue Line, and when I arrived at the station that morning, 320 was going by on a train headed away from downtown, towards the end of the line. I had some time that morning, so I waited for it to go to the end of the line and come back. It took less than an hour.

As it turned out, I didn’t need to do that. 320 was the car that took me home on Thursday, February 6, the day that Portland’s big snowstorm really kicked in.

I still hadn’t seen 107, but @trimet stepped up and helped me out. On February 14, my son and I went on a tour of the MAX repair facility at Ruby Junction, and we got to see and board car 107 in the shop. Sure, it wasn’t moving, but going on a shop tour made up for that in a big way.

Thank you TriMet for playing along with my project and giving my son and I a fun daddy-son adventure!


About the author: Dan Delany is an engineer at New Relic, a software company downtown.  He tries to drive his car as little as possible.

Mid-day riders: More frequent buses are headed your way!

Frequent Service

Here’s some good news: Starting Monday, March 3, buses on 10 of our popular Frequent Service lines will come more frequently during the day. Thanks to an improving budget outlook, we are now able to add 15-minute service—which had been cut over the last few years due to the recession—during mid-day hours on weekdays.

Buses will arrive every 15 minutes during the day on the following lines:

  • 6-Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
  • 8-Jackson Park/NE 15th
  • 9-Powell Blvd
  • 12-Barbur/Sandy Blvd
  • 14-Hawthorne
  • 15-Belmont/NW 23rd
  • 33-McLoughlin
  • 54-Beaverton/Hillsdale Hwy/56-Scholls Ferry Rd
  • 57-TV Hwy/Forest Grove
  • 75-Cesar Chavez/Lombard

We’re also adding more buses on Line 4-Fessenden/Division during weekday evenings and all day on Saturdays.

This means less waiting, shorter travel times and better connections. Plus, when buses come more often, you have a bit more flexibility in your schedule (and a better chance of getting a seat). Many of our mid-day riders depend solely on transit to get around, so we know that better frequency makes a big difference.

This is just the first step toward restoring our Frequent Service network. It will probably take a year or two to get back to 15-minute service (or better) all day, every day—meaning evenings and weekends, too—but that’s our goal.

We’d love to hear how this change affects you. And as always, we welcome your comments and suggestions about your trips on TriMet. Thanks for riding, and we’ll see you on board!

Preview the new schedules effective March 3

WEIGH IN: Discuss this post on Facebook

Otak designer finds “Katie Time” on TriMet

Katie Kersten, Otak

About the author: Katie Kersten is a senior graphic designer who has been working at Otak, Inc., for 18 years. She volunteers with EarthShare of Oregon and is on the board of directors for Third Rail Repertory Theatre. Katie has a passion for incorporating sustainable practices into her work and personal life. She lived in Portland for 22 years and moved to Sherwood in 2011. 

My office used to be located in Lake Oswego. Every workday I drove 14 miles round-trip from Sherwood to Lake Oswego. When my firm relocated to downtown Portland in May, my commute grew to 34 miles.

After figuring out that driving would cost around $15 per day for parking, gas, car maintenance, and depreciation, I decided my best option would be public transportation. A monthly transit pass would only cost about $5 per day, and my employer began offering a monthly transit stipend that covers the cost of the pass.

I believe that your attitude helps create your experience, and I have found many ways to enjoy my new commute.

During the past few months I’ve become a more transit-savvy rider, thanks in part to the many useful smartphone apps that have guided me. I’ve even incorporated MAX and WES into various trips.

I’ve recently integrated my workout studio into my commute without missing a beat. When my parents visit from out of town, they take the MAX from the airport to meet me downtown. This is always a fun experience for them. They are also able to have some similar experiences as I do when taking public transportation.

I’ve learned to think of my commute time as “Katie Time.” I read. I listen to podcasts, audio books, and music. I catch up with friends, family, and colleagues via email and social media. And I do research while I ride. People watching can be very entertaining, as well!

I believe that your attitude helps create your experience, and I have found many ways to enjoy my new commute.

Fun fact: Katie’s employer, Otak, Inc., recently achieved Gold Certification through the City of Portland’s Sustainability at Work program by dramatically increasing employee alternate modes of transportation! Learn more about TriMet’s pass programs for employers

Transit apps are plentiful in Portland, thanks to TriMet’s open data

John McBride's was one of the first browser-based transit apps developed using TriMet's open data.
In 2008, John McBride developed, one of the first browser-based transit apps to use TriMet’s open data.

We’re lucky to live in Portland.

Someone at TriMet had the foresight eight years ago to realize that most of us would become umbilically connected to our smartphones… And that there was a whole community of open source developers here in the Portland area willing and able to “show off their stuff” by developing useful applications using data supplied by TriMet… And that these developers would do the work for free! Amazing.

How could they have known?

I have no idea, but the results were astounding. Rather than paying in-house developers, or hiring expensive consultants to develop apps, TriMet simply made its schedule and arrival data available to anyone willing to sign up. The developers did the rest, pretty much on their own, with occasional support for the folks at TriMet.

I shudder to think how much it would have cost TriMet to develop nearly 60 unique transit applications. In fact, I don’t think TriMet could have purchased the kind of creativity exhibited in these apps at any price. There’s a difference between work done for money and work done for love. And trust me, these developers work because they love what they do.

When I developed, my objective was to create something simple and reliable just for me. Lots of other folks use it, but it was created for my particular commuting situation.

Each new app builds on existing ideas. That’s the beauty of open source development: Developers share ideas. The focus is on the end product.

Fast-forward 5 years. I still use my app at least twice a day, both on my desktop and my iPhone. But in all candor, my app was quickly eclipsed by other developers going beyond simple arrival information. Each new app builds on existing ideas. That’s the beauty of open source development: Developers share ideas. The focus is on the end product.

I attended the INIT TriMet Open Data Series last Wednesday and learned about all kinds of cool things that might happen as a result of TriMet’s recent upgrade to INIT equipment (for tracking its fleet of buses). For example, we may soon see apps that:

  • tell riders how full the arriving bus is and perhaps advise them to wait for the next bus
  • tell riders a bus is going to skip a stop because it’s full
  • give riders historical arrival information for a given stop so they can choose which stops to use

I’m sure we’re going to see lots of new map functionality, too, including animated buses moving on a map. And of course, there will be lots of things I can’t even imagine right now.

During the meeting, a representative from INIT added that if a bus has a sensor, they can make the data available. That’s when the brainstorming started… A sensor for bike rack availability? A sensor that tells riders the temperature inside the bus? Crowdsourcing data? Imagine being able to tweet your fellow passengers! Oh boy. Let me have at it.

The sky’s the limit!

Like I said, we’re lucky to live in Portland.

About the author: John McBride is a Portland area resident and daily TriMet commuter who has been living here almost 18 years.  Being a New York City transplant, he knows a thing or two about mass transit.  John describes himself as a compulsive hacker whose daytime job is crunching numbers for the planning department of a local credit union. He’ll tell you he loves all things “tech”—especially things with bright colors and blinking lights. John developed, one of the first browser-based transit apps in Portland and winner of the CivicApps for Greater Portland for “Most Useful App.” 

Revered MAX operator Kerry Tweed says goodbye after 33 years

On Kerry's last day in the operating seat, appreciative Green Line customers approached him at the end of the line to thank him for his years of service. Friday, August 23rd, was his last day operating a train.
On Kerry Tweed’s last day in the operator’s seat, appreciative Green Line customers approached him at the end of the line to thank him for his years of service.

Last month, we said a bittersweet goodbye to MAX Operator Kerry Tweed, who retired after 33 years.

Kerry is well known by riders for his informative and entertaining announcements. Announcements crossing the Steel Bridge are common, and often necessary, but Kerry’s are uniquely pleasing and neighborly, reporting the weather forecast and updating passengers on sports scores.

Kerry started out as a part-time bus operator while studying to be a pastor, and his general friendliness over the years has made a lasting impression on his riders.

Operator Tweed always made an effort to remember the names of his regular riders and the workers at the coffee shops where he takes his breaks.

“There’s an old pastor’s trick for remembering names,” he says. “Write them down on a little card when you meet them.” And that’s exactly what he did. On his visibly worn out “paddle” (a paper that details the route and schedule) were dozens of scribbled names of the riders he wanted to remember.

Kerry, proudly displaying his tattered "paddle," filled with all the names of his rider friends.
Kerry, proudly displaying his tattered “paddle,” filled with all the names of his rider friends.

Over the years, many riders have called and emailed to say how much they appreciate the smooth, safe ride they get from Kerry—especially making note of the special touch he brings with his announcements. Recently, a Green Line customer said:

“His sharing of the weather report as we go over the Steel Bridge is the best. It makes the commute a fun experience, gets people talking to one another on the train, and makes me love commuting. Great job, Kerry. You make my day!”

On his last day at the controls, Kerry’s announcements veered off script. He announced the time, the weather forecast, and the latest sports score as usual. And then he added, “Sometimes I have to pinch myself to believe it; they’re actually paying me to bring you joy. You rock! Thank you for being such good passengers, great passengers. This is my last day; 33 years and I’ll turn in my keys at the end of the day. So thank you for being so wonderful. God bless you all.”

Listen to Kerry’s final announcement:

We will miss you, Kerry, and your unique daily announcements. We can only hope that other operators take notes from you. Thank you for being such a great operator and going above and beyond the call of duty. You rock!

This blog post was written by public affairs intern Claire Ion. Claire is a recent graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, and she is seeking a career in public relations.   

The freedom of riding transit (my TriMet story)

About the author: Valerie Chapman lives in Oak Grove, an unincorporated area in Clackamas County. She has volunteered on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project Citizens Advisory Committee since 2008.

I began riding the bus regularly ten years ago. Of course, I took the Rose City bus many years ago when I was a student at Portland State University, but that was because my dad wouldn’t let me buy a car. I wanted the freedom of a car and eventually I bought one. Little did I know that one day, I would want the freedom of riding the bus!

Valerie Chapman
Valerie prefers the convenience of not driving.

When I made the switch as an adult it was because I wanted to simplify my lifestyle. I hated the rush-rush of traffic, the endless circling to find a parking spot, and the fast pace that driving seemed to bring with it. There was also the cost of gas and parking and concern for the environment that was growing.

One day I just decided that it would be possible to take the bus one day a week. I really felt nervous at first. I was 53 years old and out of the mass transportation loop. But I saw other people, older than me, hopping on and off buses near the church where I work. If they could do it, surely I could.

The first time I rode I was very concerned about having exactly the right change. I had never purchased tickets in advance, and I didn’t know much about bus passes except that some people were able to just get on the bus and flash a card at the driver. They seemed very bus savvy to me. I picked up bus schedules from the racks that used to be right behind the driver for every bus that I frequented, and I had a lot of angst about missing a bus, doing the wrong thing or worse, getting on the wrong bus. But I quickly discovered that the system was designed to help people ride with ease.

I saw lots of interesting people and talked to many of them. The drivers were quick to answer my questions and I soon learned when my stops were coming up and how to request a stop at night. After the first few weeks of riding the bus once a week, I discovered that I wanted to ride more often. Even though I had been driving back and forth to work for years, I realized that I had missed seeing most of what I drove by.

Valerie Chapman
Valerie likes to talk or read or people-watch on the way.

With someone else focused on the driving, I was able to look out the window and actually notice the neighborhoods I was passing through. I discovered new restaurants and interesting shops that I had not known about. I also enjoyed the changing of the seasons in a different way. On the bus I did not have to worry about pouring rain on the windshield or be afraid to drive on snowy roads.

Within a few months I was buying a monthly pass or packets of tickets. I found that I was riding the bus much more often than I was driving and I really felt good about it. I branched out and rode a MAX line, and began to travel to different parts of the metro area after work hours. All day passes and quick tickets are making trips easier still. And I no longer have to carry around bunches of bus schedules. I can text the bus from my house to see when it is coming and plan adventures around town ahead of time on the computer or from a mobile phone. Just recently, when I had to go to Wilsonville, I went online to TriMet in the hope that I would not have to make that awful drive during the morning rush hour. To my delight, I was able to make the whole trip by bus.

I enjoy the TriMet system. I prefer the convenience of not driving. My husband and I love to walk from our house to the corner of Park Avenue where we catch the #33 bus in to SE Clay Street. There we can transfer to the Central Loop (CL) streetcar. Downtown we transfer to the North South (NS) streetcar going west to 23rd Avenue. That drops us at our favorite restaurant. (I am not telling!) The whole trip is an adventure. We can talk or read or people-watch on the way. And after a great meal, we don’t have to worry about driving back in the dark.

I am looking forward to new adventures when the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Line opens in 2015.

Thanks for listening. Hope to meet you on transit!

 TALK ABOUT IT: Discuss this post on Facebook

Where’s Waldo starting his 100th birthday celebration? On TriMet!

We joined forces with the Holst family to throw Waldo Johnson a surprise 100th birthday party onboard the line 77.
We joined forces with the Holst family to throw rider Waldo Johnson a surprise 100th birthday party on the Line 77.

Waldo Johnson will soon celebrate a birthday few of us reach—he’s turning 100 years old! TriMet and some of Waldo’s closest friends got the celebration started with a surprise party on a bus this morning.

The Line 77 bus pulled up to pick up Waldo at his regular stop on NE Halsey with “HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY, WALDO!” in bright, bold letters on the overhead sign. Waldo’s lost most of his vision to macular degeneration so he couldn’t make out the sign but he couldn’t miss the round of applause and a roaring rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” sung by fellow riders, friends and TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane when he boarded.

“What a WONDERFUL surprise. Everybody is so nice,” said Waldo.

Born in 1913, Waldo’s 100th birthday is July 16, a birthday shared just by chance with the woman behind the wheel of the bus on Friday, Luerine Jackson, a 27-year TriMet bus operator.

“What a WONDERFUL surprise. Everybody is so nice.”

Centenarian Waldo Johnson during his birthday surprise on Line 77.
Centenarian Waldo Johnson during his birthday surprise on Line 77

Waldo will be out of town on his actual birthday, celebrating with his younger sister and brother who are both in their 90s and going strong. He was born in McCool Junction, Nebraska, but has lived in Portland the majority of his life, more than 74 years.

Waldo has ridden TriMet for decades. He and his late wife, Ellen, had only one car, so he’s been using transit in Portland since before TriMet…since the first streetcar era, in fact. As he’s lost more and more of his vision, he’s relied more and more on TriMet.

He rides the 77 to church, not just for Sunday services, but also to volunteer in the Meals on Wheels program serving a hot lunch to seniors. Other days he takes the 77 bus and transfers to the MAX to visit his close friend Jim Holst in Downtown Portland.

Waldo Johnson and his close friend, Jim Holst
Waldo Johnson and his close friend, Jim Holst

Waldo and Jim met through Holst’s work as a financial advisor, but they have become family to each other. Waldo spends every Christmas and Easter with the Holst family. Jim and Kathie’s children have known Waldo all their lives. In fact, their daughter just celebrated turning 16 at a joint birthday party with Waldo.

“He’s 100 years old and busier than I am,” says Jim. “It is because of TriMet that he can do what he does.”

Besides his volunteer work with Meals on Wheels, Waldo is active in Habitat for Humanity.

Waldo Johnson's birthday bus
Waldo Johnson’s birthday bus

Debbie Rehn, the office manager at his church, says, “Waldo’s always been a builder, and he still is. He built a stepstool so the kids can get to the water fountain, a lectern for the Sunday school room, and two beautiful signs.”

TriMet’s General Manager McFarlane presented Waldo with a few tokens of our appreciation for being a dedicated rider, including a “How We Roll” t-shirt and a lifetime pass.

“I can’t wait to use my lifetime pass and I loved the birthday bus!” he says.

How I made one of the top iPhone transit apps in Portland

About the author: Andrew Wallace is a local software developer who created one of the most popular transit apps in Portland. Originally from Kent, England, he now lives in Southwest Portland.

To this day, I am still a bit surprised to learn PDX Bus gets downloaded some 40,000 times whenever there’s a new version. I created this app in 2008 simply to help my own commute home each night from Intel in Hillsboro.

PDX Bus Developer Andrew Wallace
PDX Bus Developer Andrew Wallace

At that time, I had a couple of options, and my connection to the Line 54-Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy at Beaverton Transit Center was always pretty tight. So every night I needed to answer a nagging question: Would I make my connection at BTC, or should I stay on the MAX and transfer downtown?

I created the initial version of my app in about two weeks. Five years later, I’ve just introduced a long-overdue 6.7 version, which includes updates to the new Eastside Streetcar service and other fixes. PDX Bus only went public the first time after I shared it with friends and colleagues, and since then, I’ve tapped this group to beta test the app whenever I make changes.

I am part of a large community of local developers who create apps for TriMet riders thanks to TriMet’s approach to open data.

TriMet makes its raw data available to developers for the singular purpose of getting better tools to its riders with no cost to TriMet. In fact, TriMet was the first transit agency in the country to take this step, and riders now have nearly 60 apps available to them.

TriMet makes its raw data available to developers for the singular purpose of getting better tools to its riders with no cost to TriMet. In fact, TriMet was the first transit agency in the country to take this step, and riders now have nearly 60 apps available to them.

Andrew Wallace's PDX Bus app
Andrew Wallace’s PDX Bus app

As you can imagine, software developers tend to be an independent bunch. We do, however, share information and questions as part of a local Google group. TriMet’s own developers chime in to answer our questions and keep us moving forward. When TriMet was preparing to launch its map interface for their trip planner several years ago, TriMet IT Manager Bibiana McHugh even called me personally to let me know they had a new API (application programming interface) available in case I wanted to use the data with my app.

Due to the success of my app in Portland, I receive requests from transit riders in other cities to create a similar app for them. Often I tell them there is nothing I can do—their transit agency doesn’t make the raw data available to developers. The reason developers are flourishing here is because it’s hassle free for us to do our work. We also don’t need to worry about legal issues. I’ve heard there was an organization on the West Coast suing developers for using their data. That approach discourages innovation, as many developers toil away for fun—not for profit.

To the riders who use PDX Bus, thanks for all your support of my app and your feedback. And cheers to TriMet for making innovation easy.