All posts by Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

How We’re Speeding Up Buses

Sometimes a small change in our roads can have a big impact on how fast we all get home.

Recently, we’ve been working with PBOT and ODOT to improve intersections where buses (and cars) frequently get stuck in traffic. Here’s what we did at SW 4th Avenue and Harrison in Portland:

Before we worked with PBOT to tweak this intersection, left-turning cars would block buses from continuing east towards Naito. Just one turning car could cause delays to the buses that travel this busy corridor — including lines 35, 36, 54, 56 and 99.

But we saw an easy fix: Create a turn lane for eastbound traffic. Now, turning cars don’t block traffic. In the months since PBOT made this change, delays during the afternoon rush hour on those lines have dropped by nearly 20%. Small change, big impact.

We’ve worked with our partners to roll out similar improvements at nine other places across the region, from SE Stark at 82nd, to NE Holman at Airport Way, to the westbound approaches to the Hawthorne Bridge, and more. And there are dozens more intersections that we think can be improved. Think of these as the “low-hanging fruit” for speeding up buses and cars around our region.

This is just one small way we’re working to make transit — and the Portland region — better.          

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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Watch: What happens behind the scenes during a MAX disruption?

What’s happening on the ground when MAX stops running and our construction crews descend on a section of track?

Lots, it turns out. Let’s look at one stretch of tracks between SW Adams and S 1st during our recent Hillsboro MAX improvement project.

In the weeks before the disruption started, we removed most of the concrete around the rails. While the exposed rails — also known by the Halloween-appropriate term “skeleton rails” — look dangerous, they’re safe to run trains over.

Once the disruption started, we were able to cut the rails out.

With the rails gone, we were left with a shallow empty pit.

From there we laid the new rails and switches…

…welded them together and secured them to the ground.

We poured the new concrete…

…and then we ran test trains to make sure the new switches and rails were safe.

Here’s a time lapse covering the time from the last train before the disruption until the first test train going over the new rails.

This was far from the only work we did the past two weeks. It was a lot to accomplish and we couldn’t have done it without your patience!

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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Buses to the Rescue

If you need buses, and you need buses fast, Alex Ubiadas is who you call.

Whether you need to quickly evacuate a large number of people, like during 2017’s Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia Gorge, or you need a space to warm up first responders during a winter emergency, TriMet’s Emergency Manager is the person who can make it happen.

“We’re the only people in the area who can move lots of people in a short period of time,” says Alex, “This is not our primary mission, but as a taxpayer-funded public agency, we believe this an important role for us to play in our community.”

When something bad happens, people across the region know to contact Alex directly. If it’s a valid public emergency, and there are extra buses and operators available, he’ll coordinate with TriMet’s Operations Command Center to make sure the buses get where they need to go.

A common misconception is that the buses and operators being used for emergencies are being pulled off their regular runs, with TriMet’s service suffering as a result. “We always have extra buses and operators standing by in case of any issues, like if we need to replace MAX with shuttle buses, or a bus breaks down, or an operator calls in sick,” explains Alex. “As a last resort, we’ll pull some buses off Frequent Service lines to replace MAX during lengthy disruptions. But we only use our spare buses and drivers for responding to emergencies.”

Water and other supplies for Eagle Creek Fire evacuees

2017’s Eagle Creek Fire was one of the largest — and farthest flung — emergency operations Alex has helped coordinate. As the fire raced through the Gorge, thousands of residents needed to be evacuated. Even though the evacuation zones extended far beyond TriMet’s service area, several buses were sent to help shuttle people to shelters and to bring water and other supplies to the evacuees. “Because the fire moved so quickly, we only had a couple hours heads-up on that request. With the amount of people we transported and the distance from Portland, it was our largest emergency operation in recent memory.”

TriMet has also recently provided buses that helped evacuate people during the 2018 junkyard fire off NE Killingsworth Street. And in 2016, TriMet buses took children from their school near the NW 23rd Avenue gas explosion to a safe location where their parents could pick them up.

Beyond evacuations, TriMet will provide buses to help police departments with transportation when a large number of people have been arrested, such as during a riot. Alex will also help arrange for warming or cooling buses. “If there is a fire during the winter months, we’ll often provide a bus for firefighters to rest and warm themselves. Likewise, in extreme heat, we can provide buses to help cool first responders or other people. A few years ago there was a large outdoor festival that had a lot of people from vulnerable populations attending. The county director of emergency management asked if we could provide a bus to help cool people who were showing signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.”

One thing Alex has yet to provide buses for — but is prepared for — is an earthquake. “We have plans to provide assistance for major emergencies, such as an earthquake. The Portland Transportation Recovery Plan provides for TriMet to use buses to potentially move people but also supplies to distribution points within the city,” says Alex.

“I love that we’re able to do this,” continues Alex. “It’s just the right thing to do.”

As part of National Preparedness Month, Alex encourages everybody to visit ready.gov to learn how they can prepare for a disaster.

Header photo courtesy KPAM News Talk 860 & Afternoon Northwest

 

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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What You Want In The Next Generation Of MAX Trains

In a few years, we’ll be sending our high-floor MAX trains — which have been rolling since MAX first opened in 1986 —  off into the sunset. We’ll miss our Type 1’s (you never forget your first love…), but we’re excited about their replacements, the Type 6’s. Evidently, so are you.

Earlier this year, we asked what features you wanted to see in our next generation of MAX cars. Your requests were diverse and interesting, and we noticed some common themes. While we can’t yet make any promises about what our new trains will include, your suggestions are being used to guide our planning.

Here are your most common requests:

More and better interior displays

We’re on board with you here — clear interior displays that tell you where you are and where you’re going are essential. For our Type 6 trains, we’re asking for an upgrade from our current LED displays to dynamic route maps and next-stop displays. Our hope is for high-definition displays that can show graphics.

Comfortable seating and easy-to-navigate layouts

Your feedback on the open layout of the Type 5 trains — which were introduced in 2015 with the Orange Line — has been very positive, so the Type 6 trains will likely be similar. Regardless, we’re going to explore seat cushioning and layout options, so we can give you the most comfortable ride possible.

A safe ride

This is as non-negotiable for us as it is for you. For our Type 6 trains, we’re looking to add a silent alarm you can use to notify operators of security issues, higher definition on-board cameras for the recording as well as live streaming of security footage, and higher quality rear monitors so operators to have a clear image of what’s happening around the train during boarding.

There were several other common requests that we’ll be looking into, including WiFi, charging stations and USB ports, more leg room, easier boarding and exiting with wider doors and faster ramps, and more and better bike storage. Again, we make no promises but we’re looking at which requests we can accommodate.

So when you can expect these new train cars? Soon, but not too soon. You cannot go to the train store and pick out new cars to drive home (we wish…). These cars will be custom designed and built. We’re going to be looking for a manufacturer for these cars starting this year. Then the actual car design will kick off next year and manufacturing will start in 2020. If everything goes well, we hope to have the first new cars rolling in Portland by late 2021 or 2022. Stay tuned.

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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Now Available: Reduced Fares for Low-Income Riders

If you have trouble affording your TriMet fare, relief may be available.

Oregon residents who are 18 to 64 years old and have an income less than twice the federal poverty level can apply to ride for a lower fare. If approved, you will save 50% off a single ride or day pass, or 72% off a month pass.

Application is a three-step process. You’ll need to…

  1. Show that your income qualifies
  2. Apply in-person at one of our community partner locations
  3. Pick up your personalized Hop card from the TriMet Ticket Office at Pioneer Square

We’ll walk you through each step. Find out if you’re eligible and apply today.

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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Avoid Interstate Construction Traffic This Summer

Hearing the phrase “a good time to plan a vacation” about upcoming roadwork does not exactly inspire confidence in a smooth commute. But that is what’s being said about this summer’s I-84 and I-5 construction.

The projects, which run from July 8th through August 27th (with a brief early August break), will close three of the ramps that connect I-5 to I-84. Major traffic delays are expected for the length of the projects.

For many, MAX is going to be the best option for your commute. It may be crowded, but you won’t get bogged down in traffic. MAX Yellow Line is an alternative for I-5 in North Portland and the Blue, Green and Red lines can help you avoid I-84 (and parts of I-205).

Want to find the fastest way to work on TriMet? Plan your trip.

If don’t live near a MAX station, we have dozens of Park & Ride locations that provide free and easy parking near MAX stations.

Yellow Line riders have access to over 600 free parking spaces between the Expo Center and Delta Park/Vanport Park & Rides. Additionally, the Expo Center is allowing use of any other open spaces in its lot between July 8-20, July 25-August 6 and August 17-27, but a fee will apply for those.  

Red Line riders looking to avoid I-205 and I-84 have access to nearly 200 spaces at the Parkrose/Sumner Transit Center Park & Ride.

Blue Line riders have access to over 2,000 spaces at five Park & Rides between Cleveland Ave and Gateway Transit Center.

Similarly, Green Line riders have access to over 2,300 spaces at five Park & Rides between Clackamas Town Center and Gateway

Red, Blue and Green Line riders can also use the Gateway Transit Center Park & Ride’s nearly 700 spaces.

Many Park & Rides fill by 7-7:30 a.m. on a normal weekday, so we recommend arriving early.

See our full list of Park & Ride locations.

Buses will also provide a way through traffic during the roadwork. While they still may experience some delays, we’ve taken action to help keep them moving.

We’re anticipating significant delays approaching the Burnside Bridge during the ramp closure beginning July 25, so we’ve worked with the City of Portland to turn NE Davis between SE Sandy and SE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd into bus and local access only on July 26-27, July 30-31, August 1-3, and August 20-24 from 6-11 a.m.. This should help keep Line 12, 19 and 20 buses moving.

Also during the ramp closures that start on July 25th, we’ve worked to restrict parking for additional hours on SE Morrison between SE 12th and SE 6th Ave and SE Madison between SE 10th and SE 6th. This will allow our buses to use the BUS ONLY lanes for longer as they approach the Morrison and Hawthorne bridges.

We will also have additional buses waiting at transit centers that can be pulled into service in case buses start to fill and go into “Drop Off Only” during the ramp closures.

Throughout the summer, C-TRAN’s express service between Vancouver and Downtown Portland is a viable alternative to MAX Yellow Line. C-TRAN is anticipating delays due to the expect congestion. Visit c-tran.com for more.

No matter how you plan on commuting this summer, transit will likely be a better option than driving for many who will be impacted by the I-5 / I-84 construction work. Here are helpful links for your commute:

Want to find the fastest way to work on TriMet? Plan your trip.

Worried about potential delays? Check out service alerts for your line.

New to TriMet? Here’s all you need to know to pay your fare and ride.

 

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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Starting July 1: A Fairer Citation Process

A court record can affect your ability to get a job, rent a house or serve in the military. But until now, a TriMet fare evasion citation had to be resolved within the court system, in most cases leading to a court record. We didn’t think that was right – skipping fare is not a crime that should have life-long consequences – and we’ve done something about it.

Starting July 1, a new law gives us a 90-day window to resolve some citations directly with riders. If you are an adult and receive a citation only for fare evasion, you will now have the option to resolve the citation outside of the court system by paying a fine, performing community service or enrolling in a reduced fare program. If the citation was given in error, you can provide us with evidence and we’ll dismiss the citation.

Eligible citations will come in an envelope with instructions for settling your citation online or by phone.

If you don’t resolve your citation with TriMet within the 90-day window, your only option will be to resolve it in court, where the presumptive fine will be $175 and the maximum fine $250.

Here are your new options for resolving an eligible citation with TriMet:

Appeal your citation

If you can demonstrate you had the correct fare, you can request a written appeal online within 45 days of receiving your citation. If the citation is not dismissed, you’ll still have the option to resolve it with TriMet by paying a reduced fine, performing community service, or enrolling in a reduced fare program.

Pay a fine

You can pay your fine — and possibly a reduced fine — online, via check, or over the phone within 90 days from when your citation was issued:

1st offense: $75
2nd offense: $100
3rd offense: $150
4th offense and beyond: $175

Perform community service

Instead of paying a fine, you can perform community service at the Oregon Food Bank, Rebuilding Center, Free Geek or Oregon Humane Society within 90 days from when your citation was issued:

1st offense: 4 hours
2nd offense: 7 hours
3rd offense: 12 hours
4th offense and beyond: 15 hours

Enroll in a reduced fare program

If you qualify — either though income, age or disability — for our Honored Citizen fare and successfully sign up and load $10 on your personalized Honored Citizen Hop card within 90 days, your fine will be waived upon verification by TriMet.

Specific instructions will be provided with your citation. Not all citations are eligible for this program. 

Please note that penalties or this process could change over time and this page may not contain the most up-to-date information. Please read the instructions that come with your citation for the current penalties and process.   

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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Rolling Out Soon: Our Largest-Ever Bus Service Expansion

Our largest-ever expansion of bus service is officially a “go” with the approval of our Fiscal Year 2019 budget last week.

Thirteen lines will soon have more frequent buses or will run for more hours. We’ll also be bringing back 24-hour service to two lines, the first time we’ve offered all-night service since 1986! Most of these improvements will roll out this September with the remainder coming in March 2019.

Here’s the increased bus service you’ll soon see:

  • Lines 61, 64, 66 and 68 — all of which serve OHSU and Marquam Hill — will have expanded hours of operation.
  • Line 81-Kane Rd/257th will have more than 20 additional weekday buses.
  • Line 24-Fremont will be extended across the Fremont Bridge.
  • A new all-night bus — Line 272 — will go to Portland International Airport.
  • Line 4-Division/Fessenden — one of our longest and most popular routes — will be split into two lines to help keep buses on time.
  • Line 20-Burnside/Stark and Line 57-TV Hwy/Forest Grove will run 24 hours a day.
  • Line 73-122nd Ave will have increased weekday service with buses arriving every 15 minutes most of the day.
  • Line 96-Tualatin/I-5 will have more service with 25 new mid-day buses between Tualatin and Portland.

We’re also moving forward with important safety and security upgrades, a low-income fare, buying new buses (including five new battery-electric buses) and continued work on the Division Transit and Southwest Corridor projects.

Read more about what our Fiscal Year 2019 budget includes.

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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Recap: Providence Park MAX Track Work

It may have only lasted six days, but we got a lot done.

The MAX track work last week outside of Providence Park allowed us to rebuild an aging section of tracks that was causing reliability issues. Here’s what we did:

There were several improvements we wanted to make going into this project.

The asphalt around the tracks had broken down, which made MAX trains sway as they traveled through the area. It was uncomfortable for you and it caused unnecessary wear and tear on our trains.

Technology has improved since this section of track was built in the early 1990s, so we ripped out the rails and the materials supporting them and replaced them with materials that will be more durable, reliable and longer-lasting. When replacing the rails, we secured them with a new grout that should keep the rails in place better —  preventing that swaying — while also proving to be more durable than asphalt.

Finally, we replaced the old switches and improved the drainage underneath them. This should also increase reliability and lessen maintenance needs.

We were able to accomplish other necessary work at the same time. We moved the poles that hold the overhead wires, which should minimize future disruptions. 

There is still a bit more work to do: You’ll notice some gaps in the pavement near the tracks that still need grout. It’s safe for trains to pass through but the street will remain closed for the rest of this week.

This necessary work wouldn’t have been possible without your patience. We can’t thank you enough!

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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MAX is Back at Providence Park. Thank You for Your Patience!

And that’s a wrap! We’ve finished our Providence Park MAX track work and trains are running normally again.

We want to thank you for your patience during this work. We understand how inconvenient these disruptions can be. We’re commuters ourselves, after all.

New rails outside Providence Park.

This six-day disruption allowed us to replace the rails and outdated switches near Providence Park. The next time you ride MAX past the stadium, we hope you notice the smoother ride. (Or at least that you don’t notice any bumps.) This necessary work should improve MAX reliability, as well.

We’ll share a video overview of the project next week, but until then: Thank you!

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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