All posts by Jennette Zarko

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Communications Coordinator. I help develop and maintain TriMet's web and social media content. My family uses a combination of carpooling, Portland Streetcar, biking and riding Line 38 to get to work and school. It’s just how I like it - a little different every day! You can also occasionally catch me performing around Portland with various improv groups.

Victor Ornelas becomes first MAX operator to reach “Gold Grand Master” status

Gold Grand Master Operator Victor Ornelas
Gold Grand Master Operator Victor Ornelas

Victor Ornelas recently became the first MAX operator ever to be awarded the distinction of “Gold Grand Master” Operator. He is one of only four operators to achieve this status.

This honor is part of our Master Operator Program, which is designed to recognize bus and rail operators who achieve overall excellence in their duties as professional drivers. Victor has completed more than 58,800 superior driving hours.

This is no small accomplishment. To attain this milestone you would have to drive 6.7 years nonstop. He has 27closing in on 28years of safe driving with excellent attendance.

This award is truly an honor. I didn’t set a goal to become a Gold Grand Master, I just showed up every day and did the job the best I could.

Victor is a seasoned operator who has had some close calls. Ornelas recounted one moment that has stuck with him over the years. While stopped at the Lloyd Center/NE 11th Ave MAX Station, some kids were playing around on the platform as riders were boarding. After the doors closed, Victor prepared to pull out of the station. Transit-MallJust as he began to roll, a teen was pushed by friends between the MAX cars. Fortunately, Victor was alert to the potential hazard. He secured his train and saw that the young woman had fallen between the cars. His attention to his surroundings and driving skills likely saved her life.

Victor and his wife of 34 years, Marilyn, enjoy traveling and spending time together when he’s not working. He joined TriMet right after his service in the Air Force. He was stationed out of Fairchild in Spokane, Washington.

“I came to Portland and applied at TriMet and at the Post Office,” says Victor. “I went to both interviews and TriMet won the draw, thought I would give it a try. Just think, I could’ve been your postman!”

Jennette Zarko

Jennette Zarko

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Communications Coordinator. I help develop and maintain TriMet's web and social media content. My family uses a combination of carpooling, Portland Streetcar, biking and riding Line 38 to get to work and school. It’s just how I like it - a little different every day! You can also occasionally catch me performing around Portland with various improv groups.

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New benches installed along Line 75 (and more to come!)

ad-bench
Roughly 600 new benches are being installed.

If you ride the Line 75-Cesar Chavez/Lombard, you may have noticed a new place to relax and rest your legs while waiting for the bus.

Roughly 600 benches are being replaced as part of a program funded entirely by Lamar Advertising.

The new benches are more durable and easier to maintain, and they’re now bolted down to the sidewalk or concrete pad.

leaner bench
“Leaners” are installed in locations where traditional benches don’t fit.

About 10 percent of the new benches will be “leaners,” similar to the leaning rails found at MAX stations. They provide an alternative to standing in locations where benches will not safely fit.

The shallower leaner allows for installation in areas where sidewalks are not wide enough to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards and accommodate a traditional bench.

A local woman-owned business, Decorative Metal Services, Inc., out of Vancouver, is building the benches and leaners.

We’re currently installing benches in North Portland along the 4 and 44 bus lines. Line 77 will be next. Installation will continue through December 2014 around the metro area.

What do you think of the new benches and “leaners”? Let us know at comments@trimet.org.

Jennette Zarko

Jennette Zarko

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Communications Coordinator. I help develop and maintain TriMet's web and social media content. My family uses a combination of carpooling, Portland Streetcar, biking and riding Line 38 to get to work and school. It’s just how I like it - a little different every day! You can also occasionally catch me performing around Portland with various improv groups.

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Spring Break Staycation Guide

cherryblossomSpring is here! Save on major travel expenses like airline tickets, lodging, gas and meals by taking a spring break “staycation”. Pick up a 1-Day Pass (only $5 each) and let us take you out to explore these local attractions that are ideal for keeping money in your pocket.

Go old-school and become a tourist
See the city through a visitor’s eyes and do what they do. Visit the Portland Art Museum, OMSI, the Portland Japanese Garden or the Zoo. Maybe it’s trying Dim Sum in Chinatown or roller skating at Oaks Park. Always sure to please is the Portland Saturday Market, with arts and crafts in its open-air marketplace.

Spend a day at a park
There are no shortages of parks in Portland. Pack a picnic, blanket and chairs. Spread out and let the kids run around while you sit back and relax. Take TriMet to one of many trails and parks in the area.

Swim day
Sure, spring break in Portland often means dodging rain, but it doesn’t mean you can’t pretend you’re in Maui and enjoy a day at the pool. Find an indoor community pool and dive in.

Find what’s fresh at a farmers market
Head to your local farmers market for some fresh and colorful fruits and veggies. Get the kids in on the fun and have them choose what to buy for dinner!

Get lost
In places such as Powell’s Books or Forest Park, it’s easy to wander and get lost. Bring the kids, dog, friends or family for an outing you’re sure to enjoy.

Paradise-bound
If you are heading out of town for spring break, let us take you to PDX or Union Station.

Plan your trip
It’s easy to explore Portland on TriMet over spring break. Check out the many other destinations you can discover on buses, MAX Light Rail, WES Commuter Rail and Portland Streetcar.
Plan a trip today!

Pin it
Be sure to pin and save your favorite Places to Go on Pinterest.

 

Jennette Zarko

Jennette Zarko

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Communications Coordinator. I help develop and maintain TriMet's web and social media content. My family uses a combination of carpooling, Portland Streetcar, biking and riding Line 38 to get to work and school. It’s just how I like it - a little different every day! You can also occasionally catch me performing around Portland with various improv groups.

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Why I Ride: Jana G.

Want to be featured in our rider profile series? We’d love to hear from you. Submit your story for consideration through our handy questionnaire at trimet.org/stories.

Why I Ride - Jana

Where do you live?

Orenco

Why do you ride TriMet?

TriMet is amazing. My husband and I moved from Florida last January where we dealt with bad sprawl, terrible traffic, and NO public transportation. I have spent a lot of time on mass transit in other cities and TriMet has by far the nicest, most caring people working there.

I began commuting to work on the Blue Line from Orenco all the way to NE 82nd back in August after fighting the traffic for 6 months. It has been a literal life-changing experience! The time it takes is pretty much the same as driving – maybe a few extra minutes, but worth it. I can do whatever I want in the morning: read, catch up with personal emails, Facebook, or Twitter, or just relax.

My employer agreed to let me do an afternoon “working commute” meaning I spend the last hour of my workday actually working ON the train (using my personal mobile hotspot)!

I get an extra hour at home in the evenings with my husband now and we can get by with one car. My employer even offers a fantastic incentive for using public transit, and I feel great about doing my part for the environment. My husband and I use the MAX a lot on the weekends to go to downtown Portland or Hillsboro for dinner and drinks, or whatever else captures our interest. We love TriMet and the MAX!

Which modes do you use?

MAX and Streetcar. We drive but only when we have to.

What are your favorite things to do while riding TriMet?

Read, social networking, work.

My insight:

Occasionally people forget basic etiquette when listening to music. People should invest in better headphones! I find it crazy if I can hear your music from the other end of MAX car! But it’s really more amusing to me than an issue.

What do you think is the best thing about living in the Portland area?

How nice people are to each other.

Is there anything you’d like to share about yourself?

I love Dave Matthews Band and Twitter!

Jennette Zarko

Jennette Zarko

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Communications Coordinator. I help develop and maintain TriMet's web and social media content. My family uses a combination of carpooling, Portland Streetcar, biking and riding Line 38 to get to work and school. It’s just how I like it - a little different every day! You can also occasionally catch me performing around Portland with various improv groups.

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Why I Ride: Tara C.

Want to be featured in our rider profile series? We’d love to hear from you. Submit your story for consideration through our handy questionnaire at trimet.org/stories.

Why I Ride - Tara

Where do you live?

Downtown Portland

Why do you ride TriMet?

I am a huge advocate of living a healthy sustainable lifestyle and am thrilled to be able to teach my twin 3 year old boys the importance of healthy, economical, and sustainable living. Our morning starts with a short ride on our Razor scooters to the JELD-WEN platform. We change trains at Pioneer Square, then ride up to North Portland, where we continue our scooter ride 4 blocks to their preschool. I then pack their scooters onto my back and continue across the freeway to work. It is by far faster to drive, but I don’t get the quality teaching opportunities with my boys, socialization with so many diverse patrons, nor the fantastic smiling faces of people watching us scooter around…they do look pretty adorable and the scooters help me to get them quickly to the next location.

Tara C's kids ride their scooters
Tara’s boys ride their scooters to school.

Ironically, the first phrase out of their mouth in the morning when their eyes open is, “Do we get to ride our scooters?”

At each stop there is the suspense of which train will come around the corner…the zoo train, the fast train, the one with steps…the whole trip is always a surprise for them.

The bonus is I work for a company that always focuses on sustainability in their building practices and design, and also encourages their employees to live this way by offering incentives like providing a TriMet pass to employees who will commute at least 4 days a week by public transportation as well as a Zipcar membership. So for, me it just makes sense in so many ways….and for my family…that’s “How We Roll!”

Which modes do you use?

Mostly we use the MAX, but around town we will also use the Portland Streetcar…but always…we bring the scooters.

What are your favorite things to do while riding TriMet?

Play “I Spy.”

Tara C's boys take a snack break
I spy…a snack break!

My insight:

Most people think that it is too much hassle to use public transportation and have got caught up with the “need” of having to have their car with them for the “just in case” scenario. Slowing your life down just a bit really helps to focus on living in the greater space around you, rather than the space within your car. The attitude of my day is greatly enhanced when I ride public transportation. Instead of sitting in traffic and dodging aggressive texting drivers, I can read a book, network, chat with a stranger, teach my children and move my body. If I miss the MAX it just gives me 10 extra minutes to catch my breath, be outside and be aware of what is going on around me…it gives me a “roll with it” attitude.

What do you think is the best thing about living in the Portland area?

Definitely the people! It is such a great mixed bag of diversity.

Is there anything you’d like to share about yourself?

Besides playing at a lot of playgrounds with the boys, I also race cyclecross, which has completely changed this Southern Californian’s attitude toward the wet winters of Oregon.

Read more about Tara in Portland Family

Jennette Zarko

Jennette Zarko

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Communications Coordinator. I help develop and maintain TriMet's web and social media content. My family uses a combination of carpooling, Portland Streetcar, biking and riding Line 38 to get to work and school. It’s just how I like it - a little different every day! You can also occasionally catch me performing around Portland with various improv groups.

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Why I Ride: Ethan J.

Want to be featured in our rider profile series? We’d love to hear from you. Submit your story for consideration through our handy questionnaire at trimet.org/stories.
Rider Profile - Ethan J

Where do you live?

Mill Park, SE Portland

Why do you ride TriMet?

Driving across Southeast Portland is a bear and a half, made worse by the endless construction on Division that funnels more and more people onto the parking lot that is Powell Blvd. One day during the summer, sitting in my car on Powell, not moving, I said, “That’s it. I’ve had enough. I’ve got to get out of this car.” The next day I bought a bicycle. Being able to bike as far as I want to and then just toss my bike up onto a bus is such a convenient way to get around.

TriMet allows my husband and I to share one car and a bicycle and make it work, even though we live east of I-205, and it allows me to get to work relaxed and ready for the day (not to mention on time). The new smartphone app is just an added layer of convenience.

Which modes do you use?

Mostly bus, sometimes MAX, rarely Streetcar.

What are your favorite things to do while riding TriMet?

Read, listen to podcasts, people watch.

My morning commute involves an easy bus ride across the city, biking across the Hawthorne bridge, and then biking along the Waterfront, past the geese. It’s a much more relaxing way to get to work, and it’s good exercise to boot.

My insight:

This city’s transit system is one of the most comprehensive I’ve ever seen. If you live in SE, there is zero reason to attempt to navigate the parking lot down Powell Blvd across the Ross Island. Get out of your car, buy a bike if you want, and just go for it!

What do you think is the best thing about living in the Portland area?

It’s a compact, livable city with a lot going on, and it’s very easy to get around.

Is there anything you’d like to share about yourself?

My husband and I moved here from Oklahoma a little less than five years ago, and we love it here.

Read more about taking your bike on TriMet

Jennette Zarko

Jennette Zarko

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Communications Coordinator. I help develop and maintain TriMet's web and social media content. My family uses a combination of carpooling, Portland Streetcar, biking and riding Line 38 to get to work and school. It’s just how I like it - a little different every day! You can also occasionally catch me performing around Portland with various improv groups.

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Why I Ride: Naim

Naim sent us his story with a little help from his mom Lisa. We left his words as originally submitted. Want to be featured in our rider profile series? We’d love to hear from you. Submit your story for consideration through our handy questionnaire at trimet.org/stories.

Why I Ride - Naim

Where do you live?

Hillsboro

Why do you ride TriMet?

I am 8 years old. Because my parents are disabled, I am a full-time transit user. It is pretty interesting. I would be bored riding a car all the time. I get to meet interesting people. Because my dad has a guide dog, people come up and talk to us a lot.

“Riding TriMet has been a part of the kids’ lives since they were infants, and they often talk about how they don’t really see themselves driving (or driving much) when they get older, so I think you have life-long transit people in them.” – Naim’s mom, Lisa

Naim at the Portland Children's Museum
Naim takes his turn behind the wheel of a bus at the Portland Children’s Museum

Which modes do you use?

I use MAX, sometimes the streetcar, the bus and yesterday I rode the tram.

What are your favorite things to do while riding TriMet?

Thinking about stuff like what am I going to do tomorrow, when am I going to get married, what am I having for dinner, when will my parents let me have an iphone on the max and what will I do when I grow up and tons of other stuff.

Niam with his mom, dad, twin brother and the dog
Naim with his mom, dad, twin brother and the dog

My insight:

It is better to ride TriMet than to ride a car because they pollute and use energy and you don’t need a drivers license.

As a kid, I get lots of exersise when I ride trimet and get to be outside more. Sometimes the kids in soccer can’t run as fast or as much as me when it is hot because they are not used to it.

Sometimes, also, I know a lot more about my way around then other kids do so you learn a lot. Also, you can read books and draw pictures.

What do you think is the best thing about living in the Portland area?

Being close to lots of stuff like OMSI, Village Home, Oregon Zoo, The Tree Museum, the Airport, Starbucks, the Timbers, Northwest Children’s theater and the Children’s Museum, and the Oregon Commission for the Blind where my dad works.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself?

Niam and his family depend solely on transit to get them where they need to go
Naim with his dad Niklas and brothers Avery and Aaron

My family has my twin brother, Aaron, my mom who is deafblind, my dad who is blind and my baby brother and my dog who is a very hansome dog and is a guide dog. And also a cat and hamster. I like to play with Legos, eat pizza, play soccer, go jogging with my dad, and do drama.

 

 

 

Read more about Naim in Portland Family

Jennette Zarko

Jennette Zarko

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Communications Coordinator. I help develop and maintain TriMet's web and social media content. My family uses a combination of carpooling, Portland Streetcar, biking and riding Line 38 to get to work and school. It’s just how I like it - a little different every day! You can also occasionally catch me performing around Portland with various improv groups.

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