Looking back on the last 41 years, you get the feeling there’s nothing bus driver Cindy Kassab can’t do — only things she hasn’t done yet.
Within a few years, the Hollywood Transit Center will look much different than it did on May 26, 2017. Our plans are coming together to honor those who lost their lives and those hurt that day, including the young women harassed by a man spewing hateful words.
Two tributes are currently planned. The first is a large commemorative plaque that will be placed at the Hollywood Transit Center permanently. After conferring with the families of those targeted in the May attack, we have commissioned designer John Laursen to create the tribute. The plaque will be 4 feet by 6 feet and made of porcelain enamel on steel. Descriptive text that honors the three men and two women will mix with images of the spontaneous memorial created by family, friends and strangers in the days that followed the attack. The art will be installed at the transit center by May 26, 2018.
The second tribute will be a mural reminiscent of the messages that filled the walls that line the ramp at the transit center. We’ve brought together a group of diverse artists, designers and community members who will select an artist (or a team of artists) to paint the walls using some of the original words that people wrote following the attack.
While the paint will last longer than the original chalk messages, this second tribute will be temporary, since over the coming years we have plans to redesign and redevelop the aging transit center. However, during that renovation, the plaque will be incorporated into a permanent memorial honoring the men and women at the center of our thoughts that day, as well as our community’s inspired reaction that renounced hate and embraced healing.
In retrospect, last year’s Roadeo was a walk in the park.
This time around, the competition featured new and additional challenges, like backing the 40-foot bus into an extremely tight space — twice. The course was harder and the stakes were higher, as this year’s top driver will get a trip to the national competition in Florida next May.
We honored the best of the best bus and MAX operators at the Operator of the Year ceremony in southeast Portland.
Celina K., Doug T. and Loyce R. were chosen from among the recipients of quarterly and monthly excellence awards handed out over the past year. This meant that each candidate had maintained an outstanding driving record, high levels of customer service, good attendance and the support of their peers.
Bus Operator of the Year
Celina K. began her career at TriMet in 2013. She’s now a lead operator, and she recently earned her fourth superior performance award (drivers receive these each time they drive for 1,960 hours without any preventable accidents, warnings, reprimands or suspensions). Celina’s riders have commended her for excellent service, professional attitude, kindness and her willingness to go out of her way to be helpful.
“I love people and I love driving,” said Celina. “I like that every day is different from the next, even if I am on the same route. There is always a new obstacle so it prompts you to stay alert for the unexpected.”
Celina lives in Gresham, and in her free time she enjoys fishing and accompanying her daughter to cheer competitions.
MAX Operator of the Year
Doug T. started driving TriMet buses 19 years ago. In 2001, he transferred to MAX. Among the accolades he’s received throughout his career are an impressive 27 Safe Driving awards from the National Safety Council, earned over many years with zero preventable accidents. He’s also received over a dozen Superior Performance awards and numerous commendations from the public.
Doug enjoys driving because of the riders — especially the kids who wave to him and signal to blow the horn. “I had a five-year-old on my Red Line train dressed as a rail conductor,” he recalled. “When we got to the airport I gave him a tour of my cab and let him honk the horn and ring the bell. The look on his face was priceless!”
When not at work, Doug likes golfing, going on walks, traveling the world and spending time with his wife, Luanne.
Mini-Run Operator of the Year
Mini-run, or part-time, operator Loyce R. began driving for TriMet five years ago. She has earned three Safe Driving Awards during her time behind the wheel (and she’s on her way to a fourth). She credits her career choice to her father-in-law, also a bus operator, who didn’t sugar-coat the work. According to Loyce, “He took me for a ride-along on the 72 line and asked, ‘Do you really want to do this?’”
Loyce admits that getting used to operating the bus was daunting, but now finds driving relaxing. She especially likes returning to lines she has previously driven and having passengers say they are glad she is back.
Loyce lives in Aloha, and loves golfing, fishing and game days with the family.
Congratulations to our 2017 Operators of the Year!
Every night, all 85 MAX trains are cleaned, washed and prepared to go into service by 4 a.m.
As supervisor Rick Taylor says, it takes a fine-tuned system and lots of training to get all this work done in such a short window of time. We’re thankful for the service workers who make it happen, night in and night out!
Spring is finally here and we’ll be digging in once again to make major improvements to sections of the original MAX tracks in Downtown Portland.
Like the projects we completed last year at 1st Avenue and Rose Quarter, the Morrison-Yamhill MAX Improvements project will impact service on all lines. But once they’re completed, these track and switch improvements will help us keep trains rolling smoothly and reliably.
The work will take three weeks, from April 30 through May 20. That’s a bit longer than the previous projects that took just two weeks each. The construction will temporarily alter Portland Streetcar in addition to disrupting MAX.
The heart of the project happens on SW Morrison and Yamhill streets at 11th Avenue, which was the end of the original MAX line between Portland and Gresham. This area sees it all: hundreds of trains and streetcars a day, three lanes of auto traffic, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Crews will replace four “turnouts” — two on Morrison Street and two on Yamhill Street. These are sections of track where rails spur off from the mainline to side tracks. Underneath the rails, crews will remove the old wooden ties that were standard at the time of original construction and replace them with concrete. New switches will go in with improved drainage to keep them clear of water and debris that can cause problems during heavy rain storms. On the Morrison side of 11th Avenue, the switches will get heaters to help keep snow and ice from building up, an especially good idea after last winter.
The original cable connecting the train signals to the track will also be replaced, and circuits that help monitor where trains are will be upgraded. These improvements will cut down on signal issues and keep trains moving.
Walking through these intersections today, you have to step carefully around broken and missing brick pavers and historic Portland Belgian block. We’ll replace those. The potholes caused by asphalt crumbling and pulling away from the rails will be repaired using a rubberized grout, which keeps the rail in place and prevents stray current as electricity from the overhead wire travels to the train and into the rail.
Down the street at 1st Avenue, crews will replace curved rail, which wears faster than straight rail. We’ll also be freshening up some signs at the closed platforms and working on our ticket machines.
The Morrison-Yamhill MAX Improvements project has been two years in the making. And since we know the three-week disruption to MAX service (and two-week disruption to Portland Streetcar) is going to be a big inconvenience, we’ve coordinated with other agencies to get all the disruptive work done at once. The Portland Bureau of Environmental Services will repair and upgrade sewers next to the tracks, Multnomah County will fix cracks under the Burnside Bridge and Portland Parks and Recreation will repair material under the Pioneer Square South MAX Station all at the same time our work is happening. We figured an intense three-week disruption is better than months of separate projects that block MAX.
We’re asking a lot from our riders during this project. We appreciate your patience and we can’t wait to debut smoother and more reliable MAX service next month.
Dispatcher Trisha Nako Harris says it best: The crew in the Operations Command Center takes multitasking to the 10th degree.
Drivers call dispatch whenever they need help. Dispatchers, in turn, use sophisticated tools (so many screens!) and excellent judgment to coordinate the support effort.
Impressive, right? Now imagine what the job is like during snow and ice! Suffice it to say we’re really grateful for our hardworking dispatchers.