Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

Our oldest MAX trains are getting makeovers

We launched our first MAX trains—what we call the Type 1—nearly 30 years ago in 1986. That same year, “Top Gun” graced the silver screen, Ronald Reagan lived in the White House and big hair was all the rage.

Since then, our Type 1 trains have logged 1.6 million miles in the metro area and over time, they’ve begun to show their age. With time, the trains’ body filler (like industrial-strength putty) has broken down, allowing moisture to get through. Also, the stairwells in these high-floor trains have signs of rust and corrosion.

Massive makeover

A bare Type 1 MAX train
A bare Type 1 MAX train

To extend their operating lifetime (for up to 20 years), we started refurbishing these trains in 2002. To date, 21 trains are fully restored and two are in process. The last three Type 1 trains are expected to be revived by the end of 2016.

From start to finish, it takes three people about six months—or about 3,500 labor hours—to refurbish a Type 1 train. Here are the key steps to refinish this train:

  • Remove equipment on the roof, exterior end and sidewalls.
  • Cover door and window openings.
  • Chip off old body filler and paint and grind the entire exterior to the metal.
  • Apply epoxy primer and three coats of body filler.
  • Use industrial-scale white body paint, then TriMet blue and yellow color coats.
  • Refinish and reattach doors.

“It takes a lot of effort to get all of the body filler down to the metal,” says Mark Grove, who is the Manager of Rail Equipment Maintenance at our Gresham facility. “We have talented light-rail mechanics like Bob Culpepper who help make this project happen.”

Grove also says it’s an “art form” to get the body filler flat and smooth. And unlike the original primer and filler, modern filler flexes with the metal of the train’s movement, which makes it last longer.

New signs, windows, HVAC

Mark Grove with a refurbished Type 1 MAX train.
Mark Grove with a refurbished Type 1 MAX train.

Type 1 trains are the only ones in the MAX fleet where its destination signs are hand-cranked by the operator. As part of the rehab, all Type 1 trains will feature new digital signage.

We’re also upgrading the HVAC systems, along with the old vented windows, and replacing them with single-piece fixed windows. This will increase energy efficiency and give you a quieter ride and more open space.

Finally, we’re replacing the old propulsion/braking resistors that are mounted on the roof. The old ones are at the end of their useful life.

“The new resistors have a 20% higher capacity, so they’re stressed less, will be more reliable and last longer,” Grove says.

Why not buy new?

Renovating a Type 1 train is far less costly than buying new. A new light-rail train costs up to $4 million. A Type 1 train rehab runs about $200,000. Cha-ching!

Next in line

Once all the Type 1 renovations are done, we’ll start makeovers on the Type 2 trains.

In the meantime, check out our brand new MAX trains! We’ll be welcoming 18 new-and-improved MAX vehicles to our fleet this year.

Andrew Longeteig

Andrew Longeteig

I’m TriMet’s Communications Coordinator. I share what’s happening at the agency with the media and general public. When I’m not working, I’ll either be watching the Blazers or at a rock concert.

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Heads up! Trains are testing along the Orange Line

Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People, and the new MAX Orange Line don’t open until September 12, but we’ve got light rail trains and buses already out testing the new routes. That means you’ll see trains and buses in areas they may not have traveled through before.

Our operators are always scanning their routes for pedestrians and cyclists, but an extra set of eyes always helps! Please be on the lookout for buses and trains in both directions, especially along the MAX Orange Line and near Tilikum Crossing. If we all stay alert, everyone will stay safe.

Be safe around trains

Stay off the tracks. At 30 miles per hour, it takes MAX trains two blocks to come to a complete stop, and they can’t swerve around you!

7563423082_fd9f1a52ec_zBike across tracks straight on. Crossing tracks at an angle or turning across tracks is risky. Your wheel could slip into the track bed and cause you to crash! When in doubt, please walk your bike across the tracks.

Please wait if you see a train coming. Flashing lights or a lowering gate means a train is approaching the station. It is illegal to bike, walk, skate or drive around lowered gates.

Cross legally. The only legal and safe place to cross train tracks is at designated crosswalks.

Stay alert around tracks. Headphones, music and texting can be distracting and keep you from noticing an approaching train.

Do not trespass on tracks. It’s illegal and can result in a fine or jail time.

Be safe around buses

Please stop, look and listen for buses before crossing the street.

Bike signals closeupWhile biking, please pass on the left if you see riders are boarding or deboarding.

Make sure the operator can see you. If you can’t see the operator—either in the mirror or directly—he or she can’t see you.

Don’t cross in front of a stopped bus. Traffic going around the vehicle may not see you!

If driving around a bus, please give the operators extra space as you change lanes. Buses cannot stop as quickly as cars.

We want you to stay safe while you’re out and about, so please stay alert while walking or biking around buses and trains—and share these tips with your family, friends and neighbors. Let’s all work together to keep everyone safe!

Find out more about the MAX Orange Line, check out the calendar of opening events and sign up to get updates by email.

Jessica Ridgway

Jessica Ridgway

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Coordinator. I develop content for our website and social media channels. I'm a daily MAX rider and an adopted Oregonian.

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Who rides TriMet? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Each year, we partner with DHM Research to find out more about our riders’ needs and how they’re using the system. The results are presented in our annual Attitude & Awareness Survey.

This past year, we asked y’all how, where and why you ride, and the results are pretty interesting!

Take a look and share—What kind of rider of you?

infographic

 

Jessica Ridgway

Jessica Ridgway

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Coordinator. I develop content for our website and social media channels. I'm a daily MAX rider and an adopted Oregonian.

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2015 Operators of the Year

Each year, three operators are chosen as the TriMet Operators of the Year. The winners are selected by their colleagues and qualify for the annual award based on their driving, attendance and customer service records.

Here are 2015’s Operators of the Year:

Catherine McLendon, “Mini-Run” Operator of the Year

Catherine lives in Beaverton and has been a TriMet bus driver for 21 years. She has a stellar record for safety, customer service and attendance. Catherine’s also received 16 National Safe Driving awards—which means she’s consecutively driven 16 years without a preventable accident. She’s also received nine Superior Performance Awards (awarded each time an operator drives for 1,960 hours without any preventable accidents, warnings, reprimands or suspensions) and four Ace awards for helping her Honored Citizen riders—not to mention five years of perfect attendance.  Way to go, Catherine!

James Hilliard, MAX Operator of the Year

James Hilliard - MAX Operator of the YearJames started as a bus operator in 2006 and switched to operating MAX trains in 2008. This Southeast Portland resident consistently qualifies for operator recognition with a perfect attendance record, nine Service Performance Awards and seven National Safe Driving awards. His rail supervisor described him as “one of the kindest, most professional employees we could hope to have” and bus dispatchers recognize James as someone who always helps out. Thank you, James!

Lyn Simons, Bus Operator of the Year

Lyn Simons - Bus Operator of the Year Lyn, a Milwaukie resident, has been a TriMet bus operator for 14 years. During her time on the road she’s earned 12 National Safe Driving awards (She’s currently working on #13!) and seven Service Performance Awards. She’s also a Senior Operator with a perfect record of zero preventable accidents. Lyn’s colleagues describe her as “a hard worker and respectful, with a big heart.” You rock, Lyn!

We couldn’t be more proud of Catherine, James and Lyn—Thanks for keeping us all moving!

Jessica Ridgway

Jessica Ridgway

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Coordinator. I develop content for our website and social media channels. I'm a daily MAX rider and an adopted Oregonian.

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More service brings more riders: adding up TriMet’s ridership stats

Riders often tell us what they want their transit service to look like: more frequent buses, more trains, better connections and early morning and late-night trips. More and better service, clearly, are big motivators to getting you on board.

Since fall 2013, we’ve been making big strides toward getting service hours back to the high levels that predate the Great Recession—and now we’re almost there.

When we looked at our winter quarter ridership numbers (December–February) compared to the same period the previous year, we got some insight into just how these service improvements affect riders’ habits. So we were pretty happy to see a 2.8% increase in overall ridership this last quarter over the year before. It’s a small percentage that tells a big story, considering three very different factors that go into it:

Rides on buses were up 4% overall, and up 5.4% on our Frequent Service lines.

Bus Weekly Boarding Rides

Bus ridership has been growing pretty consistently over the last year since we started adding back service that was cut during the recession. In September 2013, we began making improvements to return Frequent Service to every 15 minutes or better.  (Our 12 Frequent Service bus lines are our most popular lines, providing more than half of all bus trips.) We’re making good progress toward delivering the improved bus service that riders want and deserve. 

MAX Light Rail ridership was up slightly, increasing 1% over the previous year.

MAX Weekly Boarding Rides

WES Commuter Rail ridership was down 10.7% (about 170 rides a day).

WES Weekly Boarding Rides

Why the drop? We’re not sure, exactly, but our manager of service performance and analysis suggested low gas prices as a likely factor. As gas prices fall, some riders may be going back to their cars for some trips.

Are you a WES rider or Highway 217 commuter? We’d like to hear what you think: Let us know at trimet.org/feedback.

More service, more riders

The demand for transit is strong in the Portland area, and we’re excited to be in a position to grow our system again. As we add more service on the street, more people are noticing (and taking advantage of it!).

Where do we go from here? We’re looking ahead and planning future improvements, particularly for bus service. We’ve been asking riders in different parts of town what improvements they’d like to see as resources become available. Learn more and share your vision for the future of transit in your community »

Want to dig in to the data? Check out our complete performance dashboard and sign up to get updates by email »

Brian Lum

Brian Lum

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Specialist. I'm here to help tell our story, and to share the interesting things I find along the way. When I'm not here, you'll find me out riding my bike and taking pictures.

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TriMetiquette: You told us what makes you cringe on board

Back in February, we asked for feedback about which transit etiquette, or “TriMetiquette,” rules riders should follow. Well, the results are in!

After sorting through 1,071 responses of what bugs you while you ride, we’ve narrowed it down to three TriMetiquette sub-categories: Noise, Gross and Space.

noise_header

About 45% of the responses mentioned annoyances involving noise. Two hundred and seventy-seven responses were about people talking too loud while on board (“Speakerphone is not for the bus!”), and about 207 replies referenced riders playing music or games too loudly on their personal devices.

“Turn your music down, we can all hear it coming from the headphones and it sounds awful. Keep your voice down during both face-to-face and phone conversations—if the phone connection is poor, call them later—we don’t want to listen to you yell into thin air.”

gross_header

This sub-category covers a range of pet peeves including feet on seats and smoking (“People always ignore the non-smoking signs and smoke right next to passengers”) to odd smells (“Bathe, for the love of all that’s holy, and not in Axe.”) and offensive personal grooming habits (“No cleaning your ears or clipping your fingernails on the bus”).  Overall, 51% of the received feedback fell into this category—164 replies were specifically about feet and dirty shoes on seats.

“No feet on the seats! I think that feet on the seats is unclean, gross and it makes it difficult for other people who really need a seat (when the bus or train is full).”

space_header

Leading the way with a whopping 639 replies and 60% of the responses were frustrations about space. Riders really can’t stand seeing other riders take up more than one seat (“One butt, one seat”), stand too close for comfort (“Please do your best not to lean on your fellow passengers”), exit the bus from the front (“Remember, exiting by the front door keeps everyone waiting“), or hop on the train before letting others off.

“Stop blocking the door when people are trying to get off the MAX.  Stand back and let people exit before getting on.”

But the pet peeves don’t stop there—we also received plenty of feedback about practicing common courtesy, like giving up your seat to seniors, people with disabilities or others who could really use is, and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze

We want you to have an enjoyable ride, but that can’t happen without your help. So, let’s be considerate to one another, use headphones while we ride, keep our belongings  on the floor and our feet off the seats!

Jessica Ridgway

Jessica Ridgway

I'm TriMet's Web and Social Media Coordinator. I develop content for our website and social media channels. I'm a daily MAX rider and an adopted Oregonian.

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx visits Portland

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Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx stands with TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici on the Tilikum Crossing, Portland’s newest bridge, scheduled to open September 2015.

Earlier this week, United States Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx visited the Tilikum Crossing and the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project, highlighting how transit creates ladders of opportunity to help Americans get to the middle class.

Tilikum is a Chinook word meaning people, tribe, or family. The name honors the people who lived in the area as long as 14,000 years ago. While the name reflects on our past, this Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project is an investment in our future.

Transit is vital to our future prosperity. 

From getting employees to work, to cost effectively easing congestion, to giving seniors, youth and people with disabilities full access to our society, TriMet plays a key role in shaping our region.

More than two decades in the making, the Portland-Milwaukie project demonstrates what federal investments can do when we have the opportunity to plan for our future. The Federal Transit Administration’s $745 million grant was matched locally by a mix of public and private contributions.

To date, this project helped create nearly 12,200 jobs just when our region needed jobs most.

More than 500 firms have worked on this project, 80 percent from Oregon. Nearly 25 percent of these firms are Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firms—companies owned by women and people of color. DBE firms have earned more than $168 million in contracts through this project. Men and women working in the construction trades have logged more than two million hours and earned more than $101 million in wages and fringe benefits.

We are proud and honored to have Secretary Foxx’s support. Mark your calendars—the MAX Orange Line will open on time, and on budget, September 12, 2015.

Read Secretary Foxx’s blog post about his visit to Portland at dot.gov

 

Neil McFarlane, TriMet General Manager

As the General Manager of TriMet, I'm responsible for running the agency. I've been here at TriMet since 1991, when I started as project control director for the Westside light rail project. When I'm not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family and riding the bus and MAX. Maybe I'll see you during my commute.

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