Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

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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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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Bus Driver by Day, World Champion by Night

That bus operator you thanked as you exited the bus this morning? They may have a whole other set of super powers you never knew about.

Take Tofer Sneed, a TriMet bus driver since 2014. This April, Tofer took home gold at the Men’s Roller Derby World Cup in Barcelona, Spain. Watch to see him in action and to learn how he balances training with work:

Driving for TriMet is a great platform for pursuing your passions. Bus operators make more than $60k/year after three years, receive generous paid time off and get great medical, dental and vision benefits, even while working part-time.

Want to know more? Visit trimet.org/driveforus.

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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Coming Soon to TriMet: Electric Buses

It’s no secret that public transit is good for the environment.

Consider:

Every day TriMet eliminates more than 200,000 car trips, and a TriMet rider’s per mile carbon footprint is 60 percent less than a car driver’s.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t do more. This Earth Day, we want to share our plans for a project that could be a major step towards making Portland an even more environmentally friendly place.

Soon, five battery-electric buses will run along Line 62 in Beaverton. These buses, which were paid for by a federal grant and funds from Portland General Electric, make up a real-world test of battery-electric bus technology that will helps us determine if we can roll out these zero emission, whisper-quiet buses across the TriMet system.

Want to know more about these buses, including the seriously cool technology powering them, our plans for the pilot program and when and where you can meet them in-person?

Visit our Electric Buses page.

 

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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Celebrating The Extraordinary Women of TriMet

Here’s something you may have noticed if you’ve spent much time on our trains and buses: some truly exceptional women work for TriMet. The entire region benefits from their abilities, talents, and commitment.

For Woman’s History Month, we hosted a TriMet Women’s Pioneer Panel that featured ten extraordinary TriMet employees. Here are three of their stories.

Darlene Gastineau
Internal Audit Manager

Darlene was asked about the biggest obstacle she’s encountered and how she overcame it. In response, she told the story of her immigrant parents and large immediate family from China, so poor that everyone, even her mom and dad, slept in twin bunk beds.

She recalled working steadily in some form since she was a child. When in kindergarten she picked berries with her family.

Darlene continued to work and took out student loans to put herself through college. She became a single mother and at one point was forced to take legal action to protect herself against a man with whom she once shared a relationship.

What was most poignant and inspiring is that Darlene never saw these as obstacles and never let them stop her from moving forward in her journey. She had not even considered them challenges until asked to think about this question.

Darlene has been with TriMet for 11 years and serves as TriMet’s Internal Audit Manager.

Cindi Deibert
Manager of Bus Operator Training

When asked how she juggled work, family, school and other commitments, Cindi shared the time she was still a part-time bus operator.Cindi Deibert She worked a split shift – driving a route in the morning and another in the afternoon. At the same time, she was a wife, mother to twin girls and in school, pursuing a bachelor’s degree. One of her daughters is on the autism spectrum. She managed her 20-hour day through strict organization and prioritization.

Cindi urged the audience to set priorities and stay focused on what matters most – family. Cindi continues to help care for her daughter with autism, now 32.She works full-time as Manager of Bus Operator Training and is pursuing her master’s degree.

Cindy Kassab
Bus Operator

Cindy started driving for TriMet on April 6, 1976. She was 23 years old. More than four decades later, she’s still behind the wheel of a bus. Cindy hopes to extend her career with TriMet to at least 50 years, maybe longer.

Cindy KassabShe remembers a time when it wasn’t as easy to be a woman bus operator. She recounted a memory of a man who refused a ride when he saw who was behind the wheel. “Oh, it’s a woman driver,” he said. “I’ll wait for the next bus.” With a laugh, she told how the next bus came along and it was another woman driver.

Cindy’s interest in interest in photography began around the same time she joined TriMet. She’s now a master photographer of nature and wildlife. Cindy Kassab studied at the University of Portland. You can view her stunning photography on her website.

One definition of the word pioneer is to lead the way. What we learned from the panel is that these woman leaders of TriMet have been doing it all of their lives.

Interested in joining our team of extraordinary employees? We’re hiring.

Tia York

Tia York

I’m a Public Information Officer for TriMet. I’m here to help you understand our system, its people and how we all work together to make this place the best it can be. There was a time when I only took transit during emergencies, but the Orange Line changed everything. I hopped aboard one of the first trains to Milwaukie and never looked back. Transit transforms, empowers and unites.

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Leave Something Behind? Check Lost & Found

If you ever forget something on a bus or train, don’t despair. Found items are constantly being turned in to our Lost & Found department, and there’s a good chance we’ve got what you’re looking for.

Last year, we processed 24,000 (!) lost items. Here’s what we saw most often:

  1. Phones
  2. Wallets
  3. ID cards
  4. Bags
  5. Hats
  6. Bicycles
  7. Keys
  8. Personal items/mementos
  9. Umbrellas
  10. Backpacks

Everything we find is sent to our headquarters on SE 17th Avenue, where Lost & Found staff sorts and tags items. Claimed items are held for at least 14 days, though we’re happy to work with you if you need more time. Unclaimed items are eventually donated to charity (or destroyed if they contain personal information).

We’re still hanging on to this Portland Traction Co. student pass from 1948. (If you recognize the owner, let us know!)

Even though keeping track of your stuff is common sense, we know it’s not always easy. (Especially in the winter, when just your layers can be a handful!) So if you think you left something on one of our buses or trains, give us a call at 503-238-RIDE (7433) or report it online. We’d love to reunite you with your stuff.

Tia York

Tia York

I’m a Public Information Officer for TriMet. I’m here to help you understand our system, its people and how we all work together to make this place the best it can be. There was a time when I only took transit during emergencies, but the Orange Line changed everything. I hopped aboard one of the first trains to Milwaukie and never looked back. Transit transforms, empowers and unites.

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Our New 3700-Series Buses Are Rolling out Now

Something about that new car smell gives you a sense of opportunity. And right now, many of our riders are getting that same feeling as we put dozens of new buses out on the streets. These are the Gillig 3700 series, and by the end of January, we will have 57 of these American-made machines in service.

Aside from the smoother, quieter ride that comes with advancements in technology (and that new car smell), you may not notice many differences between the 3700s and the 3600s. But if you’re a regular rider, you will eventually experience a big change: fewer rides in older buses, many of which have out-served their expected lifespan.

Do you know the average service life of a bus?

It’s 12 years, according to the Federal Transportation Administration. During that period, a TriMet bus will typically have:

  • At least one new engine installed
  • One transmission replacement, maybe more
  • Between  750,000 and 1 million miles!

The 3700s, along with the addition of 64 more new buses next year, will help bring the average age of our fleet to seven or eight years. We’ve already started retiring and decommissioning some of our oldest workhorses, many of which provided service for 15 or more years.

While new may be nice, the 3700s represent a lot more. They are a sign of the times, and of our commitment to more and better service. In the next few years, you’re going to see a lot more from us. We’re expanding and increasing frequency on our most popular routes, improving reliability in areas plagued by congestion and providing new service to meet our community’s growing and changing needs.

We’re also working to meet the needs of operators, who spend hours and over time, days, weeks, even months behind the bus’ 18-inch steering wheel. We worked with Gillig and other partners to make the operator area safer, easier to use, more ergonomic and more comfortable. There’s a new generation driver’s seat with a gel-foam pad, built-in bellows for lumbar support and air bellows for seat height adjustment.

Today’s buses still run on biodiesel, but the technology has changed. Our newest Gilligs use clean air diesel engines with built-in systems that remove many pollutants before they reach the air. (We’re taking our commitment to clean air even further next year, when we begin testing electric buses on Line 62.)

We are working to make transit better. Hop on board one of the 3700s and enjoy the ride!

Tia York

Tia York

I’m a Public Information Officer for TriMet. I’m here to help you understand our system, its people and how we all work together to make this place the best it can be. There was a time when I only took transit during emergencies, but the Orange Line changed everything. I hopped aboard one of the first trains to Milwaukie and never looked back. Transit transforms, empowers and unites.

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Driving a Bus Is Just One of This Operator’s Many Talents

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.

Brian Lum

Brian Lum

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. 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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Hollywood Transit Center: Looking to the future, remembering the past

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.

Learn more about the tributes and sign up for email updates

Roberta Altstadt

Roberta Altstadt

I’m TriMet’s public information officer. I communicate with the news media on all TriMet-related topics. When I’m not busy working, I like learning new skills, gardening, and going for walks with my sweet three-legged dog, Ernie.

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