Category Archives: From the Archives

Red fish. Purple raindrop. Green leaf. Which one did you ride?

Introduced in 1978 with the opening of the Portland Transit Mall, the symbols below indicated TriMet service areas. At the time, the service area was organized into seven geographical regions, each with its own Portland-inspired icon: South, green leaf; Southwest, yellow rose; Southeast, brown beaver; West, orange deer; Northeast, purple raindrop; North, red fish; East, blue snowflake.

TriMet Sector Symbols
Seven service areas were created to make it easier for riders to find their destination.

So, let’s say you were in Downtown Portland looking to go to Southeast Portland. You’d catch Line 17 at any “brown beaver” stop along SW 5th Ave. If heading to Northeast, you might catch Line 17 at any” red fish” stop along SW 6th Avenue. The symbols helped people confirm that they were catching the bus in the right direction. They were easy—based on icons, not words or numerals.

Bus stop with purple rain drop

A vintage photo of a bus stop sign with purple raindrop sector symbol.

“I grew up with the sector symbols and loved them. It was this whimsical, Northwest-y, easy-going, almost  mythic way of labeling neighborhoods,” says Jessica Bucciarelli, who handles employee communications at TriMet and a lifelong TriMet rider. “They were practical—I grew up between lines 8 and 9, but if I was Downtown, I could catch almost any purple raindrop and get reasonably close to home.”

Success of the sector symbols were partly due to the fact that they were everywhere. They were on bus stops, schedules, system maps, and even the Yellow Pages. Literally all rider information included these sector symbols. 

Newer-of-the-old sector symbols

Later sector symbol designs.

But, they weren’t entirely intuitive;  people new to our area, for example, wouldn’t necessarily associate a red fish with North Portland. And, if you weren’t starting your trip Downtown—or if you didn’t live in a relatively transit-rich neighborhood—they were not helpful. In 2001, when our online Trip Planner was launched, it was clear what people needed: their bus number. Add to that the fact that many of the routes ran through more than one area.

Glenn Jackson's a purple raindrop!

Glenn Jackson’s a purple raindrop!

We’ve brought the sector symbols back to life by way of t-shirts. And, in commemoration of the t-shirt in the photo below (with Glenn Jackson modeling!), we’ve added this special design for purchase as well. We love the vintage vibe.

Visit the TriMet Gear Store and purchase one today!




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From the archives: Jerry the TriMet Rider TV commercial and behind-the-scenes Jerry photos

In the late ’90s, Jerry the TriMet Rider made his television debut in a stop-motion commercial directed by local animator Cameron Gray. It follows Jerry onto a bus, where he notices the air conditioning and frequent service (new concepts at the time), and dreams of the day when he can take the MAX Red Line to the Portland Airport for a vacation to the tropics. It’s silly and fun—check it out!

And, when searching around, we found some behind-the-scenes photos of Jerry. He looks like a fun guy to hang around. What do you think?

Hi! I'm Jerry!

Hi! I’m Jerry!

Jerry and baseball

What a playful guy!

Dreamboat Jerry

Flowers and groceries—the perfect man.

Jerry and dog

Man’s best friend.

Shopping cart Jerry

Gone shopping.

Do you remember Jerry the TriMet Rider?

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Looking back: Groovy TriMet advertisements from the 1970s

Who can remember the cool Schoolhouse Rock! illustrations and the catchy tunes, “Three is a Magic Number”, “I’m Just a Bill”, “Interjections” and “Conjunction Junction”? Following the vibe of the 70s, TriMet print ads and brochures were in hues of tomato orange, star-burst yellow and avocado green with silly, cartoon-esque graphics. Check them out below:

TriMet goes to the beach 1974

TriMet goes to Jantzen Beach

Take TriMet to lunch

Take TriMet to lunch envelope

Student pass apps 1975

Student pass application ad

Line 79 is your bus envelope

Line 79 is your bus envelope

Going Places envelope

Going Places Packet envelope

Basic bus riding

Basic Bus Riding brochure

A okay

Riding TriMet is a-okay brochure

We think these these old ads and brochures are just dandy. What do you think?

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Looking back: Do you remember Miss August Commuter 1961?

Another fun find from the archives is this vintage bus ad featuring Miss August Commuter 1961, Janet Zwick. In a campaign similar to New York’s “Miss Subways,” TriMet’s predecessor, Rose City Transit, showcased the photos and biographies of young, local women on buses throughout the Portland area. Women were chosen by the then-renowned modeling agent, John Robert Powers. His ideal was the girl next door, no “glamour gal types or hand-painted masterpieces.” Times have changed in the 52 years since this poster—you won’t see beauty pageant-type ads like this on today’s buses and trains.

Miss August Commuter - 1961

This poster of Janet Zwick appeared on buses throughout Portland in August 1961.

At the time Janet had a “penchant for pink and broiled grapefruit,” was an avid skier and swim instructor for the Red Cross, and was headed to the University of Oregon to study social services.

Do you remember these Miss Commuter ads? Do you remember Janet Zwick?

P.S. Anyone have good broiled grapefruit recipes to share?

Looking back: Portland transportation photos from 1882 to 1936

We’ve been proudly serving our riders for over 40 years. However, TriMet wasn’t the Portland metropolitan area’s first transit service. We went back to the “archive” and uncovered some stunning vintage photos of streetcars, buses, riders, operators, floods, muddy boots, 19th century Portland buildings, mustachioed gentlemen, ladies in hats and more. 

For more information on the history of Portland public transit, visit

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Looking back: TriMet advertisements from the 1970s and 80s (PHOTOS)

From disco to the suave-styling of Magnum P.I., the 1970s and 80s were quite a time. We went to the “vault” and discovered some fun TriMet print ads from that era.


For more information on the history of Portland public transit, visit

Take a trip down memory lane: TriMet monthly passes dating back to 1975 (PHOTOS)

Do you remember where you were in 1975? Were you even born? It’s always neat to take a look back at the life and times of past decades. What was the pulse of society? Is there a song, food, or scent that can instantly transport you back in time?

Here’s a sampling of TriMet monthly passes ranging from 1975 to the mid-1990s. Can you get a sense of the times by looking at the designs?


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