Category Archives: Fun Stuff

Why We Ride: 7 Reasons Transit is the Way to Go

Savvy commuters already know that transit is the smart and inexpensive way to get around, but in case you need a little more motivation to leave your car at home, here are 7 reasons why transit is the best way to go:

#7 – It’s safer.

According to National Safety Council data, riding the bus is 170 times safer than riding in a car. And an Allstate Insurance study found that Portland is one of the least safe driving cities in the U.S.!

TriMet Rider#6 – You have options.

Whether or not driving is an option for you, TriMet provides the freedom to go where you want, when you want.

Fact: Each year, 11 million rides on TriMet are taken by seniors and people with disabilities. And TriMet’s LIFT paratransit service provides over 1 million rides per year.

#5 – Less stress.

When you let a professional do the driving, you don’t have to deal with traffic or worry about navigating or finding a parking spot.

Fact: According to Texas A&M’s annual mobility study, the average Portland-area commuter spends 44 hours a year stuck in traffic!

Me time#4 – More “me” time.

Instead of driving you can read a book, surf the web, text friends, get some work done, take a nap or just relax and enjoy the scenery.

Fact: Several research studies have shown that using your commute time to enjoy simple activities can make you feel happier and more relaxed. 

#3 – It’s healthier.

Taking TriMet helps us get more exercise because of the walking and biking we do going to and from our stops—it’s active transportation. Besides, it’s a great opportunity to get out in our community, meet neighbors and discover new things.

Fact: A study in North Carolina showed that light rail passengers were 81% less likely to become obese over time and would lose an average of 7 pounds over a one-year period. 

Shopping#2 – It’s actually pretty fun.

Transit is great for getting to and from work but it’s also a popular way to get to school, shops, concerts, libraries, and picnics in the park. Get out and explore your city!

Fact: 1 in 4 transit trips is for shopping and recreation.

#1– You save big on gas, parking and car payments.

Obviously, when you ride TriMet you don’t have to pay for parking or gas. And if you go completely car-free, it could also mean no loans, insurance or tune-up costs.

Fact: According to the American Public Transportation Association, transit riders in Portland can save up to $950 a month ($11,401 a year). 

These are some of the most common sentiments about the value of taking transit, but we all ride for different reasons. How about you—What is your inspiration for catching a bus or boarding the train?

WEIGH IN: Discuss this post on Facebook

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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Set yourself up for a happy, healthy year—We can help!

A new year can inspire us to set resolutions and make better choices. Here are just a few ways transit can help you achieve a healthier, happier lifestyle and a cleaner environment.

Want to improve your health this year? Try taking public transportation!

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommend that adults average at least 22 minutes of daily moderate physical activity, such as walking, to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation

Incorporating transit into your commute encourages you to walk or bike as part of your daily routine. TriMet ridership studies show that bus riders will walk as much as a quarter mile to their bus stop, while MAX riders will walk up to a half mile to connect to light rail.

Watching your figure? Transit helps with that, too.

walk
According to the Federal Transit Administration, light rail commuters are 80% less likely to become obese over time, and studies have found that men who commute to work on public transportation are 44.6% less likely to be overweight or obese because they are more active.

Become more zen this year: Public transportation reduces stress.

zenThe average American driver can spend up to 450 hours each year behind the wheel, resulting in rising levels of frustration and stress that can really take a toll on one’s health and quality of life. Transit provides riders with the opportunity to relax—something not available to drivers stranded in traffic.

Clean the air with transit.

cloudMore than four tons of pollutants are avoided every day when people choose to ride TriMet instead of drive cars. Electric-powered transit such as MAX Light Rail and Portland Streetcar, along with our clean-running diesel buses, make transit a benefit to public health and help us all breathe easier.

Learn more about the health benefits of public transportation.

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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10 reasons why 2014 was a good year for TriMet riders

Riders, it’s been a heck of a year.

We had our fair share of challenges—from freezing rain in February to a rare MAX derailment to an early “Snowvember” storm. Plus, MAX reliability really took a hit this year, which is why we’re scheduling some much-needed upgrades to tracks, signals and switches to get us, well, back on track.

Despite the rough patches, 2014 actually brought a bus load of good news for riders. (And no, we’re not talking about the now twice-a-year Streetcar Mobile Music Fest or even the much-anticipated return of Poetry in Motion.) Here are 10 highlights:

old_new11. 90 (more) new buses joined the fleet.

This year, we sent 90 of our oldest buses to the scrapper and replaced them with new, state-of-the-art buses made in the USA by Gillig. They’ve got a ton of new features, but you’re most likely to notice the easy-to-clean vinyl seats, low floors for easy boarding, brighter exterior signs and smoother ride. And, in time for next summer’s heat wave, all of our 650 buses will have air conditioning. (Finally!) By 2017, the average age of our fleet will be eight years—the industry standard. And if you’ve ever wondered what happens to a bus after it’s “retired,” you really should watch this oddly satisfying video of a bus getting scrapped at the recycler.

busblade-frequent2. Frequent Service is back.

Remember when “Frequent Service” meant every 15 minutes or better throughout the day, every day? Unfortunately, after the economy tanked in 2008, we had to cut back the frequency on buses and MAX due to budget shortfalls. Now, we’re gradually adding back service: In March, we increased weekday mid-day service to every 15 minutes on Frequent Service bus lines. In August, we bumped up weekday evening service on both buses and MAX. And in November, we added buses on various lines to improve connections and relieve crowding—especially at rush hour. More to come… Stay tuned!

3. There’s a new bridge in town.

It’s hard to miss the striking silhouette of the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People, rising up over the Willamette just south of Downtown Portland. When the new MAX Orange Line opens next September, the bridge will carry trains, buses, bicyclists and pedestrians to and from destinations in the South Waterfront district, Southeast Portland and Milwaukie. Fun fact: At more than 1,700 feet across, it will be the longest car-free bridge in the U.S. This fall, we tested its aesthetic lighting system—a fantastic public art installation created by artists Anna Valentina Murch and Doug Hollis that changes colors based on the river’s speed, height and water temperature. Want more bridge? There’s not much to see now that civil construction is complete, but you can still geek out on our live video feed from our BridgeCams.

tvm4. Ticket machines work better now. A lot better.

For a while there, it was pretty bad. You know, that sinking feeling when you discover that the ticket machine is out of order… again. We felt your pain and made some big changes to the way we service, track and manage the machines we all love to hate. Last year, we replaced our oldest machines, updated software and overhauled our maintenance procedures. Today, our ticket machines are up and running around 98% of the time. Now, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever see an out-of-service machine—It’s going to happen from time to time. But it’s safe to say the days of “those $#%& ticket machines” are in the past.

5. We have a fair and sustainable labor contract.

If there’s one thing we’re thankful for this year (besides our riders, of course!), it’s a sustainable labor contract. Why is this good news for riders? Our new agreement with Amalgamated Transit Union 757—the union representing the majority of TriMet employees—puts us on a sustainable financial path while providing a fair and competitive benefits package for our team. It’s a huge step forward for TriMet, for our employees and for riders, because it means we can come together and focus on our common goal of making our existing service better and expanding our system to meet the growing demand for transit.

youth-pass-ticket6. Youth fares went down.

In September, we lowered the Youth fare (the reduced fare for ages 7-17 and students in grades 9-12 or pursuing a GED). The Youth 2-Hour Ticket price dropped from $1.65 to $1.25, and the Youth 1-Month Pass fell from $30 to $28. We’re hoping this will make transit more accessible and affordable for our younger riders, and make it easier for families to get their kids to school, jobs and other activities.

7. Tickets will soon be valid for 2 1/2 hours.

Ever wished you had a little more time on your ticket? As of March 2015, we’re extending the transfer time on 2-Hour Tickets to 2 1/2 hours. OK, so “2 1/2-Hour Ticket” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but that’s beside the point: You’ll have 30 more minutes to complete a trip or make transfers between buses and trains. A community advocacy group first brought up the idea of extending the transfer time a few years ago. We knew riders also wanted more frequent service, so we felt it wasn’t something our budget could accommodate, until now. But like many of you, we know that a little extra time can go a long way!

8. Crime went down 20% systemwide.

In April, we got word that reported crime on TriMet had dropped 25% on average in the previous year. On buses, there was one reported crime in every 255,000 trips. On MAX, one in every 91,378 trips. (Most of these incidents involve property crimes such as theft.) We believe this is due in part to community policing efforts and a neighborhood approach to crime prevention, along with increased Transit Police presence and more than 4,400 security cameras systemwide. It’s also worth mentioning that crime on TriMet pretty much mirrors the surrounding communities: A few high-profile incidents might make the evening news, but riding transit is as safe as walking down a busy sidewalk or going to the mall.

metro-brt-art9. BRT is coming to Powell and Division.

Another standout in the “good news” category: This summer, the Powell-Division Transit and Development Project selected bus rapid transit (or BRT for short) as the best way to improve transit on Powell Boulevard and Division Street. Those are two of the Portland area’s busiest and most congested streets, and thousands of people depend on the 4-Division and 9-Powell buses to get to work each day. BRT will make commuting between Gresham and Downtown Portland faster, easier and safer, with upgraded stations, limited stops and possibly even dedicated lanes. New service could begin around 2020. Learn more about BRT on Powell and Division

10710312_10154858702060473_4404152704493123144_o10. Get ready to “tap on.”

It’s official: You’ll be able to use a fare card, smartphone or credit/debit card to pay your fare in the not-so-distant future. This year, we broke “digital ground” on an electronic fare system that will make it easier and more convenient to get around on TriMet. It’s easy: Just tap your card or phone on the reader as you board the bus or train. You’ll be able to load value onto your account by phone, on the web or at grocery/convenience stores. Plus, there will be daily and monthly pricing caps, which means free rides and savings if you ride frequently. Best of all, there’s no need to carry cash, find exact change or keep track of paper tickets. (Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to pay with cash if you want.) We expect to begin testing the new cards with riders in 2016. Sign up here to get the latest e-fare updates by email

 

It goes without saying the last few years have been a bumpy ride for Portland-area transit riders… Thankfully, with the improving economy—and now a sustainable labor contract—we’re in a position to start growing service again.

In 2015, we’re going to continue focusing on bringing you safe, reliable and convenient transit service. (And more of it!) On behalf of the more than 2,600 employees in our TriMet family, here’s to a safe and happy 2015 to you and yours. See you on board!

Dave Whipple

I'm TriMet’s senior marketing communications coordinator in charge of interactive media. I manage online initiatives and help build useful and usable online tools for riders. I also moonlight as a musician in my spare time.

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How Tilikum Crossing lights up the night

You’ve probably been bombarded with status updates and photo galleries of the new lighting system on the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People. We just finished our second lighting trial where the artist fine-tuned the color and motion program and its relation to the Willamette River’s activity.

Sadly, the lights will not be turned on permanently until September 2015, when the new MAX Orange Line opens. So until then, here are some interesting tidbits of information about the lights to hold you over.

  • The lighting system was created by San Francisco artist Douglas Hollis and his wife, the late Anna Valentina Murch, for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project’s Public Art Program.
  • There are 178 LED lights aesthetically placed on 40 bridge cables, the four transmission towers above and below the deck, and on the Sonic Dish artwork along the Eastside Esplanade and future Willamette Greenway at the ends of the bridge.
  • The lights change colors based on the Willamette River’s speed, height and water temperature.
  • This data is collected by a U.S. Geological Survey river monitor near the Morrison Bridge.
  • Specialized software designed by programmer Morgan Barnard takes that data and translates it into movements of color and light across the bridge.
  • The water temperature determines the base color.
  • The river’s speed controls the pace the colors change and move across the bridge.
  • The river’s height is displayed by a second color that moves vertically up and down the towers and the cables.

Learn more about the MAX Orange Line, opening in September 2015!

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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10 must-do events for the Ho-Ho-holidays!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so get into the holiday spirit without the hassle of traffic, parking and gas! Gather up your friends and family, purchase some 1-Day Passes and let us take you to these holiday events in the Portland-Metro area.


Santaland at Macy’s

November 28 – December 24
Stop by Macy’s in Downtown Portland and meet Santa! You’ll find him on Level A. Don’t forget to have your photo taken with Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, and check out the restored original monorail next to the train garden.

Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo.ZooLights at the Oregon Zoo

November 28 – January 4, 2015
You don’t want to miss the zoo’s annual winter festival. This year, experience a new train route through a never-before-seen light experience!

Holiday Ale Festival at Pioneer Courthouse Square

December 3 – 7, opens at 11 a.m.
Toast to the spirits of the season! The Holiday Ale Fest features more than 50 winter ales you won’t find in the supermarket. (Sorry! No one under the age of 21 is allowed to attend.)

America’s Largest Christmas Bazaar at the Expo Center

December 5 – 7, opens at 10 a.m.
Since 1982, the Christmas Bazaar has been considered both a holiday tradition and great place to shop for holiday gifts.

Christmas Ships Parade

December 5 – 20
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Portland’s Christmas Ships Parade on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. The first run will begin at 7 p.m. on December 5th down North Portland Harbor on the inside of Hayden Island.

TGrottoFOLchapel1he Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Lights

November 28 – December 30
With over 500,000 lights, 150 choral performances, a petting zoo, carolers, puppet shows and hot chocolate, this special event is sure to be a holiday treat for the entire family.

Super Colossal Holiday Sale at the Oregon Convention Center

December 13 – 14, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
More than 250 artists and crafters will be selling their handmade goods during this holiday shopping event. The first 150 shoppers will receive goodie bags on both days—don’t miss out!

Portland Menorah Lighting at Director Park

December 16 – December 23, 5:30 p.m.
Join Chabad of Oregon at Director Park for the annual Portland Menorah Lighting ceremonies. Take part in post-lighting dancing, latkes and apple sauce on December 16th.

The Lights on Peacock Lane

December 15 – December 31, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. (except 12/24 and 12/31, runs to midnight)
Houses in this Southeast Portland neighborhood have been decorating for Christmas since the 1920s. Don’t miss this Rose City tradition—you’ll find Peacock Lane between SE Stark Street and SE Belmont Street, one block east of SE 39th Street.

Celebrate Kwanzaa at the North Portland Library

December 27, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Each day of Kwanzaa recognizes a different value or principle. On December 27, Ujima, the third day, highlights the value of collective work and responsibility.


Don’t miss these opportunities to get into the spirit of the season—we’ll take you there!

Plan your trip at trimet.org

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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Take TriMet to holiday tree lighting events

Pioneer Courthouse Square TreelightingLet us help you get in the holiday spirit—take a bus or hop on the MAX to these accessible tree lighting events in the greater Portland area!

Portland: Celebrate 30 years of lighting the 75-foot tree in Pioneer Courthouse Square. The event runs from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, November 28th.

Lake Oswego: The tree lighting events at Bigelow Plaza and Millennium Plaza Park take place on Friday, November 28th at 5:30 p.m.

Gresham: Take part in the Spirit of Christmas on Saturday, November 29th, at the Arts Plaza. The lighting of the 60-foot Ponderosa pine tree will begin at 5 p.m.

Hillsboro: The annual tree lighting ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. on November 29th at the Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza.

Cornelius: Join the annual tree lighting ceremony at Veteran’s Memorial Park on December 5th. The event begins at 6 p.m.

Tualatin: Head to the Lake at the Tualatin Commons on December 5th for the city’s tree lighting ceremony. The countdown to tree lighting and Santa’s arrival starts at 6 p.m.

Tigard: On December 5th head over to Liberty Park for the Holiday Tree Lighting and Santa’s arrival! The event runs from 7 to 9 p.m.

Beaverton: The 11th annual tree lighting ceremony takes place December 5th at 7 p.m. at City Park (across from the City Library).

Sherwood: Catch the tree lighting event on December 6th during the city’s Winter Festival. The lighting ceremony takes place in Cannery Square Plaza after 4 p.m.

Milwaukie: The Tree Lighting Ceremony is set for December 6th—the lighting event follows the Milwaukie Umbrella Parade and should begin around 4:45 p.m. at City Hall.

Fairview: Join the city’s eighth annual tree lighting on December 6th at 6 p.m. The event takes place at Fairview City Hall and Community Park.

Oregon City: The annual tree lighting event downtown begins at 5 p.m. on December 6th. Following the lighting ceremony is the opportunity to sit and take your picture with Santa!

Avoid the hassle of traffic and parking and allow us to get you to the festivities—plan your trip at trimet.org.

I’m running the entire MAX Blue Line in a “TriMet Ultramarathon”

Steven Wong
Steven Wong

My name is Steven Wong and I’m on a mission.

In 2013, I ran 26 races before my very first marathon, the 2013 Portland Marathon. This year, 2014, has been a Marathon of Marathons where I completed nothing but half marathons, full marathons, and one ultra marathon.

Before the end of this year on December 1st, 2014, I will be running the entire MAX Blue Line from Hillsboro to Gresham, to inspire the human race and to celebrate TriMet’s 45th birthday!

I want to change [the tragedies in my life] into a motivational story to inspire people to keep moving forward, keep turning the pages of their stories, and keep chasing their dreams.

My life is filled with unfortunate events that have made it so painful in so many ways. I want to take all the tragedies in my life and change them into something inspirational. I want to change it into a motivational story to inspire people to keep moving forward, keep turning the pages of their stories, and keep chasing their dreams.

TriMet Ultramarathon

The MAX Blue Line is 32.7 miles long, stretching across four different towns (Hillsboro, Beaverton, Portland, and Gresham). I will be taking the sidewalk and side roads to meet up with my Support Team at each of the 47 stops along the way. Please spread the word of my journey and tell others about this marvel of a milestone! You can follow my progress on Monday on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

What: Steven Wong’s TriMet Ultramarathon
When: Monday, December 1st, 2014 — start time is 7 a.m.
Where: All 47 stops along the entire MAX Blue Line