Category Archives: Rider News

Thanks for Your Patience During the Morrison–Yamhill MAX Improvements

Three weeks was a lot to ask.

Indeed, the work we completed along Morrison and Yamhill streets in Downtown Portland was more intensive than the two MAX improvement projects that preceded it. Over the last three weeks, we replaced four sections of the original MAX alignment, making for a smoother, more reliable ride.

SW 11th Avenue in the early 1980s

The work at the SW 11th Avenue turnaround involved replacing deteriorating 30-year-old wooden rail ties with composite ties and concrete, installing new switch machines and increasing the size of the drains underneath them. (The switches on Morrison got their own heaters, too.) We also replaced the crumbling asphalt infill around the rails with rubberized grout, which will last significantly longer and do a better job of preventing movement.

SW 11th Ave. during the Morrison–Yamhill MAX Improvements

Upon digging up the old rails, we realized we could do more work on our signal system than we had initially scheduled, so we installed new cable, too.

More straightforward was the work at SW 1st Avenue, where we installed new curved rails and poured the rubberized grout. This section of track had been replaced in 1996, but since curved rail wears relatively quickly, this was a perfect opportunity to do it again without further disruption.

Pouring rubberized grout around the new rail on SW 1st Ave

Meanwhile at the closed stations between the work zones, crews did some deep cleaning. Lights were replaced, signs were spruced up and tiles were fixed along the platforms.

And throughout it all, our amazing riders — you — adapted and persevered. (An even more amazing feat considering the protests that took place on the first day of the new commute!) This time around, it was a lot harder to avoid transferring to and from shuttle buses. Some trips had to be radically reconfigured, and some riders chose to skip transit altogether and bike, walk or carpool instead.

Riders transferring to MAX shuttle buses on SW Yamhill St.

Although coordinating service around the disruption presented as much of a challenge as the construction itself, the patience and understanding you showed us helped make everything go smoothly. We can’t thank you enough for that.

Now we’re back, and we’re better than ever. See you out there!

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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The Plan for Morrison-Yamhill

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.

SW 11th Avenue in the early 1980s.

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.

Learn more about the Morrison-Yamhill MAX Improvements project
Sarah Touey

Sarah Touey

I’m the resident engineer for TriMet’s Maintenance of Way projects. I seek out adventure by traveling and exploring other transit systems across the country, spending time at the beach with family and friends, and continuously remodeling our house with my husband Jarrett.

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How You Can Say Thanks on Transit Driver Appreciation Day

Around here, we say “thank you” to our bus driver. It’s a thing.

Yes, Portlanders are often mocked for being agonizingly polite, but in this case it makes sense — we say thanks to the people who make our coffee and serve our food, so why wouldn’t we say it to the people who drive us around? Wouldn’t it be weirder to not say thanks?

So in recognition of Transit Driver Appreciation Day (normally March 18, but we’re celebrating a day early because that’s a Saturday), we want to show our operators how small gestures can really add up.

Here’s how it works: You can leave a thank-you note for your driver(s) at trimet.org/tdad. Maybe you have a regular driver you’re especially thankful for, or perhaps you want to call them all out.

Your note will join hundreds of others, which will be broadcast on screens throughout the operator report rooms — putting your message right in front of the people it means the most to.

Leave a thank-you note for your driver

Bus and rail drivers make a tough job look easy, day-in and day-out. Let’s show them how much they mean to us.

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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VIDEO: How Light Rail Could Keep the Southwest Corridor Moving

The communities in the Southwest Corridor are no longer sleepy suburbs, with the traffic to prove it. As these cities continue to grow, light rail could play a huge part in keeping everyone moving.

Learn more at swcorridorplan.org.

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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The Hop Fastpass Beta Test Has Begun

Today we launched the public beta test of Hop Fastpass and, for the first time, riders have begun paying with a fare card on buses and at rail stations.

It’s a small step in some ways — there are only 250 people in the first group of testers, and not all of Hop’s features have been implemented — but it marks a significant shift in the way our region uses transit. Hop is a thoroughly modern system designed to make paying fare easier and more convenient. Smart features like Auto-Load and the ability to earn passes mean riders simply tap and go, with no need to think about which type of fare to buy, and a robust retail network and cash compatibility make Hop accessible to everyone.

As our beta testers put Hop through its paces, we’ll see how these benefits work in real life. We’re looking forward to their feedback, which will help us prioritize the improvements we want to make before Hop officially launches this summer.

If you’re curious (or jealous) and want to try Hop sooner, sign up for emails at myhopcard.com. We’ll be adding beta testers every couple weeks and rolling out new features like single-use tickets, compatibility with mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Android Pay, and the official Hop app.

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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2016 Year in Review

It was a big and busy year for us.

That’s the simple explanation. Though we didn’t have a marquee event like last year’s Orange Line opening, we added a lot of service and made some significant improvements. We also dealt with weather (hot and cold), protests and planned disruptions that required some significant service adjustments and plenty of your patience. And in the end, 2016 left us with plenty to be happy about — let’s take a look at the numbers:

2 MAX Improvement Projects

Back in January, chief operating officer Doug Kelsey shared our plans for improving MAX on-time performance. Since then, we’ve completed two major projects along segments of the original, 30-year-old alignment. In May, we spent two weeks replacing track and switches along First Avenue in Downtown Portland. Four months later, we did similar work in the Rose Quarter.

3500 bus

77 New Buses Arrive

Our newest buses (the 3500 series) hit the streets in March. Once all 77 were delivered we were able to say that new-model buses comprise over half our active fleet.

Over the next few years we plan to add more than 175 new buses, starting in a few weeks when we begin rolling out the 3600 series. This process will bring the average age of our fleet to the industry standard of eight years and — more importantly — ensure your ride is more comfortable and reliable.

97 Becomes Our Newest Bus Line

The growing communities of Tualatin and Sherwood got their first direct transit connection in June. Line 97-Tualatin-Sherwood was our first new bus line in years, and though it’s just a commuter line now we plan to extend it to Bridgeport Village and downtown Tigard in the future.

And thanks to the increased employer payroll tax that took effect this year, this is just the beginning of more and better service. We’ve got plans for increasing, expanding and introducing bus service throughout the region over the next 10 years.

wordpress header

3 Operators Earn Top Honors

Justina Carrillo, a mini-run (part-time) bus operator; Jeffery Evans, a MAX operator; and Alex Ohly, a bus operator joined exclusive company this year when they were selected by their peers as TriMet’s Operators of the Year. The three combined represent nearly five decades of safe driving experience and multiple Superior Performance Awards, and we are truly grateful for their service.

2 Weeks of Protests in Downtown Portland

Running safe transit — an essential service to many — amidst demonstrations in the city center — a right protected by the Constitution, as long as it’s peaceful — isn’t easy to do. But with cooperation between different groups and the diligence of our operators and field staff, it became possible.

How We Roll bus

3 Hours in Pioneer Courthouse Square

We set up shop in Portland’s living room one afternoon this summer to debut our How We Roll bus, which features 16 rider portraits on its sides. (There’s a wrapped train, too!) While we were there we handed out goodies and took photos for the next time we wrap a bus or train.

12 Year Absence from the Sellwood Bridge Ends

For the first time in over a decade, TriMet service is using the Sellwood Bridge, as Line 99 began its new route this month. It was all possible because the old Sellwood Bridge, which had a weight limit that restricted heavy vehicles, was replaced earlier in the year.

1 Year of MAX Orange Line

Our newest light rail line, along with Tilikum Crossing, celebrated a year of service in September. The time seemed to fly but in retrospect, a lot happened — including 3.5 million rides on the Orange Line and 775,000 bike trips over the bridge.

30 Years of MAX

After a proposed eight-lane freeway was nixed in the mid-1970s, the pioneering decision was made to consider how transportation affects quality of life. This led to the creation of MAX, one of the first modern light-rail systems in the country. On Sept. 5, 1986 service debuted between Gresham and Portland.

Thirty years, four new lines and millions of trips later, we continue to move a growing region.

MAX in snow

2 Snow Storms…in Two Weeks

Plus one back in January. Orchestrating transit in snow and ice isn’t easy. It requires extraordinary vigilance and quick responses to constantly changing situations from our staff — especially operators and field staff working out in the freezing cold. It also takes a lot of preparedness and patience from our riders, and we appreciate the understanding we were shown amidst the inevitable frustration and exhaustion.

20 New Operators Hired Every Three Weeks

We’re hiring drivers at a serious pace because in order to give riders more service, we need more people. We sweetened the deal, too, and boosted starting pay for part-time operators from $11.21 to $14.25 per hour during training. Ever thought about driving with us?

Hop testing

225+ Employees Begin Testing Hop Fastpass

Our new fare card is almost here — you probably noticed the readers on your bus or at the MAX station. Earlier this year, a small group of employees from TriMet, C-TRAN and Portland Streetcar began testing the system, tapping Hop cards to board buses and trains and managing their accounts online.

The first public beta test begins soon, so be sure to sign up for email updates if you’re interested in participating.

OK — that’s enough for this year. Thanks for riding, and see you in 2017!

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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