Category Archives: Rider News

We’re testing an all-electric bus

Electric Test Bus

Photo courtesy of John Vincent/Portland Tribune

If an especially quiet silver-and-black bus rolls up to your stop, rest assured… it’s a real TriMet bus! Well, at least for a while it is. Starting June 23, an all-electric test bus will join the fleet for about two weeks as we try out the latest in environmentally friendly bus technology.

BYD electric bus facts:

  • Battery lasts up to 24 hours
  • Charges in 2-4 hours
  • No transmission or internal-combustion engine
  • Battery is disposable and pollution-free
  • Zero emissions

The zero-emissions, American-made bus will run on various TriMet routes between June 23 and July 3, providing extra trips between scheduled service on weekdays. (It doesn’t have a fare box, so rides will be free!)

On loan from the manufacturer, BYD Motors, Inc., this bus can go 24 hours on a single charge, and the battery is disposable and pollution-free. Initial testing also suggests a big cost savings on fuel and maintenance compared to diesel, compressed natural gas and hybrid-electric buses—even other electric buses.

As the Portland area moves toward more renewable sources of energy, we’re exploring other fuel-efficient options for our bus fleet.

We’ve applied for a grant from the Federal Transit Administration to purchase nine all-electric vehicles and charging stations. This test is an opportunity for us to “kick the tires.”BYD logo

Have you ridden the BYD electric bus? We’d love to hear your feedback! Email us at comments@trimet.org or call 503-238-RIDE (7433) option 5.

Here’s a great video from our friends over at portlandtransport.com:

9 new apps in the TriMet App Center

Transit apps on phonesHave you visited our App Center lately? We just added nine new apps for riders, all created by independent programmers using our open data. Thanks to these developers, TriMet riders have a variety of helpful trip tools available to help make their transit trips easier.

Check out the latest apps, all of which are free of charge:

  • Nimbler: Searches for nearest stops, provides arrival information, displays a map and vehicles on map. For iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • RideScout: Plans and compares transportation options. For iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Acehopper: Provides schedules and real-time information. For iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Walk Score: Provides transit scores and locates walkable apartments near public transit. For web browsers
  • TripGo: Plans transit trips. For iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, web browsers
  • PortlandBus: Searches for stops, provides arrival information, displays a map, plans transit trips, shows real-time traffic cameras. For iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Search Playground: Open-search tool for quickly finding arrival times and route info and planning trips from the browser search tool. For web browsers
  • Smart Ride: Searches for nearest stops, provides arrival information, displays a map, plans transit trips. For iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • efoBus: Searches for stops, provides arrival information, displays a map, plans transit trips. For iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android

We invite you to take these new apps out for a spin. And be sure to let the developers know how they work for you. They’d really appreciate your feedback!

See the complete list of transit apps available in the TriMet App Center

Note: These aren’t “official” TriMet products, so we don’t endorse, warrant or support any of the applications listed here. We tested them initially to make sure they work, but they are provided as-is. 

3 essential tips for keeping your smartphone or tablet safe on transit

Rider with smartphone

Do you carry a smartphone or tablet? More than half of us do these days, and with the popularity of TransitTracker, rider apps and mobile ticketing, we’re using our devices on transit more than ever. Here are some tips that can help prevent you from becoming a target for would-be thieves, and help recover your device if it is ever stolen:

1. Set up GPS tracking

Find My iPhone

If your phone or tablet is ever lost or stolen, having GPS tracking enabled can help you (and the police) find it.

If your phone or tablet is lost or stolen, having GPS tracking enabled can help you (and the police) find it. This is a quick, simple and free process for iOS and Android devices that can help police track down the thief.

2. Ride smart

The safest place for your electronic device is out of sight. Here are some safety tips if you use a phone or tablet on board:

  • Always be aware of what is happening around you.
  • Hold your device with both hands to make it more difficult to snatch.
  • Don’t use your device near train doors. Many robberies take place as the doors are closing, allowing the thief to get away.
  • White or red headphone cords are often a telltale sign that you have an expensive device. Consider changing the cord to a less conspicuous color.

3. If your device is stolen…

  • Never resist or chase a thief. No gadget is worth getting hurt!
  • Write down the thief’s description, including any identifying characteristics and clothing.
  • Immediately report to the police by dialing 911 or notify the operator or a TriMet supervisor.
  • Contact your wireless carrier. They can lock or wipe your device remotely, which makes it worthless to the thief.

More service improvements are on the way

TriMet riders exiting bus

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to say this: We’re increasing service again.

After several long years of service cuts and fare increases caused by the Great Recession, we are finally able to add more service.

This summer and fall, you can expect more Frequent Service, more new buses, better schedule reliability and less crowding:

  • More Frequent Service: This September, we’re adding weekday evening trips on our Frequent Service bus lines and MAX to restore 15-minute (or better) frequency into the evening hours. That’s good news if you ride Lines 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 14, 15, 33, 54, 56, 57 or 75. MAX Green Line will also run every 15 minutes or better into the evening hours.
  • Less crowding: Also in September, we’re adding more buses to Lines 4, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 33, 44, 76, 94 and 99 to relieve overcrowding.
  • Better schedule reliability: Schedules are changing on Line 71 (in June), Lines 20 and 87 (in September), and Lines 19, 22, 48 and 72 (in December) to better match schedules to traffic conditions and ridership.
  • More new buses: 90 new buses are joining the fleet in 2014, for a total of 249 buses replaced since 2012.
  • MAX reliability and safety: Over the next year, we’re investing in much-needed signal, track and switch improvements throughout the MAX system to improve reliability and on-time performance. 

We know riders want more and better service, and we’re excited to be in a position to grow the system again. These improvements should help reduce wait times, improve connections and give you a more comfortable ride.

Be sure to sign up for email updates for the lines you ride to get all the details about the upcoming changes.

Note: These improvements are part of our Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which assumes that the economy continues to improve and that the financial equivalent of TriMet’s labor contract proposal is accepted.

TransitTracker now shows “canceled” buses

TransitTracker on m.trimet.org showing canceled bus.

   TransitTracker on m.trimet.org showing canceled bus.

It already does a decent job of telling you if your bus is running late. Now, when the bus is not coming at all for some reason, TransitTracker can let you know.

Starting Monday, May 19, you’ll notice TransitTracker reporting some arrivals as “canceled.” We’re testing a feature of our new bus dispatch system that should make TransitTracker a lot more reliable when it comes to reporting canceled buses.

It’s important to know if the bus isn’t coming so you can decide if you want to wait, catch another bus or make other plans. This was the number one request from riders in a recent survey about how they use TransitTracker. (Thanks again to everyone who weighed in!)

Why would a bus be canceled? Construction, mechanical problems, accidents, weather conditions and other issues can result in a bus trip—or part of a trip—being canceled. That means some or all of the stops on the route won’t be served.

Until now, when a bus was canceled, TransitTracker would typically show a scheduled time (“2:45 p.m.”) instead of a countdown (“4 min”). That’s what the system does when there’s not enough data to predict an arrival time. But this is misleading because it implies that the bus is going to arrive at that specific time.

In other cases, TransitTracker would show an arrival countdown even though the bus trip had been canceled. After Due had come and gone, you’d wonder, “Did the bus just disappear?”

This is the phenomenon many riders know as “ghost buses.” And it’s particularly frustrating when you’ve been waiting at the stop for a while, only to find out your bus has… well, vanished!

Thankfully, our new bus dispatch system can identify canceled trips and pass that information along to TransitTracker. Now that we can flag those no-shows as “canceled,” there should be far fewer instances of ghost buses, and more reliable arrival information overall. (Note: This won’t get rid of all ghost buses, or any ghost trains for that matter. We expect to address those in future upgrades.)

This is a small but important improvement that we hope will make your life a little easier. We’d like your feedback, too. If you notice any issues with the new canceled-bus notices, or if you have any other comments about TransitTracker, please let us know at transittracker@trimet.org.

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New benches installed along Line 75 (and more to come!)

ad-bench

Roughly 600 new benches are being installed.

If you ride the Line 75-Cesar Chavez/Lombard, you may have noticed a new place to relax and rest your legs while waiting for the bus.

Roughly 600 benches are being replaced as part of a program funded entirely by Lamar Advertising.

The new benches are more durable and easier to maintain, and they’re now bolted down to the sidewalk or concrete pad.

leaner bench

“Leaners” are installed in locations where traditional benches don’t fit.

About 10 percent of the new benches will be “leaners,” similar to the leaning rails found at MAX stations. They provide an alternative to standing in locations where benches will not safely fit.

The shallower leaner allows for installation in areas where sidewalks are not wide enough to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards and accommodate a traditional bench.

A local woman-owned business, Decorative Metal Services, Inc., out of Vancouver, is building the benches and leaners.

We’re currently installing benches in North Portland along the 4 and 44 bus lines. Line 77 will be next. Installation will continue through December 2014 around the metro area.

What do you think of the new benches and “leaners”? Let us know at comments@trimet.org.

Mid-day riders: More frequent buses are headed your way!

Frequent Service

Here’s some good news: Starting Monday, March 3, buses on 10 of our popular Frequent Service lines will come more frequently during the day. Thanks to an improving budget outlook, we are now able to add 15-minute service—which had been cut over the last few years due to the recession—during mid-day hours on weekdays.

Buses will arrive every 15 minutes during the day on the following lines:

  • 6-Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
  • 8-Jackson Park/NE 15th
  • 9-Powell Blvd
  • 12-Barbur/Sandy Blvd
  • 14-Hawthorne
  • 15-Belmont/NW 23rd
  • 33-McLoughlin
  • 54-Beaverton/Hillsdale Hwy/56-Scholls Ferry Rd
  • 57-TV Hwy/Forest Grove
  • 75-Cesar Chavez/Lombard

We’re also adding more buses on Line 4-Fessenden/Division during weekday evenings and all day on Saturdays.

This means less waiting, shorter travel times and better connections. Plus, when buses come more often, you have a bit more flexibility in your schedule (and a better chance of getting a seat). Many of our mid-day riders depend solely on transit to get around, so we know that better frequency makes a big difference.

This is just the first step toward restoring our Frequent Service network. It will probably take a year or two to get back to 15-minute service (or better) all day, every day—meaning evenings and weekends, too—but that’s our goal.

We’d love to hear how this change affects you. And as always, we welcome your comments and suggestions about your trips on TriMet. Thanks for riding, and we’ll see you on board!

Preview the new schedules effective March 3

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