Category Archives: Rider News

Our Year in Review: 2017

How do we summarize a year like this?

Normally, we’d share some facts and figures describing what we accomplished and the challenges we faced. But 2017 wasn’t so straightforward.

Looking back, we’re happy to say that we made some huge strides that included introducing a new fare system and upgrading some of the oldest parts of the MAX system. But we were also tested in ways we never expected, and in the end it was the strength of our community that got us through. Now we’re entering 2018 with a strong sense of who we are and where we’re going.

A snowy start

We began the year in the middle of an epic winter. Temperatures didn’t rise above freezing for a week after a huge January storm and the resulting blanket of snow and ice made getting around extremely difficult.

Snow in January

Keeping our buses and trains moving throughout the winter’s record snowfall required extraordinary effort — and extraordinary patience from our riders (thank you!). When the going got tough, your positive attitude and understanding helped push us through.

Going into this winter, we’re keeping in mind something we noted back in January: Be prepared for the next big storm, because it could come as soon as tomorrow.

Making MAX better

Spring arrived not a moment too soon. We had been looking forward the year’s big MAX project, which involved improving the tracks along Morrison and Yamhill streets in Downtown Portland.

As eager as we were to start the work, we were also anxious about asking commuters to adjust their schedule for three full weeks. We knew that having a smoother and more reliable ride would make it worth it in the end, but that would require lots of trust and cooperation. Looking back, our riders deserve all the credit in the world for stepping up and working with us — the days flew by and the project was completed on schedule.

We did some work on some of our other MAX stations this year, too. At Gresham City Hall, we renovated the shelters, installed arrival monitors and made safety and security upgrades. Over on the other side of town, we gave the Washington Park station a stunning (and much-needed) makeover, just in time for the annual ZooLights crowd.

Heartbreak at Hollywood

Just a week after the MAX improvements were completed, everything changed. On the afternoon of May 26, two young riders were harassed on board a train near Hollywood Transit Center. Three men intervened and were attacked — two of them, Ricky Best and Taliesin Namkai-Meche, were killed.

Our whole community was left reeling, and in many ways we still haven’t recovered.

Just as that memory will always be with us, we’ll also remember what happened in its wake. In the moments, days and weeks after the attacks, when the hurt was rawest, people came together and created something beautiful. Candlelight vigils were held, moments of silence were observed and helping hands were extended. The concrete walls of the Hollywood station were transformed by bouquets of flowers and thousands of messages left in chalk — the site of horrible tragedy became an overwhelming and unforgettable expression of love, unity and hope.

Though it was temporary by nature, that spontaneous memorial will live on. We’re planning a mural that will cover the ramp walls at the transit center, inspired by the chalk messages that have since washed away.

Adding some color

Our plans for public art didn’t end there. This year, we commissioned two expansive murals by Portland-based artists at MAX stations along the Banfield.

Daniel Duford’s mural, titled “The Green Man and the Cinder Cones,” tells the supernatural origin story of the landscape surrounding the NE 60th Ave station.

One stop east, at NE 82nd Ave, Alex Chiu’s “How They Grow” is a colorful celebration of family and community. Chiu’s three-year-old daughter, Mazzy, is featured in panels throughout the mural.

A new way to pay

When Hop Fastpass was released in July, we felt a wave of relief — but in many ways the adventure was just beginning. We had been dreaming up and developing our new electronic fare system for years alongside our partners at C-TRAN and Portland Streetcar, and we knew what we came up with was both rider-friendly and thoroughly modern.

But convincing tens of thousands of people to ditch their routine, whether they like to pay with paper tickets or use the TriMet Tickets app, is no simple task.

Luckily, Hop has benefits that sell themselves, like automatic reloading and caps on daily and monthly fares. New features have been added regularly, too, like the ability to pay with a mobile wallet or soon, the ability to use a virtual card in Android Pay (we’re the first transit provider in the world to do this). We also worked to make cards easily available from popular retailers like Fred Meyer and New Seasons along with ultra-convenient stores like Plaid Pantry. And it’s working: We’re seeing more and more taps every day, and the feedback we’ve received has been positive.

Keep Oregon Moving

This summer, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2017, also known as Keep Oregon Moving. This landmark package established statewide funding for transit — for the first time ever. It’s hard to overstate how significant this is for us, especially as we look for ways to serve our ever-growing region. We can’t thank Oregon lawmakers and Governor Kate Brown enough for their leadership, which will make transit even more accessible and put more service on the streets.

We expect to receive about $35–40 million annually through the bill’s employee payroll tax. A sum that large naturally raises the question: What are we going to do with it? Fortunately for us, we had a plan ready.

Starting next summer, we’ll launch a new low-income fare program that will make adults at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level eligible for half-price fare. This is something we’ve wanted to offer for a long time, and the new funding will make it possible.

The money will also go toward adding bus service. Over the last few years, we’ve worked with riders, businesses, cities and counties to identify the transit needs, wants and wishes for communities throughout the region. Now we’ll be able to provide more and better service quicker than we expected, with a focus on establishing more equitable service first.

After such a wild year, it’s good to know there’s so much to look forward to. Thanks for everything you shared with us in 2017 — whether it was your time, your support or your feedback — we truly appreciated it. We’ll see you on board in 2018.

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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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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Here’s How You Can Plan Ahead for a Natural Disaster

It’s never too early to start preparing for a natural disaster, so we’ve been working with city and county partners to put together an emergency plan in case something big — like Cascadia — hits.

If something disastrous were to happen, we’d keep transit running as long as roadways are usable. We’ve also been developing a transportation recovery plan with other local transit agencies to ensure we’re able to move people to and from emergency shelters and bring in resources if needed.

Do you already have an emergency plan in place? Here are some tips to help you plan ahead:

Learn more about planning ahead for a disaster.

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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Celebrating Two Years of the Orange Line

Can you believe it’s been two years since we opened the MAX Orange Line? Neither can we! But since September 12, 2015, more than six million rides have been taken on this line, and that number only continues to grow!

Learn more about the MAX Orange Line

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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Thanks to New Funds, Transit Is About to Get a Lot Better

For the first time ever, the Oregon Legislature has established statewide funding for general transit service.

This is huge, exciting news.

House Bill 2017 is a $5.3 billion package for improvements in Oregon’s transportation systems. It includes a new employee payroll tax specifically for transit, which will benefit public transportation throughout the state. We expect TriMet’s share to amount to about $35–$40 million annually, with funds becoming available in January 2019.

With a growing population and increasing congestion in the metro area — and with our most popular routes running at capacity — it’s easy to make the case for investments in more and better transit. Still, a new tax can be hard to swallow, so let’s go over some facts about how this will work and what we’ll do with the funds:

A low-income fare

We’re thrilled to be able to implement the low-income fare program we’ve been considering for the last year. This could mean half-price fares for individuals and families below 200% of the federal poverty level. (Based on 2017 guidelines, this would be available to individuals with an annual income up to $24,120 or a family of four with an annual income up to $49,000.)

This is a top priority because we believe everyone should be able to count on transit to connect them to jobs, services, school and appointments — regardless of how much money they make. Thanks to this new funding, we’ll soon be a lot closer to that vision.

More equitable service

We’ll also use the money to expand service to low-income communities. By extending bus routes and increasing frequency in these areas, we’ll provide better connections to employment, services and recreation. We believe that access to transit is access to opportunity.

Addressing congestion

Finally, we’ll prioritize adding bus service to the busiest corridors in the area. This funding will go a long way toward helping us keep up with the increasing demand for transit — especially in quickly growing communities. More than anything, we know that riders want more frequent service.

About that tax…

The bill was passed easily, and with more bipartisan support than predicted — highlighting Oregon’s urgent need for better transportation. And with the payroll tax portion of the bill come a few stipulations:

  • Employers are responsible for deducting the tax of one-tenth of one percent from an employee’s wages
  • The funds will be dedicated to public transit
  • The funds cannot be used for salary or benefit increases
  • The funds cannot be used for new light rail projects
  • Oregon’s larger transit agencies must report on progress toward the purchase of natural gas, propane and/or electric buses

What’s next

Elements of the bill Governor Kate Brown signed today, like the payroll tax, will go into effect July 1, 2018. We expect the transit funds to become available around January 2019.

As we noted above, we already have a blueprint for the low-income fare program. We also have plans for the bus service we’d like to add — these were developed over years with the help of riders, residents, neighborhood groups, governments, schools and businesses. Basically, we’re ready to begin putting the money to good use right away.

This couldn’t have happened without you

Your support has been critical to making this new legislation happen. By taking the bus or train, and especially by emailing, texting or sharing your thoughts with legislators in-person, you made the case for why transit works. We can’t thank you enough, and we can’t wait to bring you more and better service.

Want to stay in the loop about the transit improvements we make? Sign up for  Riders Club emails.

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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You Can Now Use Hop With Just Your Phone

Hop is here, and you can now pick up a card at the store and tap to pay your fare. For riders used to paying in cash or buying paper tickets, this is a huge improvement — Hop cards come with benefits like Auto-Load, fare capping and lost-card protection, and they can be reloaded in any number of ways, including with cash.

But one group of riders has been harder to convince to switch to Hop — and for good reason. TriMet Tickets app users love being able to pay with their phone because it’s easy, quick and convenient. Why mess with a good thing?

You can use Hop with just your phone — no card required — and it might actually be easier than using the app.

All you need is a debit or credit card loaded into Android Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. (Note that you aren’t loading a Hop card into your phone’s mobile wallet.) Then when you’re ready to go, just tap your phone on the reader at the station or on the bus. After a split second you’ll see the green check appear on the reader, and you’re good to go.

Try it: Set up a mobile wallet and pay with your phone

It’s that easy. When you pay with your phone, you don’t need to buy your fare in advance or remember to activate your tickets. In fact, you don’t even need to open an app.

Note that your phone is your proof of payment, so keep it handy (and charged!) in case a fare inspector asks to see it.

And even though you’re not using a Hop card, you’ll still be able to earn a day pass as you ride — perhaps Hop’s biggest benefit. For most TriMet riders, your first tap will cost $2.50 and will let you ride for 2½ hours. If you tap again after that, you’ll pay another $2.50, but your fare will be valid for the rest of the day (you’ve earned a day pass).

So, unlike with the TriMet Tickets app, you don’t need to choose which type of fare to buy before you ride, and you’ll only ever pay for the rides you actually take.

There are a couple limitations to paying with your phone. For one, only Adult fares are available. If you use Honored Citizen or Youth fares, you’ll need to get an actual Hop card. The other catch is that you won’t be able to earn a month pass this way — if you’re a daily rider, a physical card is the way to go.

So next time you ride, skip the app and try tapping your phone — you’ve just found a better way to pay.

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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Milwaukie Station Food Carts Open on the Orange Line

Take the Orange Line to Milwaukie and you’ll notice something new at the Main Street station: food carts!

In fact, the carts at the Milwaukie Station pod are the city’s first. There are 11 carts open now, with more to come.

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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What’s New at Gresham City Hall MAX Station?

The Blue Line MAX stations on the east side are some of the oldest in our light rail system, dating back to 1986. When the time came to renovate these stations, we had a list of updates to make them more comfortable for riders, while improving safety and security:

  • Renovating shelters
  • Installing new TransitTracker monitors
  • Installing improved lighting
  • Replacing the bumpy warning strip at the edge of the platforms

We recently completed the renovations at the Gresham City Hall station. Take a look:

The next east side station scheduled for upgrades is E 122nd Ave. Work there will tentatively begin in the fall.

Read more about improving the Blue Line

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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Hop Fastpass Has Arrived

Today’s the day — Hop Fastpass has arrived!

After years of development, installation and testing, our new electronic fare system is up and running. Now, riders can pay fare with just a tap — it’s that simple. Even better, we’ve introduced some huge new benefits to go along with Hop:

  • Earn passes and save as you ride. Gone are the days of choosing between single-ride tickets, day passes, week passes and month passes. Just tap every time you board, and Hop will only charge you up to the price of a day pass in a day. (Same goes for earning a month pass.) It’s a good deal for everyone.
  • Reload basically anywhere. Putting money on your card is quick and easy using the website, app or phone hotline, plus you can pay with cash at the store. For maximum convenience, set up Auto-Load to add money whenever your balance gets low and rest assured you’ll never be stuck without fare.
  • And starting soon, you’ll be able to use Hop without an actual card. (Woah.) The readers will accept mobile payments using Android Pay, Apple Pay or Samsung Pay, allowing you to pay Adult fare by simply tapping your phone. (Double woah.) You’ll even be able to earn day passes this way. (Triple woah.)

Ready to get a card? Find a nearby retailer or catch us at an event this summer. Happy tapping!

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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Watch Oregon Ballet Theatre Dancers on MAX

We recently joined up with the Oregon Ballet Theatre to shoot a promotional clip for their upcoming performance of Choreography XX in Washington Park. In the spot, junior company dancers Erika Crawford and Daniel Salinas show how easy it is to take transit to the Rose Garden — while dancing the entire time:

Choreography XX is a two-night engagement celebrating dance created by women. On the evenings of Thursday, June 29 and Friday, June 30, the company will perform new works by choreographers Gioconda Barbuto, Helen Simoneau and Nicole Haskins. Both shows will be free but seating in the Rose Garden Amphitheater will be limited, so plan your trip in advance and get there early!

RSVP on Facebook

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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