Category Archives: Rider News

More service improvements are on the way

TriMet riders exiting bus

UPDATE: Bus and MAX service improvements took effect August 31, 2014. Check the new schedules to see if your trips are affected.

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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History in the making: Four finalists are announced in naming the new transit bridge

Transit Bridge

There were nearly 9,500 bridge name submissions to the bridge naming committee. We are very pleased so many people participated. Thank you!

Chet Orloff

Chet Orloff

I’d like to walk through how we came to select the four finalists’ names. During my 40+ year career, in Oregon history I have been involved with many similar ventures and I have to say, this was the most thorough and publicly inclusive and, therefore, the best.

First, the committee considers itself the “general public”—we live all over the region and together bring strong cultural, historical, academic, professional, and geographical experience and wisdom to the naming process. The ten of us represent the diversity of gender, age, geographic and cultural differences that characterize the tri-county region.

We met for the first time last September. We learned more about the bridge from TriMet staff and toured onsite to get a feeling for what the it will look like, its functions and what it may represent. We discussed our hopes and aspirations for the name. We live here like everyone else and like you, want a great name for a great bridge!

The committee reviewed other organizations’ naming criteria, debated what was most important to our region and finalized the selection considerations. Believe me, my 22 years on the Oregon Geographic Names Board came in handy!

  • Origin of name
  • Meaning of proposed name
  • Is it inspirational? If so, why?
  • Regional perspective
  • Does it reflect how bridge connects people? If so, how?
  • Historical significance (if any)
  • Biographical info (if commemorative)
  • Any special cultural meaning?
  • What will it mean 100 years from now?
  • Spelling
  • Pronunciation
  • Sound/ring/flow—does it “roll off your tongue?”

Other members of the public—everyone living here—were asked to help us, to use your imagination, historical research, creativity, cultural awareness, sensitivity, and to send us ideas that “might reflect local geography, Native American and more-recent history, area plants or animals, or other themes relating the symbolic nature of connecting the region.” In addition, we began with the directive that the name of the bridge “can evoke historical moments, remind us of names of noted community leaders, or suggest the beauty, wilderness and or wonder of the entire region.”

Committee members agreed that each of us must be fine with any name going forward being THE final name of the bridge. We also worked to unanimously agree on all names going forward. Unanimity for all final names was essential, we believed.

At the end of the day, committee members feel confident that this has been a thoughtful process, accomplished by thoughtful citizens—members of the tri-county community and of the committee. Our process was not a popularity contest. It was not about lobbying and who has the most clout. It was about selecting a bridge name that best reflects the region’s history, culture, and geography, and that holds the promise to connect and hopefully inspire us—not just now, but hundreds of years from now.

But it is not over, yet. Keep participating and tell us what you think of the four final proposed names. Thank you!

Learn about the final names and send us your comments!

New mobile ticketing app: 38,000 downloads and counting!

TriMet Tickets smartphone app

With our new mobile ticketing app, you can pay your fare with your smartphone.

If the numbers are any indication, TriMet riders are decidedly “on board” with the idea of paying their fare with their phones! As of today, our new TriMet Tickets app for Android and iPhone has been downloaded more than 38,000 times, and we’re seeing anywhere from 300 to 350 new downloads each day.

Why is mobile ticketing so appealing? For one, with no paper tickets to keep track of, boarding the bus or train is a breeze… Tickets can be stored for future use, and of course you can buy your fare whenever and wherever you want.

GET THE APP: Learn more and download the app to try mobile ticketing for yourself.

I’ve spoken with many riders about their experiences with the app, most of whom give it an enthusiastic “thumbs up.”

TriMet Tickets mobile ticketing app

The TriMet Tickets app lets you buy tickets and passes any time, anywhere (anywhere there’s an internet connection, that is). You can store tickets for future use, and even use multiple tickets for groups of riders.

However, since the TriMet Tickets app launched September 4th, we’ve also heard from a number of riders about issues ranging from occasional app freezes or slow response to crashes or even lost tickets.

Some of these problems are minor bugs that either have been fixed or will be fixed in the next version of the app. Others are larger issues that will take longer to resolve. We definitely want your mobile ticketing experience to be a good one, so don’t hesitate to contact us with any feedback as we work out the kinks with this new tech. (This is one of the first ticketing apps of its kind, after all!)

In the meantime, if you’re using the app, or considering downloading it, here are some tips and important reminders to get you started:

Pro tips

  • Activate your ticket before boarding. If you’re at a MAX station where fares are required, make sure you activate your ticket (by tapping the “Use” button) before entering the station area. Otherwise, activate your ticket when you see your bus or train approaching.
  • Watch your battery level… Just like with paper tickets, you’re responsible for making sure you have a valid fare at all times. It’s a good idea to carry a few paper tickets as a back-up just in case you find yourself with a dead battery.
  • A $5 minimum?! Yes, the payment processor’s cost structure is what’s driving the $5 minimum purchase, to avoid extra additional service charges. Sorry! But remember: You don’t have to use your tickets immediately. You can purchase two 2-Hour Tickets and use them any time you want. Regardless, we realize the $5 minimum doesn’t sit well with riders, so we’re looking at all our options as we continue to improve the app. 

Avoiding “lost” tickets

Some riders noticed that their tickets had disappeared after either reinstalling the app or upgrading their phone. Here’s how you can avoid losing your tickets:

  • Don’t uninstall the TriMet Tickets app or erase your phone without transferring your unused tickets first. Your tickets are stored on your phone (which makes it possible to use them without an internet connection), so uninstalling the app can permanently erase your tickets!
  • Create an account before purchasing tickets, as this is the only way you can transfer your unused tickets if you get a new phone later on. (Note: Only unused tickets can be transferred.)

More than half the population owns a smartphone these days, and mobile payments are gaining popularity in the U.S. We expect many more riders will be making the switch from paper tickets in the near future. With your help, we’ll continue to improve the app and make it as useful as possible. If we can make things easier for riders, and make our operations more efficient in the process, it really is a winning solution!

Looking ahead a few years, the TriMet Tickets app is the first step toward an electronic “contactless” fare system, where you’ll be able to pay instantly with your phone, contactless debit/credit card or fare card, by simply tapping on a sensor as you board. Watch for updates about electronic fares and how you can get involved. We expect to begin testing that system with riders in 2016.

For now, please continue to let us know how the TriMet Tickets app is working for you. Send us a note at mobileticketing@mt.trimet.org. Good or bad, we appreciate your feedback. You can also check our website for how-to videos and answers to common questions about the app.

GET THE APP: Learn more and download the app to try mobile ticketing for yourself.

Bringing back 15-minute Frequent Service

Frequent ServiceNext March, buses on 10 of our popular Frequent Service lines will come more frequently during the day. Thanks to an improving budget outlook, we are happy to begin restoring 15-minute service—which had been cut over the last few years due to the recession—starting with mid-day hours on weekdays.

Effective Sunday, March 2, 2014, we’re bringing back 15-minute service 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.

For riders, this means less waiting, shorter travel times and better connections. Plus, when buses come more often, you have 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. 

Before the recession, “Frequent Service” meant that buses and MAX came every 15 minutes or better throughout the day, every day. We had to temporarily reduce frequency on these and other lines due to budget shortfalls. Today, we are in a position to begin restoring service, due to increased revenue from advertising, and lower health insurance costs for non-union employees.

Restoring Frequent Service has been a top priority for me, and improving mid-day service is just the first step. It will probably take a few years to get back to 15-minute frequency all day, every day—meaning evenings and weekends, too—but that’s our goal.

Stay tuned for more details about the service improvements coming up in March and the restoration of 15-minute Frequent Service. Be sure to sign up for email updates for the line(s) you ride to get the latest service updates.  

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