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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
To the women who make TriMet and our community stronger, smarter and safer: Thank you.