Category Archives: Rider News

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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I-205 bike/ped path undercrossing at Division Street improves transit access

Jeff Owen riding on the new I-205 bike/ped path undercrossing at Division Street

Me trying out the new undercrossing below SE Division Street on the I-205 multi-use path. (I approve!)

Like many Portland-area residents, I enjoy riding on the many bike paths and trails around town, for fun and for commuting or connecting with buses and trains.

Now, thanks to a partnership between TriMet and the Oregon Department of Transportation, one of the most popular paths—the I-205 multi-use path—is even safer for cyclists and pedestrians. (The I-205 path runs 16.5 miles from the Clackamas River in Gladstone north to Vancouver, linking five cities and 10 different neighborhoods.)

Line 4 bus stop at Division

The new undercrossing at Division Street makes for easy transit connections between Line 4-Division and the MAX Green Line station.

Recently, I was among a group celebrating with ODOT as it opened the I-205 path’s new undercrossing below SE Division Street. The undercrossing is faster and safer for cyclists and pedestrians traveling north-south, and it makes for easy transit connections between Line 4-Division and the MAX Green Line station.

The undercrossing is one of many upgrades made to the I-205 path over the last few years. In 2010-11, TriMet and ODOT partnered to add lighting along portions of the corridor between Lents and Gladstone. During the construction of the MAX Green Line, we built a new elevated crossing over Foster and Woodstock, improved bus connections and crossings, added direct access and bike parking at every MAX station, and widened the path at several locations.

Recently, we collaborated with the City of Portland to install an enhanced crossing with flashing beacons and audible warning for pedestrians where the path crosses SE Division (just east of SE 92nd Avenue). This is particularly helpful for transit riders making connections between the Line 4-Division and MAX.

The I-205 path is an excellent example of how pedestrian and bike access can improve the transit experience. Whether you are walking or cycling to the bus or MAX, you need safe crossings!

Regional partnerships like the ones that are improving the I-205 path are vital in our effort to build a better transit system. Here’s to looking forward to more great alliances in the future, to improve our communities and our region.

Related: See how we’re helping cities and counties improve sidewalks and crossings

We’re adding arrival screens at more Blue and Red line MAX stations

Arrival screen at a MAX station in Downtown Portland

An arrival information screen at a MAX station in Downtown Portland

About the author: Drew Blevins is TriMet’s Director of Marketing and Customer Information.

More Blue and Red line MAX stations are getting arrival information screens this year, thanks in part to a $180,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

The digital displays, which are already in place at Green Line stations and on the Downtown Portland Transit Mall, show TransitTracker arrival countdowns for buses and trains, as well as service alerts in the case of a major delay or disruption.

Later this summer, crews will begin placing the first of 58 new screens scheduled for installation over the next year. We’re starting with Blue and Red line stations mostly on the west side, including Tuality Hospital/SE 8th, Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport, Orenco/NW 231st, Quatama/NW 205th, Willow Creek/SW 185th TC, Elmonica/SW 170th (eastbound), Merlo/SW 158th, Beaverton Creek, Millikan Way (eastbound), Beaverton TC, Goose Hollow (eastbound and westbound), and Convention Center (eastbound and westbound).

Then, this fall, we’ll start adding screens to eastside stations from E 102nd Ave MAX Station to Gresham Central Transit Center.

Green, Yellow and some Red Line MAX stations already have some kind of arrival display (either flatscreen monitors or reader boards). Within about two years, all MAX stations will be outfitted with screens so you have access to service information at-a-glance.

Questions or comments about our arrival screens? Discuss this post on Facebook

More reliable ticket machines, anyone?

Old scrapped ticket machines headed for recycling

These old, unreliable ticket machines are finally headed for the recycling bin! We just finished replacing 117 machines with brand-new machines, and we’ve seen a significant improvement in reliability.

Here’s some good news for anyone who has ever experienced a broken TriMet ticket machine. (OK, that may be just about everyone!)

Put simply, they’re getting better. A lot better.

117 machines replaced

Last month, we finished swapping out our oldest, least-reliable ticket machines with brand-new ones. Needless to say, the aging machines had lots of problems that were causing major headaches for riders. Today, I’m happy to report that more than half of our 213 ticket machines have been replaced.

New ticket machine at Cleveland Ave MAX Station

This new ticket machine at Cleveland Ave MAX Station is one of 117 machines that have been replaced so far.

Not only that, over the last few months we made some software upgrades and fixes to improve reliability, and we updated our maintenance practices to speed up repairs. We also upgraded the bill acceptors so there are fewer problems with rejected bills.

Better reliability

So far, so good: Complaints about ticket machines dropped 50 percent in June from the previous 12-month average. (That’s the lowest level of complaints in at least the past six years.)

Of course, we’ll continue looking for ways to improve the performance of our machines, whether it is with new hardware, software or preventive maintenance. Still, this is a step in the right direction. We know you expect our ticket machines to work when you need them!

Keep in mind, ticket machines have lots of moving parts and are used heavily each day—particularly in high-traffic locations. Wet, wrinkled or damaged bills can jam the bill acceptors, and vandalism can disable a machine as well.

Validators, too!

Next up? Validators. We get quite a few complaints about validators as well, some of which are 15 years old. Our maintenance crews just replaced the 20 oldest validators with new ones, and we’ll replace 20 more this fall.

Coming soon: mobile ticketing

More good news is on the horizon: In August, we’re launching a new mobile ticketing app for smartphones, which will let you buy and pay your fare instantly, anywhere, anytime.

Have you noticed an improvement in ticket machine reliability? Ticket machine or validator not working? Let us know at trimet.org/contact or call 503-238-RIDE (7433).

TALK ABOUT IT: Discuss this post on Facebook

New bus ticket printers go into action July 1

New ticket printer on a bus

Starting Monday, July 1, riders will grab their ticket/transfer from the printer to the right of the fare box. (No more flimsy newsprint transfers!) Plus, all single-ride tickets will be valid for exactly 2 hours from the time of purchase.

By now, you’ve probably seen (and maybe even used) the new ticket printers mounted to the right of the fare boxes on TriMet buses. Those toaster-shaped boxes allow your operator to print out a 2-Hour Ticket or 1-Day Pass instantly by pressing a button on the dash, instead of manually punching and tearing a newsprint receipt.

We tested a few of the printers on lines 17 and 70 earlier this spring, and we got good feedback from both riders and operators. After making a few tweaks, we installed the printers on the rest of the fleet. Now, they’re ready for prime time.

So what does this mean for riders? For one, it takes the mystery out of getting a bus transfer, as all single-ride transfers are now valid for exactly 2 hours from the time of purchase—just like MAX and WES tickets. You can board any bus or train to complete your trip until the expiration time shown. (It’s OK if your ticket expires while you are on board.) 

The tickets are also easier to read and more durable than the flimsy newsprint transfers. They look like other TriMet tickets, with a foil security strip and the expiration time printed on the front.

Old newsprint bus transfer

Old newsprint bus transfer

The old transfer system required the operator to manually adjust a “cutter bar” to change the expiration time for transfers, and punch each one with the ticket type and day code. The time given varied depending on the day of the week and where you boarded in relation to the end of the route. The new ticket printers simplify and speed up this process, and allow us make all transfers consistent.

Do you have feedback about our new bus ticket printers? Let us know at trimet.org/feedback or call 503-238-RIDE (7433).