Category Archives: Rider News

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).

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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).

(More) new buses are on the way!

3100 series bus

A “3100 series” bus at our prep facility in June

It’s here! The first of 70 new buses is now on site at our prep facility in NE Portland.

The new buses (which we’re calling our “3100 series”) are even more fuel-efficient than the 50+ buses we purchased last year, and they have a few improvements for both riders and operators. They’ll be going into service gradually starting in Mid-July, replacing some of the oldest buses in our fleet.

Fresh from the factory

We expect to receive three to five buses per week for roughly 18 weeks this summer and fall. Each bus will be driven up to Portland from the Gillig factory in Hayward, California.

Then, it takes our crews about two weeks to get each bus ready for service, including DMV title, license and registration.

The new buses will be put into service at our Merlo and Center Street garages. We’ll replace buses that are highest on the “ready for retirement” list first.

What’s new for riders

New passenger seats

New composite passenger seats

  • Seats: The most visible change you’ll notice on the 3100s is the seats. They now have a composite seat frame that weighs less, costs less and should show less dirt and fingerprints than the stainless steel frames in the 3000s.
  • Boarding ramp: We’ve made boarding easier for customers by making slight modifications to the boarding ramp and adding a new ramp guard to help direct mobility devices farther into the bus before turning down the aisle. And a new ramp warning light inside the vehicle will alert riders on the bus that the ramp is going to deploy.
  • Efficient engine: The 3100 series buses have a 2013 EPA-compliant engine that has a bit more fuel and emissions efficiency than previous models. It won’t make your bus go faster, but the innovative cooling system we pioneered improves fuel economy by 5-10 percent. And the ultra-low-emission engine keeps pollutants out of the air.
  • Transmission: The transmission has a load-based shifting program that can tell when the bus is on a hill with a lot of riders, and shift accordingly to match conditions.

Other features

Like the buses we added last year, the 3100s come with standard air conditioning (hooray!), automatic stop announcements, easy-to-clean vinyl seats, larger windows, handrails and a gently sloping floor at the rear exit, a next-generation GPS dispatch/tracking system and improved windshield visibility for operators.

A better bus fleet

In addition to the 55 buses we purchased last year and 70 coming this year, we will be replacing another 184 buses over the next three years. By 2017, we will have replaced all of the remaining high-floor buses in the fleet (those with steps at the door), and reduced the average age of our bus fleet to eight years (the industry standard).

Learn more about the features of our next-generation buses

 

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One step closer to mobile ticketing

intro-(1)Heads up: Starting today, you may see riders flashing their smartphones instead of tickets as they board the bus. It’s OK, they’re not freeloaders… They’re testing a new smartphone app that is about to make things easier and more convenient for tens of thousands of TriMet riders.

Today, we released a test version of our forthcoming mobile ticketing smartphone app to around 150 riders as part of a month-long beta test.

We recruited for beta testers back in March, and more than 1,500 people applied. (To keep the test manageable, we unfortunately had to narrow it down to 150, but we were thrilled with the response!)

We’re already seeing some great feedback from riders as they experience the process of buying and using TriMet fares instantly on their phone for the first time. These testers are vital to the success of the app, as they will help us work out the kinks and make it as easy-to-use as possible before we release it to all riders later this summer.

TriMet is the first U.S. transit agency to offer a mobile ticketing app for use systemwide on both buses and trains. iPhone and Android users can just download the free app, register a debit or credit card in the secure system, and purchase tickets and passes instantly–anywhere and at any time.

At least half of our riders have smartphones, so for many this will be a welcome alternative to ticket machines and waiting in lines!

We partnered with the local startup GlobeSherpa to develop the new app, which will be more cost-effective for us than traditional paper ticketing in the long run. 

Don’t worry, we’re not getting rid of paper tickets any time soon. But mobile ticketing is an important first step toward an electronic fare collection system, which we expect to begin testing around 2015. Eventually, you will be able to choose among smartcards, debit/credit cards, smartphones with near-field communication, and mobile ticketing, to pay your fare. Stay tuned!

Learn more about the mobile ticketing app and sign up for email updates

Minor bus service improvements may be coming this September

TriMet Line 4 bus and ridersWhile TriMet’s long-term financial future is still uncertain, our Fiscal Year 2014 Proposed Budget has some good news for bus riders. It includes $2.1 million for minor service improvements on a handful of busy lines, which will help relieve overcrowding and improve schedule reliability.

The following changes, if approved, would take effect in September 2013:

4-Division/Fessenden There would be a slight increase in frequency on weekends to relieve overcrowding.
6-Martin Luther King Jr Blvd Time would be added to existing trips to better match schedules with traffic conditions on weekdays and weekends.
9-Powell Service would begin 1/2 hour earlier on weekday mornings.
10-Harold St There would be minor weekday schedule adjustments to better match schedules with traffic conditions.
12-Barbur/Sandy Blvd There would be a slight increase in frequency on weekend evenings to relieve overcrowding.
14-Hawthorne There would be minor weekday schedule adjustments to better match schedules with traffic conditions.
21-Sandy/223rd Ave Service would begin 1/2 hour earlier on weekday mornings.
33-McLoughlin There would be a slight increase in frequency on weekday evenings to relieve overcrowding.
36-South Shore There would be minor weekday schedule adjustments to better match schedules with traffic conditions.
37-Lake Grove There would be minor weekday schedule adjustments to better match schedules with traffic conditions.
47-Baseline/Evergreen Buses would run to PCC Rock Creek, via NW 174th Avenue and Laidlaw Road, instead of running to Sunset TC. There would be more frequent buses between Orenco/NW 231st Ave MAX Station and PCC Rock Creek on weekdays.
48-Cornell There would be more frequent rush-hour buses between Sunset TC and NW Stucki Avenue on weekdays.
62-Murray Blvd There would be minor weekday schedule adjustments to better match schedules with traffic conditions.
94-Pacific Hwy/Sherwood Mid-day express buses would be added and rush-hour local buses would be added between Tigard TC and Sherwood to improve transfer connections.

Learn more about the proposed improvements and how you can provide your feedback

April 19th: Conference call with General Manager Neil McFarlane

TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane

TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane

Nearly every week this year, TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane is meeting with riders throughout the metro area to hear first-hand about their experiences on the transit system. (If you’re not already in the loop, we announce these events a few days in advance on Facebook, on Twitter and via email.)

Here’s another opportunity to chat with Neil, ask questions, and weigh in.

This Friday, April 19, 2013, from noon to 1 p.m., Neil will host a telephone conference call with riders to answer their questions.

To participate in the call, you will need to click this link and sign up for a personalized call-in number and PIN. We ask that you register with your full name and the city where you live. (Enter your city in the “Private Questions or Comments for Host” box.)

Register for the April 19 conference call with Neil

Please note that the conference service may provide a long-distance number for you to call. If you do not have access to or prefer not to use your long-distance minutes, you can also participate in the call via computer or other online calling software. If you need more information about these services, just let us know.

We hope you’ll join us!

Sneak peek: ticket printers on buses coming this summer

We’re installing new ticket printers on buses to make transfers more consistent for riders and easier for operators. Testing will begin on lines 17 and 70 in mid-March, and the printers will be up and running on all buses later this summer.

We’re improving the way we issue bus transfers, so that they’re more consistent and predictable for riders, and easier for operators.

You may have already seen the new ticket printers mounted near the farebox on some of our buses. (See photo at right.) We’re gradually installing them on the fleet, and testing will begin on lines 17 and 70 in mid-March.

Soon, instead of manually punching and tearing a newsprint receipt, your operator will be able to instantly print out a 2-Hour Ticket or 1-Day Pass simply by pressing a button on the console.

This will take the mystery out of getting a bus transfer, as all single-ride transfers will be valid for exactly 2 hours from the time of purchase, just like MAX and WES tickets.

The easy-to-read tickets will look like other TriMet tickets, with a foil security strip and the expiration time.

The existing transfer system requires 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 varies depending on the day of the week and where you boarded in relation to the end of the route. The new ticket printers will simplify and speed up this process, and make all transfers consistent.

Stay tuned for details about the ticket printers and when you can expect to see them in action. Even better, sign up to get updates by email.

Questions? Feedback? Let us know what you think. Contact us at http://trimet.org/feedback or call 503-238-RIDE (7433).