Category Archives: Rider News

Ten bus lines that will change when the MAX Orange Line opens

A lot will change when the MAX Orange Line opens in September. Light rail reaching north Clackamas County means new ways of getting to work, family, friends and opportunity — even if you’re not taking a train.

Pedestrians and cyclists are eager to upgrade their commute and take Tilikum Crossing. Streetcar riders will finally be able to loop around the City Center. Even the raindrops will have new places to go, with all the bioswales, stormwater planters and rain gardens along the corridor.

Line 17-Holgate will shift its route to Tilikum Crossing on Sept. 13.
Line 17-Holgate will shift its route to Tilikum Crossing on Sept. 13.

But some of the biggest changes coming with the Orange Line are for bus riders. Some lines will be combined to reduce redundancy and take advantage of the light rail line. Some will get more frequent service, or additional service hours. A couple routes will shift to Tilikum Crossing.

The changes to bus service you’ll see on September 13:

Line 9-Powell and Line 17-Holgate will shift from the Ross Island Bridge to Tilikum Crossing. Line 9 will also see its Frequent Service restored to 15 minutes or better on Sundays. Both routes will connect to the MAX Orange Line at stations between Southeast and Downtown Portland.

Line 19-Woodstock will start service earlier on weekend mornings, with trips beginning around 8 a.m. Buses will connect to the Orange Line at the SE Bybee Blvd Station.

Line 28-Linwood and Line 34-River Rd will combine to become Line 34-Linwood/River Rd. This new route will run twice as frequently as the 28 and 34 do now, and it will connect with the Orange Line at the Milwaukie/Main St Station and at the SE Tacoma St/Johnson Creek Station.

Line 31-King Rd and Line 33-McLoughlin will combine to become Line 33-McLoughlin/King Rd. This new route will head up to Milwaukie (as the 33 does now) then turn east on its way out to Clackamas Town Center. This line will increase frequency and hours of service along King Road, and Frequent Service will be restored on Sundays.

Line 32-Oatfield will connect with the Orange Line at the Milwaukie/Main St Station before reaching Jackson Street, where it will turn around and head back south.

Line 99-Macadam/McLoughlin will add new service to Oregon City in the mornings and to Downtown Portland in the evenings. There will be new stops and service on Tacoma Street, and the route will move to serve Macadam Avenue and cross the new Sellwood Bridge once it opens. It will connect with the Orange Line at SE Park Ave and SE Tacoma St/Johnson Creek stations.

Line 154-Willamette/Clackamas Heights will extend from Oregon City out to Clackamas Heights, which will see more service than Line 34 currently provides.

Four other lines (29, 70, 75 and 152) will connect with the Orange Line on the Eastside, though their routes won’t change.

See the complete list of bus changes associated with the MAX Orange 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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New rules for vaping and service animals

As you know, we have a set of “Rules for Riding” in place to help our riders and employees feel safe and comfortable while on the transit system. Effective today, we’ve revised our rules on two issues that we know are really important to riders—smoking and service animals. Here’s what’s changing:

“No smoking” now includes vaporizers

Smoking (anything!) is already prohibited on all TriMet property for the health and comfort of our riders. But we’re updating our rules to specifically call out vaporizers/vape cigarettes in addition to e-cigarettes. Many of you have called or written us about riders vaping at stops and stations, and this change will allow us to enforce the smoking ban more effectively. So, when you see a “No Smoking” sign, that means no smoking—of any kind.

As to where you can and can’t smoke, there is an exception to the rule: Smoking is allowed outside of bus shelters and MAX stations along public sidewalks, such as in Downtown Portland.

By the way, if you see someone smoking regularly at a stop or station at around the same time of day on the same days of the week, let us know. Enforcement actions include a $250 fine or even an exclusion from the system.

If you smoke, please be courteous to your fellow riders and smoke away from the shelter, and definitely not on buses or trains!

Companion animals must be in a carrier

For the safety of our riders, we’ve revised our definition of a service animal. Effective today, pets that provide emotional support or companionship (“companion” or “comfort” animals) are no longer considered service animals and will have to ride in a closed carrier. Only guide dogs, signal dogs or other animals trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability will be allowed on board outside of a carrier.

So how can operators tell if an animal is really a service animal? Operators can ask, “Is that a service animal?” and “What service is your animal trained to perform?” But that’s about it. By law, if a rider claims their animal is a service animal, we have to take their word for it. We know some people abuse this policy, but there’s really not much we can do about it.

Keep in mind, many riders legitimately need and use service animals to help them get around—and it may not always be obvious that an animal is a service animal.

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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Let’s Dump the Pump on June 18

What would you do with an extra $999 this month? How about an extra $11,985 this year?

Those are the latest numbers from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), a non-profit organization that calculates average savings for a two-person household that takes transit instead of owning a car. According to the June 2015 study, Portlanders save the 10th-most among U.S. cities.

DTP email

If you’re wondering where these figures came from (and how they could possibly be so high), consider that they’re based on Portland’s average gas price. APTA also assumes that you (and the other person in your household) are driving 15,000 miles per year, and that your car gets just over 23 miles per gallon. These numbers obviously vary for every driver, but they work as reasonable estimates.

Once costs such as parking, maintenance, registration, insurance and other basic charges are factored in, it’s easier to see how simply paying $100 each month for a transit pass could lead to big savings.

That’s just what leaving your car behind does for you. But everyone in our community stands to benefit from your decision to hop on transit (or your bike, or your own two feet). One fewer car in transit means less traffic and shorter commute times. It also keeps pollution out of the air—for each mile taken on TriMet, 59% less carbon is emitted compared to driving alone. And, according to APTA, every $1 invested in public transportation, $4 is returned to our economy. Not bad!

2015_DTP_PrintReadyArtwork_Button

So let’s celebrate the difference we can make. June 18 is National Dump the Pump Day—our chance to show ourselves, our neighbors, family and friends that taking transit is the smart thing to do. Plan to commute by bus with a coworker who’s new to TriMet. Go on a picnic in Washington Park and take the train. Calculate your gas savings and share your results on Facebook using #DumpThePump.

Now back to the twelve-thousand-dollar question. With all that extra cash, here are some things you might consider:

  • Season tickets to the Blazers
  • Reservations to a new restaurant each month
  • The latest Apple gadget
  • Dream big and save up—this could take a dent out of a future housing payment or college tuition!

You probably don’t need to be told what to do with $11,985. But you can make a commitment to dump the pump and spread the word, and start on the path toward saving.

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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Heads up! Trains are testing along the Orange Line

Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People, and the new MAX Orange Line don’t open until September 12, but we’ve got light rail trains and buses already out testing the new routes. That means you’ll see trains and buses in areas they may not have traveled through before.

Our operators are always scanning their routes for pedestrians and cyclists, but an extra set of eyes always helps! Please be on the lookout for buses and trains in both directions, especially along the MAX Orange Line and near Tilikum Crossing. If we all stay alert, everyone will stay safe.

Be safe around trains

Stay off the tracks. At 30 miles per hour, it takes MAX trains two blocks to come to a complete stop, and they can’t swerve around you!

7563423082_fd9f1a52ec_zBike across tracks straight on. Crossing tracks at an angle or turning across tracks is risky. Your wheel could slip into the track bed and cause you to crash! When in doubt, please walk your bike across the tracks.

Please wait if you see a train coming. Flashing lights or a lowering gate means a train is approaching the station. It is illegal to bike, walk, skate or drive around lowered gates.

Cross legally. The only legal and safe place to cross train tracks is at designated crosswalks.

Stay alert around tracks. Headphones, music and texting can be distracting and keep you from noticing an approaching train.

Do not trespass on tracks. It’s illegal and can result in a fine or jail time.

Be safe around buses

Please stop, look and listen for buses before crossing the street.

Bike signals closeupWhile biking, please pass on the left if you see riders are boarding or deboarding.

Make sure the operator can see you. If you can’t see the operator—either in the mirror or directly—he or she can’t see you.

Don’t cross in front of a stopped bus. Traffic going around the vehicle may not see you!

If driving around a bus, please give the operators extra space as you change lanes. Buses cannot stop as quickly as cars.

We want you to stay safe while you’re out and about, so please stay alert while walking or biking around buses and trains—and share these tips with your family, friends and neighbors. Let’s all work together to keep everyone safe!

Find out more about the MAX Orange Line, check out the calendar of opening events and sign up to get updates by email.

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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More Frequent Service arrives in time for summer

How might more Frequent Service on MAX help you this summer?

If you work on the weekends, you’ve got an easy answer. And if you’re looking forward to some free time, think of the festivals, markets, parks, picnics, playdates and out-of-town visitors. (That’s just the start—we can get pretty creative on those long summer days!)

frequent-service

Next week, we’re adding 135 trips to MAX on the weekends—upping our yearly investment by $1.1 million.

mississippi (1 of 1)

Last year, after it had thinned in the wake of the Great Recession, we began restoring Frequent Service in steps, beginning with mid-day buses. Then came weekday evening service and, most recently, Saturday service on MAX.

Our service hours are finally back to pre-Recession levels (hooray!), but we’re not stopping there. Bolstering our system with more and better service remains a priority. This fall will see the historic opening of the MAX Orange Line (and an attendant increase in bus service), as well as more Sunday Frequent Service on bus lines.

Check out MAX schedule changes effective June 7 »

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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More service brings more riders: adding up TriMet’s ridership stats

Riders often tell us what they want their transit service to look like: more frequent buses, more trains, better connections and early morning and late-night trips. More and better service, clearly, are big motivators to getting you on board.

Since fall 2013, we’ve been making big strides toward getting service hours back to the high levels that predate the Great Recession—and now we’re almost there.

When we looked at our winter quarter ridership numbers (December–February) compared to the same period the previous year, we got some insight into just how these service improvements affect riders’ habits. So we were pretty happy to see a 2.8% increase in overall ridership this last quarter over the year before. It’s a small percentage that tells a big story, considering three very different factors that go into it:

Rides on buses were up 4% overall, and up 5.4% on our Frequent Service lines.

Bus Weekly Boarding Rides

Bus ridership has been growing pretty consistently over the last year since we started adding back service that was cut during the recession. In September 2013, we began making improvements to return Frequent Service to every 15 minutes or better.  (Our 12 Frequent Service bus lines are our most popular lines, providing more than half of all bus trips.) We’re making good progress toward delivering the improved bus service that riders want and deserve. 

MAX Light Rail ridership was up slightly, increasing 1% over the previous year.

MAX Weekly Boarding Rides

WES Commuter Rail ridership was down 10.7% (about 170 rides a day).

WES Weekly Boarding Rides

Why the drop? We’re not sure, exactly, but our manager of service performance and analysis suggested low gas prices as a likely factor. As gas prices fall, some riders may be going back to their cars for some trips.

Are you a WES rider or Highway 217 commuter? We’d like to hear what you think: Let us know at trimet.org/feedback.

More service, more riders

The demand for transit is strong in the Portland area, and we’re excited to be in a position to grow our system again. As we add more service on the street, more people are noticing (and taking advantage of it!).

Where do we go from here? We’re looking ahead and planning future improvements, particularly for bus service. We’ve been asking riders in different parts of town what improvements they’d like to see as resources become available. Learn more and share your vision for the future of transit in your community »

Want to dig in to the data? Check out our complete performance dashboard and sign up to get updates by email »

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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March 18 is Transit Driver Appreciation Day!

Have you thanked your bus driver or given your MAX operator a friendly wave lately?TDAD logo

Just last year, more than 250,000 transit operators in the U.S. gave us over 10.5 billion rides. And while many of us greet our drivers with a “Hello” and exit with a “Thank you,” we think they deserve some official recognition, too. That’s why on March 18 riders across the country celebrate Transit Driver Appreciation Day!

This day of thanks began when riders in Seattle thought to recognize their friendly operators on a significant date: March 18, when the world’s first urban bus system made its debut in Paris in 1662. In the centuries since, public transit operators have kept the world moving. They’ve helped us through everything from day-to-day traffic to serious economic recessions—needless to say, the job isn’t always easy.

So let’s show our appreciation by saying “Thanks,” signing a card and submitting commendations. Like the official Facebook page and tag your shares with #tdad.

Look at what your fellow TriMet riders are saying about their operators, and add your story!

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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We’re rolling out service improvements again!

Spring service changes are just around the corner!—Starting March 1, we’re improving bus service on 18 lines with a focus on matching schedules to traffic conditions, relieving crowding and reducing wait and transfer times.

  • frequent-serviceImproved Frequent Service: All our Frequent Service bus lines will have 15-minute (or better) service most of the day on Saturday.
  • Better schedule reliability: We’re adjusting the schedules of nine lines to match service with daily traffic conditions.
  • Efficient transfers at Tigard TC: We moved around bus stops for lines 12, 45, 64 and 76/78 at the Tigard Transit Center to better coordinate bus arrivals and departures, meaning a smoother and safer ride for you!

We know you want more and better service. That’s why, over the next few years, we’re working to grow our network of buses and trains—while improving your overall experience on board.

Check the new schedules before heading out. (And don’t forget!—Transfer times increase to 2½ hours on March 1, too!)

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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Starting March 1, tickets will be valid for 2½ hours

2.5 hour ticketIf you normally buy tickets to get around on TriMet, we have some good news! Effective Sunday, March 1, we’re increasing transfer times to 2½ hours. With more time on your ticket, you’ll be able to go more places and get more done.

This change will benefit everyone, but especially our riders who depend solely on transit to get around.

A few years ago a community advocacy group proposed increasing transfer times,  but we couldn’t pursue the change at that time as we were facing budget shortfalls caused by the recession.

The new 2½-Hour Ticket debuts the same day we introduce improved bus service on 18 lines, including some of our Frequent Service lines.

Learn more about how we’re making transit better.

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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10 reasons why 2014 was a good year for TriMet riders

Riders, it’s been a heck of a year.

We had our fair share of challenges—from freezing rain in February to a rare MAX derailment to an early “Snowvember” storm. Plus, MAX reliability really took a hit this year, which is why we’re scheduling some much-needed upgrades to tracks, signals and switches to get us, well, back on track.

Despite the rough patches, 2014 actually brought a bus load of good news for riders. (And no, we’re not talking about the now twice-a-year Streetcar Mobile Music Fest or even the much-anticipated return of Poetry in Motion.) Here are 10 highlights:

old_new11. 90 (more) new buses joined the fleet.

This year, we sent 90 of our oldest buses to the scrapper and replaced them with new, state-of-the-art buses made in the USA by Gillig. They’ve got a ton of new features, but you’re most likely to notice the easy-to-clean vinyl seats, low floors for easy boarding, brighter exterior signs and smoother ride. And, in time for next summer’s heat wave, all of our 650 buses will have air conditioning. (Finally!) By 2017, the average age of our fleet will be eight years—the industry standard. And if you’ve ever wondered what happens to a bus after it’s “retired,” you really should watch this oddly satisfying video of a bus getting scrapped at the recycler.

busblade-frequent2. Frequent Service is back.

Remember when “Frequent Service” meant every 15 minutes or better throughout the day, every day? Unfortunately, after the economy tanked in 2008, we had to cut back the frequency on buses and MAX due to budget shortfalls. Now, we’re gradually adding back service: In March, we increased weekday mid-day service to every 15 minutes on Frequent Service bus lines. In August, we bumped up weekday evening service on both buses and MAX. And in November, we added buses on various lines to improve connections and relieve crowding—especially at rush hour. More to come… Stay tuned!

3. There’s a new bridge in town.

It’s hard to miss the striking silhouette of the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People, rising up over the Willamette just south of Downtown Portland. When the new MAX Orange Line opens next September, the bridge will carry trains, buses, bicyclists and pedestrians to and from destinations in the South Waterfront district, Southeast Portland and Milwaukie. Fun fact: At more than 1,700 feet across, it will be the longest car-free bridge in the U.S. This fall, we tested its aesthetic lighting system—a fantastic public art installation created by artists Anna Valentina Murch and Doug Hollis that changes colors based on the river’s speed, height and water temperature. Want more bridge? There’s not much to see now that civil construction is complete, but you can still geek out on our live video feed from our BridgeCams.

tvm4. Ticket machines work better now. A lot better.

For a while there, it was pretty bad. You know, that sinking feeling when you discover that the ticket machine is out of order… again. We felt your pain and made some big changes to the way we service, track and manage the machines we all love to hate. Last year, we replaced our oldest machines, updated software and overhauled our maintenance procedures. Today, our ticket machines are up and running around 98% of the time. Now, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever see an out-of-service machine—It’s going to happen from time to time. But it’s safe to say the days of “those $#%& ticket machines” are in the past.

5. We have a fair and sustainable labor contract.

If there’s one thing we’re thankful for this year (besides our riders, of course!), it’s a sustainable labor contract. Why is this good news for riders? Our new agreement with Amalgamated Transit Union 757—the union representing the majority of TriMet employees—puts us on a sustainable financial path while providing a fair and competitive benefits package for our team. It’s a huge step forward for TriMet, for our employees and for riders, because it means we can come together and focus on our common goal of making our existing service better and expanding our system to meet the growing demand for transit.

youth-pass-ticket6. Youth fares went down.

In September, we lowered the Youth fare (the reduced fare for ages 7-17 and students in grades 9-12 or pursuing a GED). The Youth 2-Hour Ticket price dropped from $1.65 to $1.25, and the Youth 1-Month Pass fell from $30 to $28. We’re hoping this will make transit more accessible and affordable for our younger riders, and make it easier for families to get their kids to school, jobs and other activities.

7. Tickets will soon be valid for 2 1/2 hours.

Ever wished you had a little more time on your ticket? As of March 2015, we’re extending the transfer time on 2-Hour Tickets to 2 1/2 hours. OK, so “2 1/2-Hour Ticket” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but that’s beside the point: You’ll have 30 more minutes to complete a trip or make transfers between buses and trains. A community advocacy group first brought up the idea of extending the transfer time a few years ago. We knew riders also wanted more frequent service, so we felt it wasn’t something our budget could accommodate, until now. But like many of you, we know that a little extra time can go a long way!

8. Crime went down 20% systemwide.

In April, we got word that reported crime on TriMet had dropped 25% on average in the previous year. On buses, there was one reported crime in every 255,000 trips. On MAX, one in every 91,378 trips. (Most of these incidents involve property crimes such as theft.) We believe this is due in part to community policing efforts and a neighborhood approach to crime prevention, along with increased Transit Police presence and more than 4,400 security cameras systemwide. It’s also worth mentioning that crime on TriMet pretty much mirrors the surrounding communities: A few high-profile incidents might make the evening news, but riding transit is as safe as walking down a busy sidewalk or going to the mall.

metro-brt-art9. BRT is coming to Powell and Division.

Another standout in the “good news” category: This summer, the Powell-Division Transit and Development Project selected bus rapid transit (or BRT for short) as the best way to improve transit on Powell Boulevard and Division Street. Those are two of the Portland area’s busiest and most congested streets, and thousands of people depend on the 4-Division and 9-Powell buses to get to work each day. BRT will make commuting between Gresham and Downtown Portland faster, easier and safer, with upgraded stations, limited stops and possibly even dedicated lanes. New service could begin around 2020. Learn more about BRT on Powell and Division

10710312_10154858702060473_4404152704493123144_o10. Get ready to “tap on.”

It’s official: You’ll be able to use a fare card, smartphone or credit/debit card to pay your fare in the not-so-distant future. This year, we broke “digital ground” on an electronic fare system that will make it easier and more convenient to get around on TriMet. It’s easy: Just tap your card or phone on the reader as you board the bus or train. You’ll be able to load value onto your account by phone, on the web or at grocery/convenience stores. Plus, there will be daily and monthly pricing caps, which means free rides and savings if you ride frequently. Best of all, there’s no need to carry cash, find exact change or keep track of paper tickets. (Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to pay with cash if you want.) We expect to begin testing the new cards with riders in 2016. Sign up here to get the latest e-fare updates by email

 

It goes without saying the last few years have been a bumpy ride for Portland-area transit riders… Thankfully, with the improving economy—and now a sustainable labor contract—we’re in a position to start growing service again.

In 2015, we’re going to continue focusing on bringing you safe, reliable and convenient transit service. (And more of it!) On behalf of the more than 2,600 employees in our TriMet family, here’s to a safe and happy 2015 to you and yours. See you on board!

Dave Whipple

I'm TriMet’s manager of marketing and rider communications. I oversee the agency's web and mobile initiatives and help build useful and usable online tools for riders. I also moonlight as a musician in my spare time.

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