Category Archives: Service Updates

The Plan for This Fall’s Hillsboro MAX Improvements

Our next MAX improvement project kicks off today in Hillsboro, where we’re replacing worn-out rails and tackling other important projects that will give you a smoother ride and fewer delays.

The entire project will take seven weeks to complete. Thanks to careful planning and a lot of prep work over the past year, we’ll only need to disrupt MAX service between Hatfield Government Center Station and Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport for two weeks in October.

During this time — from Saturday, October 13, through Saturday, October 27 — MAX Blue Line will be replaced by shuttle buses between those stations. We’re closing MAX Blue Line all the way to Fair Complex because that’s the next place on the line where trains can switch between the two tracks, which is an important safety requirement.

This project will focus on a nearly two block long stretch of the MAX Blue Line starting at SW Adams Avenue and E Main Street and heading east on SW Washington Street to S 1st Avenue. The rails in this stretch have undergone a lot of wear and stress since the Blue Line opened in 1998 and are at the end of their lifespan.

Despite being made of hard steel, trains wear rails down over time. This wear is more pronounced on tight bends, like the one between Washington and Adams. Ever hear trains squealing as they round a bend? That’s the sound of a train scraping against the rails, wearing them down.

If you were to look at a cross section of a rail, you’d see it’s “Ι” shaped. Over time the weight of trains wears down the top of the rails and bends them out of shape. Running trains over worn rails results in a rough, bouncy ride. If not corrected, running trains over worn rails can lead to an even-faster rate of wear and — eventually — a broken rail.  

We can grind the rails back into shape, but after enough wear, there isn’t anything left to grind and the rails need to be replaced. That’s where we’re at now. Twenty to twenty-five years might not seem like a long lifetime, but it’s typical for how much we use our rails.

The rails on this section of the Blue Line run down the middle of a street and are embedded in concrete. This means we have to rip up the entire track bed to get them out. While this is a lot of work, it also gives us the opportunity to do some other important work that will help improve the reliability of the entire Blue Line.

Switch and rails near Hatfield Station

We’re going to replace five switches — the machines that control which track trains can run on. These five switches are also nearing the end of the lifespans. Switches are sensitive to snow and cold weather, so four of them currently have heating elements to help keep them warm when temperatures drop. When we swap out these switches, we’ll install newer versions for all that have more-reliable heating technology. This will help us avoid issues no matter what the weather.

We’ll also be doing some important electrical work. The wires that power the signals can wear out, so we’ll be testing those and replacing them where necessary. In addition, one of the cables that provides electricity to the overhead wires that powers MAX needs to be replaced. This should help reduce the possibility of delays on MAX Blue Line.

We’re going to give the four closed MAX stations — Hatfield Government Center, HIllsboro Central, Tuality Hospital/SE 8th Ave and Washington/SE 12th Ave — a thorough cleaning and we’ll perform any necessary maintenance. After more than 20 years of heavy use, they could use a little TLC.

We’re also going to replace the tactile pavers — those bumps on the ground that warn you that you’re at the edge of the boarding platform. The current pavers are secured with grout, which has not held up well in our wet environment. They’ll be replaced by more reliable modular system that will last longer and require far less maintenance.

Finally, we’ll be laying some groundwork for future projects that will help us avoid another disruption.

Crossover approaching Hatfield Station

When we put the rails back in, we’re going to anchor them to the concrete in a way that’s more durable and faster to install, in order to minimize the time MAX Blue Line is disrupted.

At times, this work will be loud. This will especially be true the first three days of the project when we’re ripping out the old rails. Later, there will be noise from generators when we’re welding the new rails together.

There will be some road and sidewalk closures during this project. For the duration of the project, Washington will be closed for eastbound car traffic from Adams to 1st. During the two week disruption — October 13 to October 27 — both directions of Washington will be closed to cars from Adams to 1st.  Additionally, the sidewalk on the north side of Washington will be closed the entire project.

We’ll be working long hours to wrap up this work quickly so we can get trains running again. During the disruption, we’ll be on-site from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. But the end result — a safe, reliable and comfortable ride for the next 20+ years — will be worth it.

Get the details on the shuttle bus service that will replace MAX Blue Line between Hatfield Government Center and Fair Complex.

Dave Sauter

Dave Sauter

I’m a Project Manager for TriMet’s Capital Projects & Construction Division, working on track improvements on the MAX system along with other projects. I regularly ride public transportation — the Line 96 bus and the MAX Blue and Orange lines — so I personally know the value of transit that’s reliable and enjoyable. I was born and raised in Portland. My wife and I and our five kids frequently visit my parents who still live in the house where I grew up.”

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Avoid Interstate Construction Traffic This Summer

Hearing the phrase “a good time to plan a vacation” about upcoming roadwork does not exactly inspire confidence in a smooth commute. But that is what’s being said about this summer’s I-84 and I-5 construction.

The projects, which run from July 8th through August 27th (with a brief early August break), will close three of the ramps that connect I-5 to I-84. Major traffic delays are expected for the length of the projects.

For many, MAX is going to be the best option for your commute. It may be crowded, but you won’t get bogged down in traffic. MAX Yellow Line is an alternative for I-5 in North Portland and the Blue, Green and Red lines can help you avoid I-84 (and parts of I-205).

Want to find the fastest way to work on TriMet? Plan your trip.

If don’t live near a MAX station, we have dozens of Park & Ride locations that provide free and easy parking near MAX stations.

Yellow Line riders have access to over 600 free parking spaces between the Expo Center and Delta Park/Vanport Park & Rides. Additionally, the Expo Center is allowing use of any other open spaces in its lot between July 8-20, July 25-August 6 and August 17-27, but a fee will apply for those.  

Red Line riders looking to avoid I-205 and I-84 have access to nearly 200 spaces at the Parkrose/Sumner Transit Center Park & Ride.

Blue Line riders have access to over 2,000 spaces at five Park & Rides between Cleveland Ave and Gateway Transit Center.

Similarly, Green Line riders have access to over 2,300 spaces at five Park & Rides between Clackamas Town Center and Gateway

Red, Blue and Green Line riders can also use the Gateway Transit Center Park & Ride’s nearly 700 spaces.

Many Park & Rides fill by 7-7:30 a.m. on a normal weekday, so we recommend arriving early.

See our full list of Park & Ride locations.

Buses will also provide a way through traffic during the roadwork. While they still may experience some delays, we’ve taken action to help keep them moving.

We’re anticipating significant delays approaching the Burnside Bridge during the ramp closure beginning July 25, so we’ve worked with the City of Portland to turn NE Davis between SE Sandy and SE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd into bus and local access only on July 26-27, July 30-31, August 1-3, and August 20-24 from 6-11 a.m.. This should help keep Line 12, 19 and 20 buses moving.

Also during the ramp closures that start on July 25th, we’ve worked to restrict parking for additional hours on SE Morrison between SE 12th and SE 6th Ave and SE Madison between SE 10th and SE 6th. This will allow our buses to use the BUS ONLY lanes for longer as they approach the Morrison and Hawthorne bridges.

We will also have additional buses waiting at transit centers that can be pulled into service in case buses start to fill and go into “Drop Off Only” during the ramp closures.

Throughout the summer, C-TRAN’s express service between Vancouver and Downtown Portland is a viable alternative to MAX Yellow Line. C-TRAN is anticipating delays due to the expect congestion. Visit for more.

No matter how you plan on commuting this summer, transit will likely be a better option than driving for many who will be impacted by the I-5 / I-84 construction work. Here are helpful links for your commute:

Want to find the fastest way to work on TriMet? Plan your trip.

Worried about potential delays? Check out service alerts for your line.

New to TriMet? Here’s all you need to know to pay your fare and ride.


Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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Rolling Out Soon: Our Largest-Ever Bus Service Expansion

Our largest-ever expansion of bus service is officially a “go” with the approval of our Fiscal Year 2019 budget last week.

Thirteen lines will soon have more frequent buses or will run for more hours. We’ll also be bringing back 24-hour service to two lines, the first time we’ve offered all-night service since 1986! Most of these improvements will roll out this September with the remainder coming in March 2019.

Here’s the increased bus service you’ll soon see:

  • Lines 61, 64, 66 and 68 — all of which serve OHSU and Marquam Hill — will have expanded hours of operation.
  • Line 81-Kane Rd/257th will have more than 20 additional weekday buses.
  • Line 24-Fremont will be extended across the Fremont Bridge.
  • A new all-night bus — Line 272 — will go to Portland International Airport.
  • Line 4-Division/Fessenden — one of our longest and most popular routes — will be split into two lines to help keep buses on time.
  • Line 20-Burnside/Stark and Line 57-TV Hwy/Forest Grove will run 24 hours a day.
  • Line 73-122nd Ave will have increased weekday service with buses arriving every 15 minutes most of the day.
  • Line 96-Tualatin/I-5 will have more service with 25 new mid-day buses between Tualatin and Portland.

We’re also moving forward with important safety and security upgrades, a low-income fare, buying new buses (including five new battery-electric buses) and continued work on the Division Transit and Southwest Corridor projects.

Read more about what our Fiscal Year 2019 budget includes.

Tom Williams

Tom Williams

I'm TriMet's Web & Social Media Coordinator. I'm here to share our story, and to keep you up-to-date on how TriMet can help you navigate Portland. When I'm not working, I love to read, spend time outdoors, and visit tiki bars.

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The Plan for Providence Park

We’re about to kick off another MAX improvement project, but this one will be a bit different than last year’s lengthy Morrison–Yamhill MAX work. While the end result will be similar — a smoother ride and system upgrades to help keep trains running on time — the Providence Park work will be shorter and will have less impact on MAX service.

This project will only disrupt MAX Blue and Red lines from Sunday, May 6, through Friday, May 11. Still, with fewer trains running on the west side and on the Blue Line, riders should plan ahead: leave extra time for your commute, avoid rush hour commuting (if you can) and use TriMet bus service or other transportation. We’ve shared all you need to know about getting through the closure, including where to catch shuttle buses, on our Providence Park MAX Improvements page.

The work will be done on SW 18th Avenue, right in front of the Providence Park stadium. This work is unrelated to the stadium expansion construction. Previous MAX improvement projects focused on removing the wooden ties used in MAX construction during the early 1980s and replacing them with longer-lasting materials. There are no wooden ties underneath the 18th Avenue tracks, but there is a need for improvement.

This section of track on SW 18th Ave will be replaced.

Ever notice how MAX sways side-to-side in the Providence Park area? That’s because when the rails were installed in the early 1990s, they were attached to concrete blocks under the roadway with spring-clips, insulated plates and bolts, with asphalt filled in between the rails. Over time this asphalt has broken down, and the result is that side-to-side movement. It’s not just a rider comfort issue – the swaying movement can cause mechanical issues with our trains.

For this project we’ll be removing the existing rails and replacing them with new rails fitted into pre-formed rubber jackets. Then concrete and a special type of grout, which are more durable than asphalt, will be filled in between the rails. This all will hold the rails in place better.

The old and degraded asphalt around the rail will be replaced with concrete and grout.

Crews will also replace outdated switch machines and improve the drainage underneath them. Right now debris gets clogged in the switches, which requires workers to clear out. We can prevent that from happening by redesigning the storm water collectors and increasing the size of the drainage pipes underneath leading leading to the storm/sewer system.

We know service disruptions can be frustrating, so we thank you for your patience while we make MAX better and more reliable!

Learn more about the service adjustments and how to navigate around the disruption.

Dave Sauter

Dave Sauter

I’m a Project Manager for TriMet’s Capital Projects & Construction Division, working on track improvements on the MAX system along with other projects. I regularly ride public transportation — the Line 96 bus and the MAX Blue and Orange lines — so I personally know the value of transit that’s reliable and enjoyable. I was born and raised in Portland. My wife and I and our five kids frequently visit my parents who still live in the house where I grew up.”

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Our New 3700-Series Buses Are Rolling out Now

Something about that new car smell gives you a sense of opportunity. And right now, many of our riders are getting that same feeling as we put dozens of new buses out on the streets. These are the Gillig 3700 series, and by the end of January, we will have 57 of these American-made machines in service.

Aside from the smoother, quieter ride that comes with advancements in technology (and that new car smell), you may not notice many differences between the 3700s and the 3600s. But if you’re a regular rider, you will eventually experience a big change: fewer rides in older buses, many of which have out-served their expected lifespan.

Do you know the average service life of a bus?

It’s 12 years, according to the Federal Transportation Administration. During that period, a TriMet bus will typically have:

  • At least one new engine installed
  • One transmission replacement, maybe more
  • Between  750,000 and 1 million miles!

The 3700s, along with the addition of 64 more new buses next year, will help bring the average age of our fleet to seven or eight years. We’ve already started retiring and decommissioning some of our oldest workhorses, many of which provided service for 15 or more years.

While new may be nice, the 3700s represent a lot more. They are a sign of the times, and of our commitment to more and better service. In the next few years, you’re going to see a lot more from us. We’re expanding and increasing frequency on our most popular routes, improving reliability in areas plagued by congestion and providing new service to meet our community’s growing and changing needs.

We’re also working to meet the needs of operators, who spend hours and over time, days, weeks, even months behind the bus’ 18-inch steering wheel. We worked with Gillig and other partners to make the operator area safer, easier to use, more ergonomic and more comfortable. There’s a new generation driver’s seat with a gel-foam pad, built-in bellows for lumbar support and air bellows for seat height adjustment.

Today’s buses still run on biodiesel, but the technology has changed. Our newest Gilligs use clean air diesel engines with built-in systems that remove many pollutants before they reach the air. (We’re taking our commitment to clean air even further next year, when we begin testing electric buses on Line 62.)

We are working to make transit better. Hop on board one of the 3700s and enjoy the ride!

Tia York

Tia York

I’m a Public Information Officer for TriMet. I’m here to help you understand our system, its people and how we all work together to make this place the best it can be. There was a time when I only took transit during emergencies, but the Orange Line changed everything. I hopped aboard one of the first trains to Milwaukie and never looked back. Transit transforms, empowers and unites.

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Thanks to New Funds, Transit Is About to Get a Lot Better

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.

Addressing congestion

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

What’s next

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.

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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You Can Now Use Hop With Just Your Phone

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.

Try it: Set up a mobile wallet and pay with your phone

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.

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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What’s New at Gresham City Hall MAX Station?

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.

Read more about improving the Blue 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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Hop Fastpass Has Arrived

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!

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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Thanks for Your Patience During the Morrison–Yamhill MAX Improvements

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.

SW 11th Avenue in the early 1980s

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.

SW 11th Ave. during the Morrison–Yamhill MAX Improvements

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.

Pouring rubberized grout around the new rail on SW 1st Ave

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.

Riders transferring to MAX shuttle buses on SW Yamhill St.

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!

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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