Category Archives: Transit Geekery

You asked: How will the MAX Orange Line work in Downtown Portland?

The new MAX Orange Line will run 7.3 miles from Oak Grove into Downtown Portland, passing through towns and fields before reaching Tilikum Crossing, the newest span over the Willamette.

 

We’re often asked what happens after Orange Line trains go over Tilikum Crossing and enter Downtown Portland: Do they turn around at PSU? Do they become Yellow or Green line trains? Will I have to transfer to get to the Transit Mall?

The Orange Line will share Green/Yellow line tracks once it reaches the PSU South/SW 6th & College Station in Downtown Portland. What’s more, the Orange and Yellow lines will share vehicles — this is called interlining. Throughout most of the day, Orange Line trains heading north will continue as Yellow Line trains along their normal route.

This means a one-seat ride from Milwaukie and Oak Grove into Downtown Portland and beyond, all the way up to Expo Center.

Similarly, most Yellow Line trains headed south will continue as Orange Line trains down to the end of the line at the SE Park Ave Station. Interlining is more efficient than turning Orange and Yellow trains around Downtown; it requires fewer trains and eliminates transfers for north-south riders.

Most MAX Orange Line trains will continue as Yellow Line trains in Downtown Portland. Most southbound Yellow Line trains will continue as Orange Line trains before reaching Union Station.
So why isn’t this a Yellow Line extension?

Separating the two lines gives us flexibility, allowing us to increase frequency on one line without affecting the other. (For example, projections of high ridership on the Orange Line mean that some of its trains will turn around at Union Station during rush hour to meet that demand.)

Looking down the road, any addition of light rail or high-capacity transit in the future — like the options Metro is studying for the Southwest Corridor — would have an effect on ridership patterns on the system.  It’s possible that the difference between service frequency on the Orange and Yellow lines might become even more pronounced. As it is, we expect relatively few riders to travel between Milwaukie and North Portland; most are likely to head Downtown or transfer to east-west service.

Additionally, we think the Orange Line deserves its own recognition as a pioneering endeavor. Besides showcasing the first bridge of its kind in the U.S., the Orange Line features a host of sustainable elements like eco-roofs, eco-tracks and bioswales to capture stormwater runoff. And it serves a distinct corridor stretching from the region’s urban core to growing communities, setting it apart as our region’s newest light rail line.

Get more MAX Orange Line details at catchtheorange.com »
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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Our oldest MAX trains are getting makeovers

We launched our first MAX trains—what we call the Type 1—nearly 30 years ago in 1986. That same year, “Top Gun” graced the silver screen, Ronald Reagan lived in the White House and big hair was all the rage.

Since then, our Type 1 trains have logged 1.6 million miles in the metro area and over time, they’ve begun to show their age. With time, the trains’ body filler (like industrial-strength putty) has broken down, allowing moisture to get through. Also, the stairwells in these high-floor trains have signs of rust and corrosion.

Massive makeover

A bare Type 1 MAX train
A bare Type 1 MAX train

To extend their operating lifetime (for up to 20 years), we started refurbishing these trains in 2002. To date, 21 trains are fully restored and two are in process. The last three Type 1 trains are expected to be revived by the end of 2016.

From start to finish, it takes three people about six months—or about 3,500 labor hours—to refurbish a Type 1 train. Here are the key steps to refinish this train:

  • Remove equipment on the roof, exterior end and sidewalls.
  • Cover door and window openings.
  • Chip off old body filler and paint and grind the entire exterior to the metal.
  • Apply epoxy primer and three coats of body filler.
  • Use industrial-scale white body paint, then TriMet blue and yellow color coats.
  • Refinish and reattach doors.

“It takes a lot of effort to get all of the body filler down to the metal,” says Mark Grove, who is the Manager of Rail Equipment Maintenance at our Gresham facility. “We have talented light-rail mechanics like Bob Culpepper who help make this project happen.”

Grove also says it’s an “art form” to get the body filler flat and smooth. And unlike the original primer and filler, modern filler flexes with the metal of the train’s movement, which makes it last longer.

New signs, windows, HVAC

Mark Grove with a refurbished Type 1 MAX train.
Mark Grove with a refurbished Type 1 MAX train.

Type 1 trains are the only ones in the MAX fleet where its destination signs are hand-cranked by the operator. As part of the rehab, all Type 1 trains will feature new digital signage.

We’re also upgrading the HVAC systems, along with the old vented windows, and replacing them with single-piece fixed windows. This will increase energy efficiency and give you a quieter ride and more open space.

Finally, we’re replacing the old propulsion/braking resistors that are mounted on the roof. The old ones are at the end of their useful life.

“The new resistors have a 20% higher capacity, so they’re stressed less, will be more reliable and last longer,” Grove says.

Why not buy new?

Renovating a Type 1 train is far less costly than buying new. A new light-rail train costs up to $4 million. A Type 1 train rehab runs about $200,000. Cha-ching!

Next in line

Once all the Type 1 renovations are done, we’ll start makeovers on the Type 2 trains.

In the meantime, check out our brand new MAX trains! We’ll be welcoming 18 new-and-improved MAX vehicles to our fleet this year.

Andrew Longeteig

Andrew Longeteig

I’m TriMet’s Communications Coordinator. I share what’s happening at the agency with the media and general public. When I’m not working, I’ll either be watching the Blazers or at a rock concert.

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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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