Tag Archives: buses

Buses to the Rescue

If you need buses, and you need buses fast, Alex Ubiadas is who you call.

Whether you need to quickly evacuate a large number of people, like during 2017’s Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia Gorge, or you need a space to warm up first responders during a winter emergency, TriMet’s Emergency Manager is the person who can make it happen.

“We’re the only people in the area who can move lots of people in a short period of time,” says Alex, “This is not our primary mission, but as a taxpayer-funded public agency, we believe this an important role for us to play in our community.”

When something bad happens, people across the region know to contact Alex directly. If it’s a valid public emergency, and there are extra buses and operators available, he’ll coordinate with TriMet’s Operations Command Center to make sure the buses get where they need to go.

A common misconception is that the buses and operators being used for emergencies are being pulled off their regular runs, with TriMet’s service suffering as a result. “We always have extra buses and operators standing by in case of any issues, like if we need to replace MAX with shuttle buses, or a bus breaks down, or an operator calls in sick,” explains Alex. “As a last resort, we’ll pull some buses off Frequent Service lines to replace MAX during lengthy disruptions. But we only use our spare buses and drivers for responding to emergencies.”

Water and other supplies for Eagle Creek Fire evacuees

2017’s Eagle Creek Fire was one of the largest — and farthest flung — emergency operations Alex has helped coordinate. As the fire raced through the Gorge, thousands of residents needed to be evacuated. Even though the evacuation zones extended far beyond TriMet’s service area, several buses were sent to help shuttle people to shelters and to bring water and other supplies to the evacuees. “Because the fire moved so quickly, we only had a couple hours heads-up on that request. With the amount of people we transported and the distance from Portland, it was our largest emergency operation in recent memory.”

TriMet has also recently provided buses that helped evacuate people during the 2018 junkyard fire off NE Killingsworth Street. And in 2016, TriMet buses took children from their school near the NW 23rd Avenue gas explosion to a safe location where their parents could pick them up.

Beyond evacuations, TriMet will provide buses to help police departments with transportation when a large number of people have been arrested, such as during a riot. Alex will also help arrange for warming or cooling buses. “If there is a fire during the winter months, we’ll often provide a bus for firefighters to rest and warm themselves. Likewise, in extreme heat, we can provide buses to help cool first responders or other people. A few years ago there was a large outdoor festival that had a lot of people from vulnerable populations attending. The county director of emergency management asked if we could provide a bus to help cool people who were showing signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.”

One thing Alex has yet to provide buses for — but is prepared for — is an earthquake. “We have plans to provide assistance for major emergencies, such as an earthquake. The Portland Transportation Recovery Plan provides for TriMet to use buses to potentially move people but also supplies to distribution points within the city,” says Alex.

“I love that we’re able to do this,” continues Alex. “It’s just the right thing to do.”

As part of National Preparedness Month, Alex encourages everybody to visit ready.gov to learn how they can prepare for a disaster.

Header photo courtesy KPAM News Talk 860 & Afternoon Northwest

 

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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Coming Soon to TriMet: Electric Buses

It’s no secret that public transit is good for the environment.

Consider:

Every day TriMet eliminates more than 200,000 car trips, and a TriMet rider’s per mile carbon footprint is 60 percent less than a car driver’s.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t do more. This Earth Day, we want to share our plans for a project that could be a major step towards making Portland an even more environmentally friendly place.

Soon, five battery-electric buses will run along Line 62 in Beaverton. These buses, which were paid for by a federal grant and funds from Portland General Electric, make up a real-world test of battery-electric bus technology that will helps us determine if we can roll out these zero emission, whisper-quiet buses across the TriMet system.

Want to know more about these buses, including the seriously cool technology powering them, our plans for the pilot program and when and where you can meet them in-person?

Visit our Electric Buses page.

 

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.

More Posts