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TriMet GM Fred Hansen resigns

Posted by on March 18th, 2010 at 8:30 am

Eye to Eye campaign launch-9
Fred Hansen.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Oregonian reported last night that TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen has decided to resign from the agency. Hansen has been TriMet’s GM since 1998.

In light of Hansen riding the MAX into the sunset, I checked the BikePortland archives and found that his name popped up several times.

The first time was back in 2007, when he signed his name onto a set of rules that were handed out to Zoobombers during one of their weekly rides. Among them: “No part of a bicycle may block the stairwells or aisles” and “Bicycles must be reasonably clean.”

Rose Quarter opening celebration-5

The next time Hansen figured prominently on these pages was March 2007, when Portlander Sharon Fekety informed me of a horrible crash she had while crossing a set of MAX tracks. Ms. Fekety, an experienced rider, fell and broke her arm on what she alleged were greasy tracks.

Hansen admitted they use lubricant on tracks, but he denied that it was placed at the location where Fekety fell. Either way, the incident led Hansen to officially amend TriMet bike safety policy so that it encouraged people on bicycles to walk their bikes across some intersections.

Rose Quarter opening celebration-1

On a much more somber note, also during Hansen’s tenure was the collision that claimed the life of 15-year old Beaverton high school student Austin Miller. Miller was riding home from school when he collided with a TriMet bus whose operator was pulling into a stop.

A TriMet investigation cleared the bus operator of any wrongdoing and Miller’s family sued TriMet for $2 million. A year later TriMet settled the case for $200,000, an amount that Stephanie Miller (Austin’s mom) said, “proves that Austin’s death was the result of a bus driver’s carelessness.”

In the wake of the Austin Miller tragedy, Hansen announced a slew of bus/bike safety initiatives. He actively sought out the partnership of the BTA and the fruits of that collaboration led to the green bikeways and other bike safety improvements to the Rose Quarter Transit Center.

Read more about Hansen and his departure in The Oregonian.

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Comments
  • Todd Boulanger March 18, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Hmmm…it has been a great ride.

    Perhaps BikePortland should do a 10+ years of bike evolution at Trimet…god remember having to sit in a ‘class’ and get tested on using a bus rack and taking your bike on the old MAX trains in order to get a bike pass for taking your bike on Trimet?! Where those vintage horrid pre-sportworks racks – made by Yakima?

    The Trimet we have now is in many ways a better mobility tool than when he found it…though fares are much higher and there is the new “fairless square” for bus riders.

    Fred – good luck with your future. I assume we will see you consulting about Portland transit around the world full time now.

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  • Peter Smith March 18, 2010 at 9:41 am

    I only first heard of him just recently — I was searching for transit-related quotes and one of his popped up:

    “If one thinks of public transit investment (only) in terms of how to get people from point A to point B, I think they miss the point.”

    it’s a good quote.

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  • Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 10:27 am

    This is a HUGE loss to the city of Portland!

    Hansen is an increadable advocate and leader in the state and the nation for sustainable transportation.

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  • Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 11:09 am

    good riddance

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  • Marcus Griffith March 18, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    I applauded his efforts to eliminate fareless square; even if he was only able to make it “free-rail” zone.

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  • beth h March 18, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Over at the Big O, there’s quite a lot of grousing about Hansen’s work [to emhpasize rail at the expense of busses]; a lot of folks who depend on busses for transit are very happy to see him go.

    Those who are trying to keep a deisel-powered bus fleet at the forefront of public transit may be short-sighted.

    IMHO, the future of sustainable, affordable public transit is in alternative-powered, zero (or near-zero)-emissions vehicles. Electric-powered rail doesn’t just make sense, it’s probably going to become absolutely necessary at some point simply in order to keep transit afloat.

    True, a transit system utilizing more rail and fewer busses won’t please everyone but it will save money and resources over the long run. That kind of long-term visioning is often tough to pull off in a world where so many seek instant results.

    Kudos to Mr. Hansen for the work he has done. I sincerely hope his successor at TriMet won’t try to turn the clock back to 1950.

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  • matt picio March 18, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I really appreciate the contributions Mr. Hansen made to make it easier to bike on Tri-Met, but speaking as someone who’s been actively using the system on a near-daily basis for almost 10 years, I have to say I’m not impressed with the direction Tri-Met is going, service-wise. Service has been repeatedly cut – Tri-Met says its due to lower ridership, but the lower ridership is due to cutting service. i.e.

    1. Average joe works 8-5, commutes in from outer Clackamas
    2. Tri-Met cuts the 6:30am bus average joe needs to get to work before 8am
    3. average joe can’t get to work on-time, and either quits, moves, or gets a car (or bike), losing Tri-Met 2 daily trips.
    4. Rinse and repeat. Those who can take an earlier/later bus do so. Tri-Met cuts the “fringes” of the schedule again due to low ridership and the cycle repeats

    Tri-Met’s released statistics aren’t detailed enough to determine how severe the problem is, but increased cuts mean decreased revenues as well as expenses – a vicious circle.

    What Tri-Met needs is to increase service and the state needs to double the Tri-Met tax levied on businesses – the average business pays far less on the Tri-Met tax than any other tax or expense, the system can bear that minor burden – it works out to maybe $75 per employee per year.

    That’s politically unpalatable, though, so the cuts are likely to continue. None of that is directly Mr. Hansen’s fault, but it would have been nice if he’d actively fought for a tax increase rather than constantly cutting service.

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  • hanmade March 18, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    In reference to #6 (Beth) I have never understood why, instead of paying huge amounts to lay rail that limits the movement of the vehicle, electric powered buses are not being used instead. Cheaper than light rail and just as green, and the route can be changed without too much cost.

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  • AL M March 19, 2010 at 12:44 am

    Fred was a very nice guy, I’ve met him and he is extremely likable.

    However, Fred was truly part of the ‘elite’.

    All he did was travel around and play politics. He had nothing to do with the actual operation; he left that to other people. Of course they all reported to Fred however, who is much more manipulative than he appears.

    All of his top staff has jumped ship, several times now, and that says something about the man.

    I also objected to Fred’s arrogance, traveling the world while bus service was being cut here at home, all the while drawing his payroll tax subsidized paycheck.

    Fred also became a millionaire while a ‘public servant’, I find that troubling.

    He mishandled funds, specifically the gas futures and the Wes, and he expanded the bureaucracy out of sight.

    The west side of the Trimet service area has suffered the most under his rule. Still riding in dilapidated non air-conditioned buses with unreliable lifts and mold infested heating systems.

    Very little attention has been paid to the long time users of the Trimet system. Fred only cared about expansion of the system.

    Fred had one goal, put in rail, period. He believed that money would flow forever apparently so there were no contingency plans for funding crisis’s like the crisis we are having now.

    Fares have gone up much higher than inflation, hurting the common rider.

    Fred has created a transit system for the elite, not for people that actually need transit.

    And now on his way out the door he is trying to break our union and screw the workers who do all the work, and that is UNFORGIVABLE.

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