TriMet story archives

Browse headlines below for all my TriMet stories.

People keep talking about a regional transportation ballot measure for 2018

Posted on July 11th, 2016 at 10:32 am.

The region’s biking and walking goals (green line) are far cheaper to build than its auto or transit goals, but at the current rate they won’t be built until 2209.

As Oregon legislators start talking about the statewide transportation bill many hope to pass in 2017 (look for some reporting on that soon), others are starting to think locally, too.

We’ve heard from various sources recently that some people in the Portland area are looking toward November 2018 as the right moment for a region-wide bond measure for transportation. The idea is to create a burst of new money for public transit, roadways, biking and walking.

How much of each, you ask? Those negotiations would probably get underway over the next year.


The story of today’s Portland in the path of the No. 75 bus

Posted on June 21st, 2016 at 9:49 am.

riding against the grain
Screengrab from bus75.org, photo by Geoffrey Hiller.

We don’t often publish transit-only posts, but we’ll make an exception for this one.

Portland-based photographer Geoffrey Hiller is working on an all-year project to document the life of Portland through the lens of a single bus line: the No. 75 that runs between Milwaukie and St. Johns via Chavez, 42nd and Lombard.

For a post yesterday, he recruited Portland-based transit consultant and writer Jarrett Walker (who happened to be a teenage intern at TriMet in the 1980s, when the 75 bus was created) to write about the ways the 75 reveals this moment in Portland’s ebbing, flowing life.

The result is a short illustrated essay that is, somehow, both about our city and about good public transit network design. It’s something to behold:


As TriMet puts another $2 million into WES, some imagine the bike trail that wasn’t

Posted on May 26th, 2016 at 9:41 am.

Waiting for WES
WES at Beaverton Transit Center.
(Photo: Thomas Le Ngo)

TriMet’s Westside Express Service commuter rail line, built for the equivalent of $178 million in 2008, is getting some new investment.

The line between Beaverton Transit Center and Wilsonville costs TriMet $135,000 per week to operate and serves something like 900 to 1,000 people per weekday.

That comes out to a cost of $14.83 per boarding in April, compared to $2.68 per boarding of a frequent-service bus line or $2.36 per MAX boarding.

The Oregonian reported Monday that the regional transit agency was agreeing this week to spend another $2 million to buy and retrofit two rail cars from Texas:


Reminder: TriMet MAX repairs will cut service, crowd trains for two weeks

Posted on May 6th, 2016 at 8:35 am.

Grounds for repair on First Avenue.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

As we reported last month, the next two weeks will be good times to bike or bus all the way to work rather than trying to get a bike on MAX.

That’s because MAX track and pavement repairs on First Avenue downtown that start on Sunday will scramble service on every line in the system, increasing wait times between trains by 25 to 35 percent and cutting system capacity 30 to 50 percent.

In short: good luck finding a free bike hook, or even squeezing your bike on the rush-hour trains at all.


With bike sharing two months away, TriMet links ticketing app to Lyft, car2go

Posted on May 5th, 2016 at 3:10 pm.

A screenshot from TriMet’s ticketing app.

The more seamlessly mobile future we’ve been talking about since November has started to arrive.

On Thursday, TriMet announced that you can now begin the process of hailing a Lyft or reserving a car2go using their TriMet Tickets app.

“More options, including BIKETOWN bike sharing, are expected be included in the future,” the regional transit agency wrote on its website.

This is a milestone for two reasons: first, it seems to be the first time any transit agency in the country has offered this kind of service, which envisions transit users not as monomodal drones who only get around by train or bus but as actual humans who are constantly using different tools for different jobs.

Second, it’s a real-life step (though a small one) toward the vision spelled out by cities like Helsinki to “make car ownership pointless” within a decade by creating a single, connected “mesh” of options that can whisk you around the city as efficiently — more efficiently, actually — as owning a car and taking it everywhere with you.


Yikes! Bikes almost roll in the way of buses, trains in close-call videos

Posted on April 25th, 2016 at 12:11 pm.

Sometimes we all make mistakes. TriMet wants more people to think about the fact that some mistakes can be fatal.

It can be difficult to talk about this subject without blaming the victims of traffic violence. To its credit, the video TriMet released today focuses on examples of people who are acting both illegally and at least a little recklessly rather than (as the New York City transit union did recently) condemning people simply for not being cautious. There’s a big difference.


Bike share stations on transit mall and city parks land? TriMet says yes, Parks Bureau says no

Posted on April 5th, 2016 at 11:11 am.

possible biketown station locations
Possible station locations downtown. No sites are proposed for Waterfront Park (the green strip on the left of the river).
(Image from the city’s feedback website)

Though other cities have seen some memorable freakouts about the prospect of bike sharing stations, Portland hasn’t yet heard many loud complaints that Biketown stations would begrime beloved public spaces.

TriMet, for example, said last week that although it doesn’t allow blue bike “staple” racks on its downtown transit mall (more on that below), it won’t have a problem with orange bikes being parked there.

But so far, there’s one major city department that’s been keeping its distance from bike sharing: Portland Parks and Recreation.


TriMet work on 1st Ave will mean smoother pavement and crowded trains

Posted on April 4th, 2016 at 4:35 pm.

Damaged track switches on 1st Avenue.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

“The trains will be so crowded that cyclists will be waiting to get into a train.”
— TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt on MAX overcrowding during the project

Here’s the good news: the badly worn pavement on NW 1st Avenue, an important but unpleasant biking connection to the Steel Bridge and Waterfront Park, is about to be fixed.

Here’s the bad news: the repair project will snarl TriMet’s entire light rail system for two weeks next month, cutting the frequency of every MAX line and leading to extremely crowded trains that will probably be unable to fit bikes.

That’s why TriMet is urging people to avoid taking bikes on MAX during the repair work, May 8-21.


Bus riders’ union launches new campaign: Discount fares for low-income people

Posted on March 11th, 2016 at 9:45 am.

TriMet bus with rack
Great transit access is closely linked with
less driving and more cycling.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

One year after it persuaded TriMet to add 30 minutes to the life of every transit fare, a local transit advocacy group has a new goal.

Bus Riders Unite, a rider-led project of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, will launch a new campaign chosen by its members: for the Portland region’s transit system to follow Seattle’s and San Francisco’s by offering lower transit fares to lower-income people.

“We think the most reasonable and simplest approach would be to let low-income people have the same fare honored citizens currently receive,” said OPAL spokesman Shawn Fleek.

Due in part to federal law, TriMet offers half-price tickets to people ages 65 and up, people on Medicare and people with disabilities, a grouping the agency refers to as “honored citizens.”

But over the years, U.S. poverty trends have shifted. As of 2014, 15 percent of Oregonians age 19 to 64 live in poverty. So do 20 percent of Oregonians under age 19. For Oregonians aged 65 and up, the figure is 7 percent.


TriMet driver publishes his latest ‘Report Card’ for Portland bikers

Posted on February 26th, 2016 at 8:30 am.

Ride Along with Ali Reis-23
A time for empathy in both seats.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Dan Christensen, a former TV writer and stand-up comedian turned TriMet bus operator, is one of the best windows Portlanders have into the emotional life of our transit system.

On his recently rebooted Roll Easy Blog, Christensen has an interesting set of perspectives about the things he feels the city’s bike users are doing well, and where they (or the streets beneath them) could improve.