hooks, but fewer of them.
(Photo: Jim Parsons)
TriMet’s new Westside Express (WES) commuter service officially opened at the end of January to big celebrations, but people that showed up to ride the train with their bikes in tow, quickly found that the WES has less — as in, less hooks for bikes.
Max Campos rode the train on opening day and he was immediately concerned that the WES comes equipped with just two bike hooks per car instead of the four that exist in other trains in the MAX system. After he rode home on the WES, Campos wrote on the Shift email list, “I’m concerned about this….On the train ride back both hooks in my car were full and I thought ‘oh god, and the thing isn’t even open yet!'”
Fortunately, TriMet is aware of the problem and they are currently looking into solutions to accomodate more bicycles on WES trains.
At the outset of their Board Meeting last night, TriMet’s executive director of operations Steve Banta brought up the issue. Max Campos
was at the meeting and posted a video of the exchange that was taken by Jason McHuff, who was at the meeting.
In the video, Banta tells the Board and TriMet GM Fred Hansen that,
“What we’re looking at is to be able to increase the area in which we can secure a bike and still meet the FRA (Federal Railroad administration) standard of a bike being secured. One of our thoughts was in the area for wheelchairs there’s a stanchion where we could put bungee cords on to be able to strap a bike to if the area wasn’t being used….. the other thing we’re going to look at is to determine if there’s any other place inside the cabin of the train where we could put a stanchion to be able to strap bikes to.
These are issues that came up after the first week of operation and we’re in the infancy of trying to solve them.”
Fred Hansen responded to Banta and said there are no requirements about whether a bike needs to be “absolutely secure”. “We have hooks,” he said, “…if those are full, people can put bikes other places, stand next to them, etc…”
Hansen went on to say,
“…on the issue of the FRA, they actually require any object that could be move/fly/hit someone has to be secured. That’s why there’s a different set of requirements for how bikes are secured on commuter rail versus on the MAX system.”
WES falls under the FRA’s jurisdiction (and therefore is more highly regulated), whereas the MAX light rail system does not.
Accommodating riders with bikes has been a thorn in the side of TriMet for some time now. It has become clear that they want to focus on park and ride, instead of adding capacity for bikes. They are, after all, in the business of moving people, not moving bicycles. It will be interesting to see if they add new facilities on their trains for bikes, or if they encourage park and ride, or…?
We have a contact into TriMet and others for more information and we will keep you posted on any developments.