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Sneak peek inside TriMet’s new Orange Line MAX trains

Posted by on April 1st, 2015 at 10:42 am

Lower hooks and more room in new MAX trains coming to the Orange line.
(Photos by Jim “K’Tesh” Parsons)

TriMet has spent just over $79 million on 18 new MAX trains that will run on the Orange Line when it opens in September. If you board the new “Type 5” trains with a bike, you’ll notice that they differ in some key ways.

Yesterday TriMet gave a few lucky folks a chance to step inside and get a closer look. Our correspondent Jim Parsons was one of them.

“It’s much roomier,” was his first impression. Having more breathing room is a plus for bike-toting passengers.

Beyond that, the biggest change Parsons noticed was that the wheel hook used to hang bicycles is lower compared to the existing Type 4 trains. That has pros and cons. “The lower hooks are better for people who have a hard time lifting the bike as high,” Parsons said, “but it’s not good for longer bikes and bikes with fenders and mud flaps might hit the ground.” He also noticed that the way the new hook is aligned means fatter-tired bikes might have a hard time squeezing onto the hook.

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Here are a few more images of other bikes to show the hook and ground clearance and overall context of the bike storage area:

Another improvement in the new trains has to do with security. In the older Type 4 trains, seats in what TriMet refers to as the “parlor cab” — the area at the end of each train — faced away from the entry doors. That meant if you hung your bike on the hook and found a free seat in the parlor section, you couldn’t easily keep an eye on your bike (and yes, people do get bikes stolen off the hooks).

In the new trains, TriMet has changed that so now almost all the seats (20 out of 22) face the doors and the bike hook area. Here’s a TriMet graphic showing the new arrangement:

We also asked TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch if the Type 5 trains had any other bike-specific improvements. She pointed out that the Orange Line expansion itself is a bonus: “The more we expand our system and put more service on the street,” she explained, “the more space for bicyclists [on the road].”

In addition, Fetsch pointed out that the new trains have more room and more seats — 372 maximum capacity versus 344 on the Type 4 trains. That means when things are crowded, and the hooks are full, there will be more room to stand with your bike if necessary.

Learn more about the new trains at TriMet.org/newMAX

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38 Comments
  • kiel johnson
    kiel johnson April 1, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Only four hooks inside each train?!?!?! The current trains have 8. This will have a huge impact on people with bikes on trains. More people holding bikes in aisles and more people getting upset at people holding bikes. During rush hours and many other hours all 8 hooks are full, removing half is a disaster!

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  • kiel johnson
    kiel johnson April 1, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Oh nevermind, I guess the old ones only have 4 as well. Douh 🙂 Disaster averted!

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    • Jeff April 1, 2015 at 11:01 am

      The lack of available bike hooks on the MAX was what motivated me to start riding all the way to work and avoiding the MAX completely.

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      • J_R April 1, 2015 at 3:51 pm

        The lack of functioning fare machines at too many Max stations led me to abandon TriMet in favor of my bike.

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      • stace April 2, 2015 at 8:34 am

        Same for me! I used to be a wuss about riding up the hill on interstate so when I first started bike commuting I would ride the max up through this section. Then about 7 years ago on a 100+ degree day, the max train was packed to the gills and I couldn’t board. Frustrated with waiting for the next train especially since the trains were also having heat related issues, I decided to try biking up the hill. It wasn’t nearly as hard as I expected, and from that day forward, I never waited for the max again opting instead to ride up the hill. Now I laugh at the fact that I thought that hill was challenging, but as a newer bike commuter and not is as good of shape as I am not (thanks to biking!), the terrain intimidated me.

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      • Jake April 2, 2015 at 8:52 am

        You guys don’t realize how lucky you are. Those of us taking trains in other cities have to hold our bike up. Sometimes we even have to stand with the bike in designated areas!

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    • Tom Hardy October 7, 2015 at 10:24 pm

      It is 4 hooks on each car. with only a slight change there is room for 8 hooks in each car with very little change in standing room. 2 hooks per bar not sloped.

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  • Dave April 1, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Impressive room for bikes that don’t look short.

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  • Chris April 1, 2015 at 11:23 am

    I’ve been reprimanded by Trimet security for sitting and leaving my bike unattended. I was told that I needed to stand by the bike to ensure that it didn’t fall off the hook. This was a few years ago, so maybe the bike rack has been improved since then.

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    • Adron @ Transit Sleuth April 1, 2015 at 7:33 pm

      Trimet also put the rubber bits on em’ to prevent them from falling off. Generally nobody will bug you about them anymore. I use the MAX all the time when I’m being lazy and want to stop peddling a while. 🙂

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  • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Inquiring minds wonder how the lower hook height was decided upon. Based on the photos here I am imagining that older mountain bikes (which tended to have extra long wheelbases compared to other styles and vintages) might not fit (so well). Does TriMet have a suggestion for what to do if one’s (non-tandem/non-Extracycle/cargo-longtail) bicycle won’t fit the hook?

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  • invisiblebikes April 1, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    My question is, it’s not clear if I board with my long tail if I’m allowed to do that or if my bike is prohibited on trains?

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    • Chris I April 1, 2015 at 12:43 pm
      • 9watts April 1, 2015 at 12:45 pm

        “Bikes with child seats, panniers or other accessories that block an operator’s vision out the front of a bus are not allowed.”

        Fortunately this one seems not to be enforced.
        Panniers blocking driver’s vision?!

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        • CaptainKarma April 1, 2015 at 1:33 pm

          I’d be worried about some cretin doing a snatch ‘n grab of my panniers off the front of the bus if they weren’t literally locked down to the bike. I know my ortleibs would just pop right off if the the thief knew how.

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      • invisiblebikes April 1, 2015 at 3:38 pm

        Aren’t we talking about “train” access here? your bullets are for bus’s and their front loading bike racks.
        And if these are aimed at trains then they are over generalized and don’t specify bike length. And my long tail is the same length as a (ahem) recumbent(dork mobile) so if they are allowed on trains then my long tail should be to.
        That’s where it is unclear.

        Disclaimer: yeah that’s right, I think recumbents are silly nerd mobile’s… wanna fight about it? lol JK

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    • Spiffy April 1, 2015 at 1:27 pm

      on the newer low-floor MAX trains…

      “On low-floor MAX cars (those without stairs at the door), bikes must be hung on the hooks in the designated areas, one per space.”

      but…

      “If all the designated bike areas are occupied, you may use the priority seating area (displaying the wheelchair symbol) as long as there are no senior citizens or riders with disabilities present who need to use the area.”

      that seems to say that other able-bodies riders must give up the priority seating area to make room for a bike…

      http://trimet.org/howtoride/bikes/bikesonmax.htm

      may want to bookmark this for future arguments aboard MAX…

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    • John Liu
      John Liu April 1, 2015 at 2:14 pm

      Trimet says:

      “Only single-seat, two-wheeled bikes, folding bikes, and recumbents the size of a standard bike are allowed on TriMet.
      Tandems and bikes with oversized wheels, three or more wheels, trailers or those powered by internal-combustion engines cannot be accommodated. Electric bikes with a sealed battery compartment are permitted.
      Some bikes have wheels that are too large or too far apart to fit in TriMet’s racks.
      Folding bikes must remain collapsed while on board, and must have a wheel size of 20 inches or less.
      Bikes with child seats, panniers or other accessories that block an operator’s vision out the front of a bus are not allowed.”

      It would be ideal if there was one largish open area per train for cargo bikes. But since the train doors are in the center of the cars, and a cargo bike can be almost as long as the train is wide, it is hard to see how a MAX train could accommodate a cargo bike without really obstructing movement through the train.

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  • Spiffy April 1, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    lower hooks? my bike won’t fit… it’s slightly long (1103mm wheelbase) and the fender will drag… it barely fits on a bus rack, and on c-tran I have to bungee their wheel hook to my bike or my bike shakes off the rack (that was scary the first time)…

    I was pretty stoked that the type 4 trains had a higher hook because I could hang my bike…

    but I’m used to just standing next to it while it’s on its wheels across the bike area…

    also, my bike is upright with wide sweeping bars so when it’s on the hooks the handlebars bang against the door window… from the above pics it looks like the issue of upright style bikes blocking part of the door isn’t resolved…

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  • oliver April 1, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    I try to recommend to everyone, (particularly those with less upper body strength), that grabbing your bike by the seat tube and top tube and hanging from the back wheel gives you far more leverage than attempting to lift from the top tube with one hand while using the other hand to steady the handlebars.

    I’ve also found that because the front end weighs less than the rear end with a gear cluster/derailleur, there is less tendency for the bike to swing around when the train is going around corners.

    .

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    • Chris I April 1, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      And it will be easier to fit a bike with a slightly-too-long wheelbase, as the front wheel can be turned slightly when resting on the floor.

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      • Spiffy April 1, 2015 at 1:29 pm

        and there’s usually no fender all the way down to the front of the front wheel so it won’t get scratched….

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    • Granpa April 1, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      OR… Roll the bike onto the rear wheel, with hands on the handlebars and brakes engaged and rest seat against thigh or hip and raise thigh to lift bike onto hook. It is pretty much effortless.

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  • Joe April 1, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    cuse me please I need to hang my bike.. ppl standing around like huh? lolz
    bike rights 🙂

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  • Todd Boulanger April 1, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    Jonathan (& the other bike hook testers):
    – do the hooks look like they might hold bike wheels better? (I have seen and also had bikes almost come off the hooks in bumpy turns, I caught mine)? Does the flat part of the hook have more sticktion/ friction?

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  • Rob April 1, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    http://portlandtransport.com/archives/2015/04/trimet-and-metro-to-extend-blue-line-to-central-oregon.html
    Plus, now you can ride the blue line to Bend. Mountain biking problem solved!

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    • Nick April 1, 2015 at 1:38 pm

      April Fools

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  • Joe April 1, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    on ur left

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  • Champs April 1, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Too bad those Type 5 improvements won’t be prevalent for years.

    I’ll just bite my tongue about that singlespeed Dawes with aerobars.

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    • Chris I April 1, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      Ditto on the Dawes, haha.

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  • Fred April 1, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    That bike! Aero bars to slice through the wind, a single disc brake and single speed to cut weight, and, of course, pannier ready. If you see this bike overtake you as you’re sprinting to make all the lights on Williams, give up and take the MAX.

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  • Tom April 1, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    To add to the incongruity, the aerobar fixie also has a Burley Travoy trailer hitch. Check it out at the above link on a Pacific Coast bike tour.

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  • Todd Boulanger April 1, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    And the seat design looks like it may allow a youth bike’s rear wheel to rest near/ on the beach seat split opening thus intruding on the seated passengers…has anyone tried a kids bike in this (or the last generation) split seats?

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    • Todd Boulanger April 1, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      typo: “beach seat” should have been “bench seat”

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  • Trailer Question April 1, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    I have a Burley nomad trailer. Can I bring it on? It easily detaches and stands upright.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) April 3, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      No bike trailers are allowed on TriMet. I’ve never seen this enforced (and have seen it violated from time to time) but that’s at the discretion of the transit police and fare inspectors.

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  • Trikeguy April 2, 2015 at 10:35 am

    invisiblebikes
    Aren’t we talking about “train” access here? your bullets are for bus’s and their front loading bike racks.
    And if these are aimed at trains then they are over generalized and don’t specify bike length. And my long tail is the same length as a (ahem) recumbent(dork mobile) so if they are allowed on trains then my long tail should be to.
    That’s where it is unclear.
    Disclaimer: yeah that’s right, I think recumbents are silly nerd mobile’s… wanna fight about it? lol JK
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    Talk to me at the end of a century when I’m chilled out in my recliner on wheels :GRIN:

    Because of the length of my ride (nearly 7feet from the back of the rear wheel to the cranks) I had to make a special clamp+hook on the boom so I can hang it on MAX on the rare occasion that I need to ride it.

    One time on a busy day I had the operator page 3 times that “Generally, trikes are not allowed on MAX unless you can hang them” The third time the guy standing next to me where I was standing next to my *hanging* trike said “Um, you *are* hanging it?” All other TriMet personnel who have seen it on the train thought it was just fine there.

    So, I’d say if you can hang your ride in the spot (even if you need to adapt a bit) you would likely get the same treatment.

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  • Jeff Owen
    Jeff Owen April 6, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    The bike hooks on the Type 5 MAX vehicles are the same height (70″ from finished floor) as the Type 2 and 3 bike hooks. (Type 1 vehicles have the high floor with no bike hooks, and everything after those are low floor). The Type 4 vehicle bike hooks are the anomaly from the rest of the fleet – they are 3″ higher than the rest. The reason is that as the Type 4 vehicles were delivered to us, the bike hooks were at about 67″ from the finished floor, and we had issues with bikes falling off. The only way we could raise them was to turn the stanchion 180 degrees. In doing this on the Type 4 vehicles, the bike hook ends up about 3″ higher than our criteria of 70″ from finished floor.

    So in short, our criteria for the bike hooks is 70″ from finished floor and the Type 4 vehicles are the anomaly from the rest of the fleet.

    Hope this helps.

    Thanks,

    Jeff Owen
    TriMet Active Transportation Planner
    bikes@trimet.org

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