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TriMet’s new buses come with three-bike front racks

Posted by on April 25th, 2019 at 12:05 pm

New bus with new racks today in Pioneer Courthouse Square.
(Photo: TriMet)

It’s taken 12 years, but TriMet has finally added capacity for three bikes to their buses. Well, some of them at least.

We learned today that the design of the agency’s five new electric buses allows them to use a three-bike front rack. The new rack made its debut an event in Pioneer Square today.

This is a big deal because the existing two-bike racks often fill up and there’s plenty of public demand for more room. And it was way back in 2007 that we first reported TriMet was interested in finding a three-bike rack that would work.

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The new rack is the “Trilogy” model made by Sportworks(the same company TriMet uses for other racks). According to them, the rack’s support arm will fit bicycles with wheel sizes from 20 to 29 inches. The trays can support bikes with a wheelbase of up to 44-inches and tires up to 3 inches wide.

Back then, the agency said the problem was that the added width of a third rack would make the turning radius of buses (a.k.a the “dynamic envelope”) too wide.

A source at TriMet said the key to making this work on the new buses is the nose design — which affects the turning radius. The length between the operator’s steering wheel and the forward edge of the two bike rack (while in use) is the same length as between the steering wheel on the electric bus and the front edge of the three-bike rack.

Just one of TriMet’s new buses is in operation (on Line 62 in Beaverton). A second one is due to be in service by the end of the month and the remaining three are still en route to Portland. It remains to be seen if the five additional electric buses will work with the new racks.

Hopefully TriMet can figure out how to fit these racks onto more buses in the future.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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11 Comments
  • Avatar
    John Lascurettes April 25, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    Yes! There have been many times I’ve wanted to just switch to a bus but the front rack was full.

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    Josh G April 25, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    Hallelujah. I’ve barely fit a bike with long wheelbase and 29×2.3 Big Apple slicks on the old rack by deflating a little. 44 inches is the wheelbase of the Jeff Jones LWB out of Medford.

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    9watts April 25, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    “This is a big deal because the existing two-bike racks often fill up and there’s plenty of public demand for more room”

    I’ll be the first to agree that a fifty percent increase is noteworthy, laudable, and appreciated, but changing the rules/doors to allow overflow bikes onto buses under certain conditions (available space on the bus, etc.) would be a nice gesture. Some transit agencies allow this, have rules that permit this.

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    Jim Lee April 25, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    Now all they must do is make the e-buses run.

    Last Friday I traveled to Sunset TC to cop an e-ride–to find an old diesel bus parked under the fancy charging apparatus.

    I have another report of an e-bus stalled out on the route–out of juice?

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    Todd Boulanger April 25, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    This 3 rack design looks better than some of the earlier styles that I have had problems with as a user…to the point of wishing for the old 2 rack style.

    I do understand the capacity issues of the old two rack…I have often had to ride ahead of some buses until the rack opens up in Honolulu…if that bus was the last connection or bridging a bike barrier (mountain range) that I needed a bus to cross with….and knew the rack would empty soon.

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    Max April 25, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    We’ve been asking for 3-bike racks for WAY longer than 12 years. Also, let’s not forget that TriMet pays *extra* for the extended nose on the Gillig buses they’ve been purchasing since 2012 (this adds 1′ to the length). The “dynamic envelope” excuse is and always has been total BS.

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    Max April 25, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    Here are the added lengths for the Sportworks racks:

    Sportworks DL2 (the current 2-bike rack) – 26.6″
    Sportworks DL3 “trilogy” (3 bike version) – 30.0″
    Sportworks Apex3 (3 bike rack) – 30.8″ — this one I believe is commonly used in Seattle.

    Executive summary:
    TriMet has been arguing that adding 3.4″ to the front of the bus for a 3rd bike rack is impossible, but they had no problem adding 12″ for the extended Gillig nose.

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    ChadwickF April 26, 2019 at 1:47 am

    Nice!
    Thanks for the additional information in the comments above, Max.

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    Bill B April 26, 2019 at 6:56 am

    Every bus in Eugene has had 3 bike racks installed since 2011. It’s about time Trimet got it’s act together on this issue.

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    • Avatar
      Tim April 28, 2019 at 7:14 pm

      Even the LTD hand me down bus running between Eugene and Oakridge has a 3 bike rack……

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