TriMet, like public transit systems across the country, was hammered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In February 2020 TriMet had an estimated 1.9 million weekly boardings. Two months later that number sunk to just 599,000. The agency then reduced service due to a driver shortage. Experts believe even if everything else “returns to normal,” it’s going to take a long time to recover pre-pandemic ridership.
How can TriMet recoup those bus riders? Well, that’s what it wants to know, too. So the agency is asking the community to fill out a short survey, which they title ‘Forward Together,’ about what people think should be prioritized as TriMet looks to beef up service.
Portland-based transit consultant Jarrett Walker says this will be the first step in a project looking at how TriMet should change its bus system as we come out of the pandemic.
“There will be additional surveys later when we have more information to present, but this helps get a first sense of what people’s priorities are,” Walker says.
Through the survey, TriMet says it’s “taking a deep look at our existing bus service and whether it is best serving our community,” looking at where buses are running now and where people think they should run, if riders are traveling more between the suburbs or in-and-out of downtown Portland and if people think TriMet should have more buses running frequently along popular routes or spread buses out so more parts of the Portland metro region are served.
The survey also asks how important certain equity considerations are to the community and what people think are the most important priorities TriMet should consider as service is restored.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people travel, and we may never go back to the way things were before, so we’re evaluating our plans to move forward together,” TriMet says.
The survey is open until March 31. Take it here.