New TriMet buses to begin service in less than a month


Year two of TriMet’s accelerated bus purchase brings 70 new buses this summer and fall



In less than a month, TriMet riders will begin to see the first of 70 new buses to be added to service this summer and fall. The new buses referred to and numbered the 3100-series are more fuel and emissions efficient and include operator and rider improvements.

Gillig, the manufacturer out of Hayward, CA will assemble one bus a day. TriMet will take delivery of three to five buses per week for roughly 18 weeks this summer and fall.  It will take TriMet staff two weeks to get them service ready including DMV title, license and registration.

The new buses cost $413,000 each and will be distributed between two TriMet garages, Merlo Garage in Beaverton and Center Street Garage in SE Portland. TriMet will begin to replace fleet vehicles that are highest on the retirement priority list.

“One of my top priorities during my tenure is to reinvest in our system. Accelerating the bus purchase schedule furthers TriMet’s mission to provide valued transit service that is safe, dependable and easy to use,” said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane. “TriMet is committed to reinvesting in safety, service and our vehicle fleet, which will help ensure the long-term reliability and comfort of our system.”

New features

TriMet made modifications to help improve the onboard experience, for both riders and operators:

  • 3100-series Interior

    3100-series Interior

    Passenger seats have a composite seat frame that weigh less, cost less and should show less dirt and finger prints than the stainless steel frames and backs in the 3000s.

  • Boarding the vehicle will be even easier for customers in mobility devices due to slight modifications to the lift mobility ramp and a new ramp guard added to help direct mobility devices further into the bus before turning down the aisle.
  • Ramp warning light inside the vehicle will alert customers on the bus that the ramp is going to deploy.
  • Higher quality digital cameras, with better image quality, hard drives and improved positioning.
  • Operator seats are more adjustable, including the ability to adjust the front of the seat cushion for varying degrees of thigh support or comfort.
  • Interior side walls will now match the color and texture of the modesty panels, or panels that separate the high seats over the rear wheel well and the seat at the low-floor level.

 Improving fuel and emission efficiency

The 3100-series have a 2013 EPA compliant engine that has a bit more fuel and emissions efficiency than previous models. The low-emission engines keep pollutants out of the air. Like the 3000-series buses the new buses have a Cummins Diesel Engine package designed to reduce tailpipe emissions dramatically. This includes Selective Catalytic Reduction technology, which scrubs nitrogen oxides and particulates (pollutants that cause smog and health problems) from the exhaust.

Additionally, the transmission has a load-based shifting program that can tell when the bus is on a hill with a lot of riders, and shifts accordingly to match conditions. Testing in a few 2900s and 3000s has shown improved fuel economy.

Like the 3000 buses, the 3100s have an innovative cooling system that TriMet pioneered, improving fuel efficiency by 5-10 percent. Already in use on many of our buses, it uses an electrified subsystem instead of a hydraulic or mechanical fan, so it draws less power off the engine.

Standard features

Like the buses delivered last year, each bus comes with standard air conditioning, automatic stop announcements, easy-to-clean vinyl seats and interior surfaces, larger windows, handrails and a gently sloping floor at the rear exit, a next-generation GPS dispatch/tracking system and improved windshield visibility for operators.

Many of the exterior features of the new buses match those of the 3000s including a bright, easy-to-read LED overhead sign on the front of the bus, electric starters for quieter starts, automatic drop-down snow chains, brighter, energy-efficient LED headlights with cornering lights and turning signal lights on the mirrors for safety.

Like all of our newer buses, the 3100-series has low floors for easy boarding and external stop announcements that identify the bus line and destination.


The agency delayed new bus purchases for a few years due to the recession, however in 2012 TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane accelerated the bus replacement schedule to address TriMet’s aging bus fleet that had become more expensive to maintain and less reliable. Some buses in the fleet are more than 18 years old.

In 2012 the agency purchased 51 diesel and 4 new hybrid buses. This year the agency will purchase 70 forty foot diesel buses, the largest order in the accelerated bus purchase. Over the next three years TriMet will add another 184 buses. By 2016, the average age of our fleet will be the industry recommended standard of eight years. By 2017, TriMet will have replaced all of the remaining high-floor buses in the fleet, those with steps at the door.