(VIDEO) Kicking off TriMet’s golden anniversary with a party in Pioneer Courthouse Square


On Tuesday, Sept. 10, TriMet began celebrating 50 years of service to the Portland metro area

The year was 1969. Across the country, there were winds of change. Richard Nixon was sworn in as the 37th President of the United States. The Boeing 747 took its maiden flight. Two American astronauts became the first humans to set foot on the moon. Some 400,000 people attended a three-day music festival in New York known as Woodstock.

In Portland, there were rumblings of change as well. With the only private bus company in the city losing riders, looking to increase fare and facing bankruptcy, the City of Portland adopted Resolution No. 30598. It created a new mass transit district to serve the tri-county area. On Oct. 1, 1969, TriMet was born.

An early TriMet bus, acquired from Rose City Transit

Exactly two months later, TriMet began operations with about 175 buses inherited from the defunct Rose City Transit Company. We initially served an estimated 65,000 riders daily across 36 routes. Fare was 35 cents.

Flash forward 50 years. It’s 2019, and we’ve expanded to 86 bus lines, five MAX lines, WES commuter rail and LIFT paratransit, with an average of 310,000 trips provided each day.

As we celebrate our modest beginnings and ambitious future, what will we remember about this year, 50 years from now? Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Expanding bus service: We’re in the midst of the largest bus service expansion in history. This year alone, we’ve added a new bus line, increased service on weekends, expanded hours and refined routes for faster trips and less waiting.
  2. Going electric: We’re road-testing our first battery-electric buses, powered by 100% clean wind energy. We’ve also announced plans to convert to a non-diesel bus fleet no later than 2040.
  3. Speeding up buses: We’re working with partners throughout the region to make transit a priority. By getting buses out of traffic and speeding up trips, we’re making transit a better option and help keep the region moving.
  4. Adding new and better transit: We’re breaking ground later this year on Division Transit Project, to bring faster and higher capacity bus service from Gresham to Downtown Portland. We’re also beginning to fine tune plans for our next MAX light rail line, serving the highly congested Southwest Corridor.
  5. Improving the ride: We’re growing our fleet to more than 700 buses, with 71 new buses arriving in the coming year alone. And, we’re in the midst of designing our next MAX trains, with those new vehicles arriving in 2021.

Time to celebrate

TriMet50: Kickoff Party
Tuesday, Sept. 10
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Pioneer Courthouse Square

On Tuesday, we kicked off our golden anniversary with a party in Pioneer Courthouse Square, complete with birthday cake and cupcakes, live music and lots of TriMet swag. We had four buses on the Square, each one representing a unique era in TriMet’s history. We welcomed riders to walk back in time from where we are now to where we were when it all began and invited them to get onboard and enjoy the ride as we roll through our next 50 years.