TriMet looks back on 2019 with fond memories and a word of thanks

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TriMet celebrates greener, faster and better service, plus a birthday milestone in 2019

TriMet is ending 2019 with many reasons to celebrate and even more to give thanks. First, to our riders, who took more than 96 million trips on 85 bus lines, five MAX lines, WES Commuter Rail and our LIFT paratransit service. We’re also grateful for advances in technology that are fueling our test of zero-emission, battery-electric buses and helping reduce our carbon footprint. We’re thankful for funding resources that have continued the largest bus service expansion in our 50-year history. We also owe gratitude to our city, county, regional and state partners, who are taking steps to help us speed up buses, move them out of traffic and keep them on time. We’re excited to ring in a new year, but before we say hello to 2020, we’re taking a look back on the memories that made 2019 one we won’t soon forget.

Our top five memorable milestones of 2019

  1. We revved up efforts to curb our carbon footprint.
  2. We forged ahead with the largest bus service expansion in TriMet history.
  3. We worked with our partners to speed up transit and keep buses on time.
  4. We expanded access to transit and made it more affordable with our transition to Hop Fastpass® system.
  5. We turned 50!

1. We revved up efforts to curb our carbon footprint.

We marked 2019 with exciting new efforts to lessen our impact on the environment. In April, just days before Earth Day, we put the first of five zero-emission, battery electric buses into service on Line 62-Murray Blvd in Washington County. We also announced  a transit industry first – to power them with 100% clean wind energy, supplied by Portland General Electric. The following month, we launched another effort to reduce our carbon footprint. We began testing renewable diesel – a cleaner, low-carbon fuel that promises to reduce tailpipe emissions up to 50%. TriMet made a commitment in 2018 to convert our bus fleet to non-diesel zero-emissions power by 2040. We doubled down on that commitment this December, announcing major, near-term actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Among them:

  • Power our fully-electric MAX light rail system with 100% wind energy by February 2020,
  • Use renewable diesel in all buses by April 2020,
  • Stop the purchase of diesel buses after 2025,
  • Convert our fleet of service vehicles to electric and our non-bus heavy-duty vehicles to renewable diesel by 2030,
  • Support regional efforts to expand the Portland Public Schools Youth Pass, and
  • Analyze our current carbon footprint and develop a strategy to bring our carbon emissions to net zero.

2. We forged ahead with the largest bus service expansion in TriMet history

TriMet began our largest-ever bus service expansion in 2018, following the state’s adoption of House Bill 2017, the Keep Oregon Moving Act. The law created a stable, ongoing source of funding for transit statewide. We continued efforts to expand service through 2019, with more buses to more places at more times.

We also added 71 new buses to our fleet and retired older models, improving the ride throughout the region. New service also brings with it new jobs, as we hire operators, mechanics and support staff. In 2019, our front line team of bus and MAX operators grew to just under 1,600 employees, representing half of our total agency workforce.

3. We worked with our partners to speed up transit and keep buses on time.

In 2019, we strengthened our partnerships with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, Multnomah County, Metro and other jurisdictions. Working together, we’re speeding up transit and getting buses out of traffic. PBOT kicked off the Central City in Motion program with a new bus and bike-only lane on SW Madison Street and a new bus-only lane on SW Everett Street. Combined, the projects helped reduce delays on 10 bus lines by as much as 76%. Multnomah County added a new, eastbound bus-only lane to the Burnside Bridge in November, extending an existing lane between the bridge and SW 3rd Avenue. The projects on Madison and the Burnside Bridge were so successful – that we sped up schedules in December to help keep buses on time. PBOT also launched the Rose Lane Project, installing Oregon’s first ‘red paint’ transit-priority lanes on SW Main Street, NE Grand Avenue and NE Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd. The paint reminds auto drivers to stay out of the transit lane and helps keep our buses out of traffic. PBOT continued to make small but impactful improvements to roads and intersections across the city, to not only give buses more room but also improve the flow of all vehicles.

4. We expanded access to transit and made it more affordable with our transition to Hop Fastpass® system.

We expanded access to transit and introduced even more ways to pay with our industry-leading electronic fare system, Hop Fastpass®. Using a physical or virtual Hop card caps monthly fare costs, an element that was vital in making transit more affordable for riders living on a low income. Since expanding our Honored Citizen reduced fare in 2018 to those who make up to double the federal poverty level, more than 26,500 Oregonians have signed up to get unlimited rides for just $28 a month.

Hop is a better way to pay and can help all riders save on transit costs, we’re phasing out old forms of fare. We will no longer accept foil-stamped paper tickets or tickets purchased on the TriMet Tickets mobile app after Dec. 31, 2019. Since we announced plans to stop accepting the old-style tickets last April, we’ve helped thousands of riders switch to Hop, exchanging some $650,000 in old fares into money on Hop cards. We’ve also made it easier for those who like to pay with their phone. In May, Hop became the first transit fare card in North America on iPhone. Virtual Hop cards became available in Google Pay in 2018. Riders can still purchase paper Hop 2½ hour tickets and 1-day passes at ticket machines. Remember to tap these on Hop readers for every ride, just like with the Hop cards. Riders can also purchase tickets and day passes with cash onboard buses.

5. We turned 50!

Yes, in 2019, TriMet hit the big 5-0. We’ve kept the region moving for half of a century, providing vital connections to work, school, appointments and events. As we celebrate our past, we’re looking to the future, and we’re confident 2020 will be another good year. We’ll bring you more and better service, with faster, more reliable buses and trains, going to more places. We’ll also make improvements to bus stops and stations, adding new shelters and introducing a new generation of TransitTracker displays. We’ll break ground on the Division Transit Project, our first rapid transit, high-capacity bus line. We’ll also expand our fleet of electric buses, test new technologies and always keep innovating. It’s going to be an exciting year! Thank you for coming along for the ride. We’re glad you’re on board.