TriMet’s Better Red project receives Medium-High rating from Federal Transit Administration


FTA rating important next step for project that will extend and improve MAX Red Line, providing people with better connections and increased reliability

The Federal Transit Administration has issued TriMet a Medium-High rating for our Better Red Project. The project will extend the MAX Red Line to Hillsboro and improve sections of track near Portland International Airport and Gateway Transit Center, providing riders better connections and more reliable trips throughout the MAX system. The Medium-High rating allows TriMet to continue project development with a stronger likelihood that the Better Red project will qualify for funding through FTA’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program. An FTA Small Starts Grant could pay for about half of the *$206 million project, with TriMet paying the remainder, along with contributions from Metro and the Port of Portland. Construction on the Better Red project is anticipated to begin in 2021, with improved MAX Red Line service rolling out in 2024.
*Note: Project cost has been updated.

More service in Beaverton and Hillsboro

TriMet’s MAX Red Line currently runs between Beaverton Transit Center and Portland International Airport. The Better Red project will extend the line to the west, to run between the Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport Station and Portland’s airport. This will add MAX Red Line service to ten stations where currently riders are only served by MAX Blue Line trains. With growth in both housing and jobs continuing in Washington County, the Red Line extension will double service for people between the Fair Complex Station and Beaverton Transit Center, where trains are already often crowded during commuting hours. It will also create a one-seat ride for more people heading to and from the Portland airport.

The expanded service will require improving track and switches and upgrading the signal system in the area, as well as building an operator break facility at the Fair Complex Station.

Track improvements in NE Portland

A second track on a new structure north of Gateway Transit Center would help provide a faster travel time for inbound MAX riders. Conceptual rendering subject to change

The Better Red project will have a positive, rippling effect for MAX riders system-wide. The project will add a second set of track to sections of the MAX Red Line in Northeast Portland where currently there is only a single track. Delayed Red Line trains between Gateway/NE 99th Ave Transit Center and Portland International Airport can back up trains and riders on other lines as they pass through Gateway Transit Center. The added track and re-configuration of the Red Line through Gateway Transit Center will create a better flow for trains through the transit center.

A new station immediately west of the Providence Gateway parking lot would serve inbound Red Line trains only, connected to Gateway Transit Center with an accessible pathway. Conceptual rendering subject to change

New trains to meet growth

As part of the Better Red project, TriMet plans to add six new light rail vehicles to accommodate the extended service.

Making Transit Better

TriMet’s Better Red is part of our commitment to make transit better, with ongoing upgrades to tracks, stations and vehicles that improve reliability and make the ride more comfortable.

TriMet’s MAX Red Line provides vital connections within our region. Planning for the Red Line extension began with the Westside Service Enhancement Plan in 2013. The reliability improvements were later added to help meet TriMet’s goals for improving the on-time performance of the MAX Light Rail System. Following both broad public and focused stakeholder outreach in 2017 and 2018, the project began development in 2019.  

FTA Annual Report on Funding Recommendations

On Monday, February 10, the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Budget was released.  In conjunction with the President’s Budget, and as required by law, FTA published its FY 2021 Annual Report on Funding Recommendations. View the Annual Report here.

The FTA rates potential Capital Improvement Grant (CIG) projects based on local financial commitment and project justification criteria. The justification criteria includes:

  • Mobility Improvements
  • Environmental benefits
  • Congestion Relief
  • Cost Effectiveness
  • Economic Development
  • Land Use

View Capital Investment Program Project profiles, including TriMet’s submissions, here.