TriMet COVID-19 updates

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Oct. 15, 2020

Since the start of the pandemic, TriMet has worked to protect the health of our riders and employees, adapting as new information has become available from health experts. We wanted to bring you up to date on our most recent efforts to protect people’s health and educate the community.

Updates:

  • TriMet’s cleaners: Over the summer, TriMet added 124 cleaner positions—as well as six supervisors—to help keep buses and trains tidy and disinfected throughout the day. Not only has this program put people back to work at a critical time, but it’s also allowed TriMet to clean vehicles multiple times throughout the day and help keep our riders and operators healthy. We’d like you to meet three of our cleaners, who work every day to keep people moving.
  • Ventilation and airflow: Since one of the main ways health experts say COVID-19 spreads is through airborne droplets, TriMet wanted our riders to know more about how air is filtered and ventilated on our trains and buses. We explain how the HVAC systems work in this blog post, which also includes animation of air flow on a MAX train. As the animation shows, air passes through the HVAC’s filter about every 74 seconds, while the air itself is fully replaced about every 7.5 minutes.
  • COVID-19 Q & A: TriMet wanted to answer our riders’ questions aboutCOVID-19 and transit, so we turned to an expert: Kim Toevs, director of Multnomah County’s communicable disease program. In a series of videos, Toevs goes into detail about everything from the importance of face masks to whether it’s safe to walk by operators when boarding a bus. 
  • Mask PSAs: TriMet’s public service campaign continues to be a hit. These videos highlight the importance of wearing a face-covering on and off transit—while having a little fun in the process. Our video featuring Poison Waters was our second most liked Twitter post ever. We have currently released seven videos, all of which you can see here.
  • Permanent mask dispensers: Nearly all MAX trains are now equipped with two permanent face mask dispensers, with just 10 of the dispensers left to be installed. While all of our trains currently have at least the cardboard dispensers, the stainless steel ones are more durable and longer-lasting. We have already completed the installation of all the permanent face mask dispensers on our buses.
  • Ridership: During September, TriMet ridership was depressed by both the pandemic and the wildfire smoke, which kept many people indoors. Our weekly ridership was down 60.3% compared to September 2019. We have seen ridership go up since then, from a low of 676,296 trips for the week of Sept. 13 through Sept. 19, to 807,406 last week (Oct. 4 – Oct. 10). That’s down 58.5% from the same week in 2019. Remember, TriMet posts our weekly ridership on our website here.

Sept. 4, 2020

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, TriMet has taken steps to protect the safety of our riders and employees, all while continuing to provide essential transit service to our community. As it’s been a while since we last updated you, we wanted to bring you up to date on our efforts.

Updates:

  • TriMet’s 8-point plan: TriMet has moved quickly during the pandemic to help our riders and employees stay healthy. From expanding our cleaning efforts to implementing requirements and providing supplies and direction, our efforts and the principles guiding our response have been summarized in an 8-point plan we posted today on trimet.org/health.
  • Disposable face coverings: TriMet has required riders and employees to wear face coverings on board our buses and trains since May, based on the direction of the Oregon Health Authority. To help riders follow the requirement, we were one of the first transit agencies in the nation to provide disposable facemasks on board. Since May, TriMet has distributed more than 2.8 million masks, the vast majority of those to riders on board, at the TriMet Ticket Office and at our transit centers. 
  • Permanent mask dispensers: TriMet moved quickly to have masks for riders on board when the face-covering requirement went into effect. We are now installing permanent mask dispensers made of stainless steel on all our vehicles. More than half of our buses now have the permanent dispensers with installations on the rest of our buses and trains expected to be complete before the end of the month.
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers: TriMet installed hand sanitizer dispensers on all our buses, LIFT vehicles and WES trains. After a pilot project, we will be installing the hand sanitizer dispensers on the majority of our MAX trains in the coming weeks.
  • Operator safety panels: TriMet continues to retrofit buses with operator safety panels, and we expect all buses will have a panel by the end of September. Before March 2020, more than half of our buses already had the doors, made of safety glass, next to the operator’s seat a security measure. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that the panels help block airborne droplets, which health experts now believe to be the main way COVID-19 spreads. We now have more than 540 buses running with the operator safety panels.
  • Oct. 1 – cash payment on buses: As we announced yesterday, TriMet will once again accept cash fare payments on buses beginning Oct. 1, 2020. We had suspended the acceptance of cash on buses in March as a safety precaution to limit the time riders and operators are in close contact. Now, as the operator safety panels will be in place along with all of our other safety measures (mask requirement, hand sanitizer on board, consistent cleaning), riders will be able to pay for their bus ride using exact change. 
  • Weekday service added on 20 bus lines: TriMet is now running our fall schedule, which included restoring weekday bus service on 20 popular lines to where it was before our April service reduction. As you may remember, TriMet temporarily cut back on service at that time to reflect dropping ridership, while preserving safety and service. By restoring service now, it sets TriMet and our riders up for the future when the tri-counties move to phase two. As for now, it gives those who must ride more opportunity to get on board the first bus that comes. TriMet is limiting the number of riders on each vehicle for physical distancing.
  • Ridership: The Steel Bridge MAX Improvements project led to a higher number of daily rides in August, as a single train ride turned into three rides for many. For instance, a rider who typical rides MAX from Gresham to Downtown Portland had to take MAX to Rose Quarter, transfer to a shuttle bus to go across the river, then transfer to a MAX train at Old Town/Chinatown Station. That counts as three trips. Because of the Steel Bridge project, weekly ridership for August will likely come in at about 54.5% down from last August. The July 2020 weekly ridership was down 59.1% to 752,415 trip a week. Follow our weekly ridership report here.
  • Extensive cleaning: TriMet now disinfects all our buses with our fogging machines every night. Staff also do a thorough cleaning of MAX trains nightly, including using UVC lamps (the type used to sanitize operating rooms). We also have crews cleaning common touchpoints on buses and trains throughout the service day with a goal of about every four hours, as well as crews disinfecting touchpoints at our rail platforms and transit centers at least daily.

July 24, 2020

Closely following the guidance and consultation of regional and state health officials, TriMet continues our response to COVID-19 with improvements to help keep our riders and employees healthy and safe.

Updates:

  • TriMet plans to move to 3-foot spacing on board buses and trains, moderately increasing capacity, starting Sunday, July 26. The adjustments are in accordance with directives issued by the Oregon Health Authority and Gov. Kate Brown. Those include requiring face coverings and physical distancing on board and conducting more frequent cleanings of buses and trains. We have elevated cleaning procedures across the transit system during the pandemic to include nightly sanitization of all in-service vehicles, the use of disinfectant fogging machines, a pilot test of ultraviolet light disinfectant and the daily cleaning of frequently touched surfaces at transit centers and busy stops and stations. We have also hired 130 additional cleaning staff, and beginning Sunday, TriMet will disinfect major touch points on most buses and trains with a goal of four-hour intervals between disinfection.The transition to increase capacity will take some time, as signage (see attached photo) on our 700 buses and 145 MAX trains will all need to be updated to encourage physical distancing of 3-feet or more while onboard. The new capacity limits will be as follows:
  • 40-foot bus: 19-24 passengers (The vast majority of our buses are 40-feet long.)
  • 30-foot bus: 13-17 passengers
  • MAX trains: 22-26 passengers
  • WES trains: 25-37 passengers, depending on the type of car
  • Physical distance of at least 6 feet continues to be strongly suggested at transit centers, stops and stations. Face coverings are also required outdoors, when 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained.
  • TriMet was one of the first transit agencies in North America to install face-covering dispensers on board buses and trains, and in the last two months, we’ve distributed more than 1.5 million disposable surgical masks to riders and employees. We have also installed hand sanitizer dispensers on all buses and our Type 5 MAX trains and plan to install them on the remainder of our light rail vehicles. To support these ongoing efforts, we are working with a family-owned, Wood Village company to fabricate permanent, stainless steel face covering and hand sanitizer dispensers for all of our vehicles. Production is underway, and we expect to begin installation of the permanent dispensers in the next few weeks. (Photos of permanent dispensers attached)
  • We have also started the process of retrofitting hundreds of our buses with operator safety panels. The panels have an adjustable window that provides an added layer of protection for operators, acting as a shield between the operator and someone who is coughing or sneezing. Prior to the pandemic, TriMet had installed the panels on about half of our buses with the purpose of protecting operators from assault. We had planned to retrofit the remaining fleet over the next several years but fast-tracked installation due to COVID-19. We expect to have panels on all regular service buses by mid-August. We created this video to show the installation process.
  • With Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties still in Phase 1 of reopening, we continue to ask riders to use transit only for necessary trips. This helps leave space on board for those who must travel. For the week of July 12-18, ridership was estimated at 763,597 trips. While that’s down about 58% compared to July of 2019, it’s the highest weekly ridership total we’ve seen since mid-March. TriMet is posting weekly ridership updates here.
  • Our most ambitious capital improvements project to date will get underway in just over a week. Between Sunday, Aug. 2 and Saturday, Aug. 29, the Steel Bridge MAX Improvements project will bring a four-week closure of the bridge to MAX trains, buses and autos. All five MAX lines will be disrupted and shuttle buses will connect trips that cross the Willamette River. Face coverings are required on shuttles, just as they are on all of our buses and trains. Face coverings and hand sanitizer will be available for anyone who needs it. Physical distancing will limit the number of riders who can be on board at one time to between 19 and 24, so riders may have to wait longer for a shuttle bus than they have with past projects. As Gov. Kate Brown has required face coverings in outdoor spaces when 6-feet of distance cannot be maintained, we strongly encourage riders to wear a face covering while waiting for shuttle buses and when accessing transit centers, stops and stations. Learn more about the Steel Bridge MAX Improvements Project.

TriMet continues to post updates for riders on trimet.org/health and for media on news.trimet.org under the category COVID-19.

June 16,2020

While it has been some time since we shared an update to media, TriMet has continued our efforts to help keep riders safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Updates:

  • TriMet is quickly bringing on new cleaners so we can increase the disinfecting of common touchpoints on our buses and trains to about every four hours during the service day. This is on the recommendation of the Oregon Health Authority. The first group of 16 cleaners began training yesterday, and we will hire another 20 each week, starting June 29. We expect to add about 124 cleaners and six cleaning supervisors, who join other cleaning staff for our system. More than 300 people with diverse backgrounds and a wide variety of experience have applied for the new cleaning position so far. As we are able to clean vehicles throughout the service day more often, TriMet will follow OHA guidance and move to 3-feet distancing on board. That will increase the number of riders allowed on our buses and trains.
  • TriMet has required face coverings on board our buses and trains since May 20. We were also one of the first transit agencies in North America to provide disposable masks on board for riders who may not have their own. To date, we have given out more than 600,000 masks. That’s across all channels including on-board dispensers, at the TriMet Ticket Office, handed out by our On-Street Customer Service team and through our partnership with community-based organizations. We continue to receive more shipments. Check out this video from a recent delivery of more than a million disposable face coverings.
  • With health officials encouraging the use of hand sanitizer for keeping hands clean when hand-washing facilities are unavailable, TriMet has installed hand sanitizer dispensers on our some 700 buses. The push-lever dispensers are found inside the front door and near the rear door. (Our battery-electric buses have dispensers at the front door only due to space availability.) We have installed two hand sanitizer dispensers on our 18 Type 5 light rail vehicles. (These are our newest trains.) We’re going to evaluate them for use an misuse use prior to installing the dispensers on our other MAX and WES trains. All LIFT vehicles in use are also equipped with dispensers. Find some photos of a hand sanitizer dispenser installed on a TriMet bus attached.

TriMet will continue to post updates to riders on our trimet.org/health and social media accounts to encourage them to use precautions and follow the advice of the health experts.

May 29, 2020

TriMet joins the community in the slow and cautious return to daily life as our corner of Oregon begins to reopen.

Updates:

  • TriMet buses and trains continued to roll while most Oregonians stayed home to stop the spread of COVID-19. During that time, we’ve made a lot of changes to help keep our transit system, employees and riders safe. To help riders who must start returning to the system, here is how the TriMet system has changed in the last few month.
  • TriMet now requires everyone to use face coverings on the transit system. In addition to the onboard disposable mask dispensers, our On-Street Customer Service team has been distributing the masks at transit centers to those riders who need one. We’ve distributed more than 300,000 face coverings so far. Customer Service representatives do report that roughly 90% of the customers they saw arriving at transit centers and MAX stations already had a face coverings. That shows the vast majority of our riders understand that everyone has a role to play in preventing the spread of the virus.
  • TriMet now has 36 disinfecting fogging machines that we will use to thoroughly sanitize all our buses. We’ve purchased more than $4 million in cleaning supplies and devices, as well as personal sanitizing and protection equipment. Among the supplies, we’ve order 9,300 gallons of hand sanitizer, nearly 3 million face coverings and masks and 3.7 million nitrile gloves.
  • As TriMet elevates cleaning efforts even more, with the aim to clean vehicles about every four hours during the service day, we are now hiring more staff. We’ll bring on 124 new limited-term cleaners, with a starting wage of $18 an hour, and six limited-term cleaner supervisors. In just the first night after the posting went up, and after sharing the news on our social media, 30 people submitted applications.
  • TriMet ridership on our fixed-route buses and trains rose just slightly last week, the week of May 17. Riders took 628,338 trips last week, up more than 12,700 trips from the week prior, but still down 67% from the February weekly average.
  • Since the end of March, when concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect all our lives, ridership on our LIFT paratransit, which serves seniors and those with disabilities and medical conditions that put them at high risk, dropped dramatically. We went from about 3,800 trips a weekday to 400-450 rides per weekday. Over the past few weeks, however, riders are returning to LIFT and we’re provided about 550-600 trips per day. With face coverings required, passenger limits and elevated cleaning, it’s good to see some of our most vulnerable riders getting back out into the community. With the demand for service increasing, we will begin to look at bringing back some LIFT operators, employed by First Transit.
  • Late yesterday, TriMet learned that the FTA has allocated nearly $100 million in federal funding to our Better Red Project, the MAX Red Line extension and improvement 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 project will also improve the station at the Portland International Airport and bring with it in six new light rail vehicles. We thank our federal and congressional partners for this investment in transit and recognizing the value this project brings to the region. The Better Red Project is expected to create 1,200 jobs that will generate economic activity to help our region recover. Construction is expected to bring spring of 2021 with improved MAX Red Line service rolling out in 2024. I’ve attached the FTA news release about the funding.

TriMet continues to post updates for riders on trimet.org/health and for media on news.trimet.org under the category COVID-19.

May 19, 2020

TriMet appreciates riders who have already taken steps to protect themselves and others. We now ask others to do the right thing and comply with the new face-covering requirement on transit to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Updates:

  • Everyone will now be required to wear a face covering on TriMet’s buses and trains. The requirement for riders to use face coverings, as directed by the Oregon Health Authority, goes into full effect tomorrow, May 20, as TriMet announced last week. OHA also strongly recommends riders use face coverings at rail stations, transit centers and busy bus stops. This follows the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control when physical distancing of at least 6 feet from other individuals cannot be maintained. (Children under the age of two should not wear face coverings, nor should people with medical conditions or disabilities that prevent it.)
  • TriMet has installed disposable mask dispensers on board our buses and trains, to help riders comply with the face-cover requirement. We ask riders to only take a single mask when needed and dispose of it properly.
  • TriMet ridership dropped slightly last week, the week of May 10, after increases the two previous weeks. Riders took 614,786 trips last week, down more than 18,000 trips from the week prior, and down 67.7% from the February weekly average. Trips reached the lowest point of the COVID-19 pandemic during the week of April 19, when riders took just 585,206 trips. That was down more than 69% from the February weekly average of 1,901,445.
  • The Federal Transit Administration today publically announced the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding allotted to individual transit agencies (see attached), and the President tweeted about it.

    Many industries have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes transit. The federal CARES Act, passed by Congress in March, includes some $25 billion for public transportation agencies.

    TriMet learned from the Federal Transit Administration last month that we will receive nearly $185 million ($184,924,979). This funding will help TriMet bridge the current funding gap due to losses in fare revenue with ridership down by nearly 70%. It also helps us stave off additional service cuts and potential layoffs, for now. With payroll tax revenue expected to be down significantly, which makes up roughly two-thirds of TriMet’s annual revenue, the full economic impact of COVID-19 on our transit agency remains to be seen.

    As TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey has said, “TriMet thanks Oregon’s congressional delegation and our country’s leaders, as well as our community leaders, for their efforts and their support of transit during this challenging time. This aid reflects how transit provides a critical lifeline for communities across the nation, and that is never more evident than in a time of crisis.”

    (PLEASE NOTE: The CARES Act funding will be provided on a reimbursement basis, like any other grant. Once it goes through the routine FTA grant processing and review requirements, TriMet will be able to begin to draw down the funds for eligible expenses.)

May 8, 2020

TriMet is working closely with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s office and the Oregon Health Authority on measures that need to be taken on transit to keep riders, operators and other employees safe and healthy. While we expect more guidance from the state in the coming weeks, we are moving forward on the requirement for our employees to wear face coverings.

Updates:

  • Employees required to use face coverings
    By Monday, May 11, TriMet will require all employees to wear face coverings while on the transit system, or at other work sites, when they cannot keep at least 6 feet from others. This means people will see more operators, supervisors, fare inspectors and station cleaners wearing disposable masks or face coverings. MAX operators who are alone in the train cab and bus operators whose bus is empty may not be wearing a face covering but must use one when, and in areas where, riders are present. Employees who have a medical issue that prevents them from using face coverings may be exempt from the requirement.
  • TriMet vendors/contractors required to use face coverings
    TriMet’s requirement to wear face coverings will extend to vendors and contractors working with or for the agency when they are in public settings that do not allow for 6 feet of distance, or have a barrier such as a closed door. TriMet office employees who cannot consistently keep 6 feet from others must also use face coverings, unless a medical issue prevents it.
  • TriMet appreciates private donations of face coverings
    TriMet has gone to great lengths to secure disposable masks and face coverings for our employees. We have supplied coverings for frontline staff – especially bus operators – since early April. Our maintenance and cleaning staffs that require N95 masks for their work have had access to those throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to try to build our supply of face coverings, and we want to thank all of the organizations and individuals who have donated coverings to TriMet. We are all in the fight against COVID-19 together, and we appreciate the help and support of our community. 
  • Riders urged to wear face coverings
    TriMet strongly recommends that those who must ride our transit system to wear face coverings and physically distance themselves from others. To reduce interactions with others on buses, we ask riders, when possible, to exit through the back door while other passengers enter through the front doors.
  • Weekly ridership increase
    During the week of April 26, riders took 615,982 trips on TriMet’s fixed-route buses and trains. That’s down 67.6% from the February weekly average of 1,901,445. However, people took more than 30,000 more trips last week than the previous week (week of April 19).
  • ‘Stay home’ order in effect
    TriMet reminds riders that Gov. Kate Brown’s ‘stay at home’ executive order remains in effect through at least May 15. We understand that people are anxious to get out and about, especially with the nice weather, but we urge people to stay home just a little while longer.
  • On board limits for physical distancing
    As physical distancing is still required on board and our service reduction put in place on April 5 continues, TriMet is urging people to save the seats for those who must ride. That includes those who use transit to travel to and from essential jobs and services and are transit-dependent. TriMet buses are limited to no more than 10 individuals, or up to 15 if people are riding together (such as couples or parents with children). We also ask MAX riders to only ride if they are able to maintain 6 feet or space between themselves and others.
  • Possible COVID-19 exposure
    Many TriMet riders and operators have wondered what happens if we learn someone riding on a bus or train might have been exposed to COVID-19. Since March 24, we’ve removed at least 26 buses and trains from service for immediate disinfecting when there was a concern that someone who might have been sick with coronavirus was on board. Here is a blog post and video of TriMet’s process when that happens.
  • Emergency bottle return shuttle bus
    TriMet’s temporary, free shuttle bus to provide service for those needing to reach an emergency bottle return in Northwest Portland helped more than 80 people in its first week. The Line 297-NW Yeon/OBRC shuttle runs between the Rose Quarter Transit Center and the bottle return on NW Yeon Avenue operated by Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC). One rider told us that he really needs money right now to feed his kids so he’s started collecting bottles and cans, and this shuttle makes it convenient for him to do that. Along with the riders, the shuttle bus transported more than 140 bags of recyclables.  Get full details about the Line 297 here. Signs about the temporary shuttle bus line have been posted at all OBRC metro area redemption locations and flyers have been distributed to community partners that provide resources for those who are houseless. 
  • MAX POV video
    We shared another video on our Facebook page this week, giving people the view of the region from the front of a MAX train. This one shows the MAX Orange Line from Downtown Portland to Milwaukie and northern Clackamas County. The video we shared last week  showed the MAX Yellow Line southbound from Expo Center into Downtown Portland, and the Orange Line on 5th Avenue. These videos shows eerily empty streets during mid-morning on a weekday. (We captured both videos on Thursday, April 23 starting at 10:10 a.m.)

TriMet is posting updates for riders on trimet.org/health and for media on news.trimet.org under the category COVID-19.

April 30, 2020

TriMet stands with regional and state health authorities and Gov. Kate Brown’s office to urge our riders to hold the line and stay home. TriMet buses and trains serve 533-square-miles of Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. However, with parks, restaurants, businesses and other destinations still closed, please don’t ride and instead explore your neighborhood on foot or bike – while physically distancing from others. For those who must ride to reach essential jobs and services, please continue to use precautions for your safety and the safety of others, including our operators.

Updates:

  • With some dentist offices reopening and non-emergency medical procedures resuming May 1, we may see more riders using the transit system. We want to remind everyone to follow the recommendations of health experts and be prepared for changes on the transit system if they haven’t been on board the last several weeks:
  • Signs now mark off seats on buses and trains to give riders visual cues on where to sit to space themselves 6 feet from others.
  • As of March 26, TriMet has temporarily suspended cash payments on board buses since the farebox is within 3 feet of the operator. Riders need to pay using Hop and the Hop reader just inside bus doors. Riders can still use cash. They can purchase Hop tickets and day passes with cash at Hop ticket machines on rail platforms. They can also use cash to load money to their Hop card at hundreds of locations throughout the region.
  • TriMet buses are limited to no more than 15 people for the safety of our operators and riders. If buses are at capacity or trains are too full that riders cannot spread out by at least 6 feet, riders will need to wait for the next vehicle.
  • Riders using TriMet MAX and WES trains are also encouraged to spread out by at least 6 feet, and if the train is too full for physical distancing to wait for another train.
  • TriMet’s temporary, free shuttle bus between the Rose Quarter Transit Center and an emergency bottle return on NW Yeon Avenue began running today. The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC) is currently operating the temporary bottle return at its headquarters while grocery stores have suspended bottle returns. The new shuttle bus, Line 297-NW Yeon/OBRC, will run during that time as well. Get full details here. Signs about the temporary shuttle bus line are being posted at all OBRC metro area redemption locations, including the emergency return at NW Yeon and at popular BottleDrops such as the Delta Park and Glisan redemption centers. Flyers are also being distributed to community partners like Ground Score that provide resources for those who are houseless. 
  • TriMet shared video on our Facebook page this week showing the view from a MAX Yellow Line train that traveled south from Expo Center into Downtown Portland, where it became an Orange Line train on 5th Avenue. The video shows eerily empty streets during mid-morning on a weekday. (We captured the video on Thursday, April 23 starting at 10:10 a.m.)
  • A benefit of the empty streets while people follow the Gov. Brown’s stay home order: TriMet buses are dealing with very little traffic, increasing the on-time performance of our bus system. Between March 28 and April 27, buses arrived on-time 95% of the time. That’s compared to 89% on-time over the past year. 
  • TriMet ridership remains low, nearly 70% down from the February weekly average. Riders took 584,250 trips on our fixed route buses, MAX and WES during the week of April 19. That was down 69.3% from the February weekly average of 1,901,445 trips.

We hope everyone is staying strong, staying healthy and staying home as we battle COVID-19 together.

April 24, 2020

With talk of ‘Reopening Oregon’ and non-urgent medical and dental procedures resuming May 1, people may be itching to get out and about, but TriMet joins health care experts and local leaders in saying “stay home”. The Governor’s executive order remains in place restricting travel, and TriMet encourages people to ride only if going to and from essential jobs and services. For those who must ride, TriMet strongly recommends wearing a face covering on board.

Updates:

  • TriMet hopes to help shape the Governor’s strategy for reopening the state when the time is right. TriMet Executive Director of Public Affairs Bernie Bottomly serves on the Transit Sector Reopening Strategy Group, which is a sub group of the Governor’s larger Reopening Committee. Individuals representing transit systems across the state, ODOT’s Public Transportation Department, the Amalgamated Transit Union, as well as non-profit providers such as Ride Connection, join Bottomly on the transit group.

    During an initial meeting, members heard from Dr. Dean Sidelinger, M.D., the Oregon State Health Officer, about how the state approaches policy decisions, such as physical distancing and prioritizing the distribution of masks and other equipment. Transit providers had an opportunity to ask questions and to communicate our needs to the Governor’s office. Key concerns expressed by the transit service providers included balancing physical distancing requirements with the need to provide more trips per vehicle as the economy reopens and whether customers will be required to use face coverings. Other topics included ensuring that transit operators who have shown signs of COVID-19 have access to testing as front line employees and discussion of whether transit districts might refuse service to customers who appear ill. We are awaiting next steps from the Governor’s office.
  • TriMet will add a temporary, free shuttle bus that we hope will help those already struggling financially, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The new shuttle is Line 297-NW Yeon/OBRC. It will run between the Rose Quarter Transit Center and the emergency bottle return set up by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC) at its headquarters on NW Yeon Avenue. The emergency bottle return and free shuttle service are running while grocery stores have suspended bottle returns. Get full details here.
  • With many in our community struggling financially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, TriMet’s low-income fare program may offer some relief. However, many of our partner agencies that help us enroll people who qualify for our Honored Citizen reduced fare are closed or have limited hours due to COVID-19. To continue helping people sign up for the program during this time of physical distancing, TriMet is temporarily offering virtual enrollment options for those who qualify based on income. Learn about the options and who qualifies here.
  • TriMet’s LIFT paratransit service began a new, temporary service this week – delivering groceries and other essential goods to existing riders. Many LIFT riders are among the high-risk group for COVID-19. Twenty riders have taken advantage of this special service, signing up for deliveries. One, who is visually impaired, said she felt vulnerable trying to shop for food during the pandemic. She has been using LIFT for a majority of her travel for the last nine years and found the delivery service, “offers more safety for the rider to not have to deal with travel, touching objects and possibly bringing the virus home with you.”
  • TriMet has obtained disposable masks and face coverings that we have handed out to all our frontline staff, including our operators, for their use. While we have purchased thousands of them, we also received donations from community groups and individuals who want to help us keep our staff safe. Among the donations, a parents’ group affiliated with the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) donated 1,700 disposable masks to TriMet after learning that the daughter of one of our Public Affairs staff had contracted COVID-19. The group also donated 400 of the masks to the local hospital where the daughter is an occupational therapist. She has since recovered from the virus.

    Other donations have come from the Portland Modern Quilt Guild. Four of its members donated 200 cloth face coverings. We’ve also received face covering kits from the Lake Oswego Lions Club and raw materials from JOANN Fabrics & Crafts of Beaverton. TriMet employees and friends have volunteered to put together kits and sew the face coverings.

    A number of individuals have stopped by TriMet’s Operations Headquarters in Southeast Portland and dropped off more than 1,500 disposable masks and 700 reusable face coverings.

    “We are humbled by the support that we are receiving and thank those who have made donations,” said TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey. “People’s willingness to help us keep our operators safe, and provide protection for those who are out there day in and day out keeping our buses and trains moving and our stations and vehicles clean, reflects TriMet’s vital role in this community.”
  • TriMet continues to limit the number of riders on board buses to 10-15, for the safety of our riders and operators. While we look forward to the day when we can have more of our regular riders back on board, we are grateful to those riders who are staying home to save the seats for those who really need them. We video chatted with several regular riders who are staying home but wanted to thank our operators, cleaners and other staff who are doing their part to keep the system running for those who need it. We shared some their perspectives in a short video.

TriMet is posting updates for riders on trimet.org/health and for media on news.trimet.org under the category COVID-19.

April 20, 2020

TriMet joins health care experts in encouraging our riders to keep up their efforts against COVID-19. Staying home not only saves the seats for the essential workers, it helps our operators by reducing the number of people with whom they interact.

Updates:

  • The TriMet Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, will take place electronically. Those who wish to testify in the public forum can register here on Wednesday morning between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. Testimony can also be sent in writing to BoardTestimony@trimet.org. Testimony received by 12 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, will be provided to the Board of Directors in advance of the meeting. We’ve posted details online at trimet.org/meetings/board.
  • TriMet has received more than 12,000 disposable facemasks in the last few days for our operators and frontline staff. We are getting those out to all our operators. The agency is still trying to build up our supply of reusable, washable cloth face coverings, including organizing employee volunteers to help make the masks. While the community has seen shortages of hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, we are now hearing about shortages in some materials to make face coverings, particularly elastic and the small metal pieces to fit face coverings around the nose. 
  • TriMet continues to encourage riders to use face coverings, maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from others – including the operator, cover coughs and sneezes and follow CDC recommendations, as well as Oregon Governor Brown’s stay at home order.
  • TriMet ridership dipped a bit more last week, the week of April 12. Trips were down nearly 70% from the February 2020 weekly average. Last week, riders took 590,501 trips. That’s compared to 602,989 the previous week and down from 1,901,445 trips a week in February. View ridership information at https://trimet.org/about/performance. You’ll remember TriMet adjusted our service on April 5.

TriMet continues to limit the number of riders on board buses to 10-15, for the safety of our riders and operators. We are monitoring when buses are at capacity and making adjustments on lines if we consistently see buses reach the limit. Riders should plan extra time in case they cannot get on the first bus that arrives.

TriMet is posting updates for riders on trimet.org/health and for media on news.trimet.org under the category COVID-19.

April 17, 2020

Thank you to all who shared the word about the ‘Sound the Horn’ campaign and had kind words for TriMet operators and our other front line staff! The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken all of us and you can just imagine the concern of those who come face to face with others during this time. While TriMet has taken steps to protect operators and riders, we understand the anxiety of continuing to work and move people during the biggest crisis of modern day.

Updates:

  • TriMet’s LIFT paratransit service is reserved for the most vulnerable riders in our community – those who cannot use regular buses and trains due to a disabling medical condition or disability. Many are among the high-risk group for COVID-19, and they are staying home. (UPDATE: LIFT ridership is down 85%.) TriMet wants to help them do that and save lives during the pandemic. Starting Monday, April 20, our LIFT service will begin offering grocery pickup and delivery for our paratransit customers. The new, free service will encourage physical distancing and make it possible for our riders to stay safe, while getting the essential items they need. Learn more in this news feed post.
  • TriMet has distributed, and will continue providing, masks and face coverings to our operators and other employees. We have received new shipments of disposable masks and hope to get hundreds of thousands more in the coming week. We also expect to receive 11,000 reusable, washable cloth face coverings by Monday. We will have those laundered and then we’ll hand them out to our operators and other employees for continuing use.
  • We are also continuing efforts to encourage riders to use face coverings as well. We are sharing messages and images on TriMet’s social media pages as well as the digital information displays at rail stations, transit centers and some bus stops.
  • TriMet’s Maintenance and Facilities teams have stepped up the agency’s approach to cleaning during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now sharing some new video of our enhanced cleaning efforts. In addition to the ongoing work disinfecting our buses and trains once they are out of service for the day, service workers visit MAX stations throughout the day to wipe down and disinfect the surfaces riders touch. Using disinfectant wipes and spray, these service workers wipe down everything from Hop validators to pay phones, benches, railings, elevators and more. In one day, the service workers can disinfect all of our 96 rail stations—sometimes twice. TriMet has added service workers at the end on of some MAX lines to disinfect and clean our MAX trains during the day when the operator is on a break. The service workers move through the trains while they’re parked, wiping down surfaces that people often touch.

As we stay apart to work together in the fight against COVID-19, I share this statement from TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey: “Here in Portland, we say TriMet is ‘How Life Moves’. Our operators, supervisors, and other front line staff are our heroes, out there day in and day out serving other heroes during this world-altering time in our history. They have kept our community moving during the biggest crisis of modern day, getting doctors and nurses to hospitals, and other essential workers to their jobs. I’m proud of their dedication and thank them and their counterparts around the country for their courage and commitment.”

April 14, 2020

Those of us at TriMet are encouraged to see signs that COVID-19 precautions appear to be working in our area. However, to keep cases low and protect the health of our riders, operators and other employees, we join health experts as well as state and local leaders in encouraging people to stay home and hold the line in the fight against the virus.

Updates:

Volunteer Jess Yelley sewed masks for TriMet operators and frontline staff using a Lion’s Club donated kit. Thank you Jess!
  • TriMet has received more than 10,000 disposable masks and face coverings that we are getting out to our frontline staff, including operators. We also have received donations of reusable, washable cloth masks that will be used to protect our employees. We thank the Lion’s Club for donating face covering kits and individuals who have made cloth masks for our operators, including some of their TriMet co-workers. We also appreciate the disposable masks donated by the Oregon Chinese Coalition.
  • TriMet has also contracted with a local events planner, Cindy Thompson, who has turned her attention away from coordinating large gatherings to manufacturing face coverings. Cindy and her team are making 2,000 coverings for us as we try to maintain a constant supply for our operators and other mandatory employees who must travel for work or interact with the public.
  • Along with encouraging our operators and employees to follow the guidance of the CDC and use face coverings in public places, TriMet is also encouraging our riders to cover up their nose and mouth. We’re producing new signs for buses that recommend riders also use face coverings, while reminding them to maintain 6 feet of distance from the operator and other passengers. The signs informing riders of the limit on board buses and encouraging social distancing on board and while waiting for the bus have been put up. Our Communications team has also posted new messages about precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19 on TriMet’s social media channels, on our digital displays and at trimet.org/health.
  • TriMet is speeding up our installation of operator safety panels due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Half of our buses already have the safety glass enclosure next to the operator’s seat, which is mainly to protect operators from potential assaults. We’ve now learned that the panels can also protect against viruses that can spread through coughing and sneezing. We are prioritizing use of the buses that currently have the safety panels on lines that are seeing higher ridership than others are right now. One of those is the Line 72-Killingsworth/82nd.

    In March, TriMet authorized $2.7 million to retrofit the rest of our bus fleet with these panels as an added safety measure against COVID-19. We expect to have safety panels on all our buses by the end of July.
  • TriMet ridership dipped more last week. The number of trips provided for the week of April 5 were down 68% from the February weekly average. TriMet did adjust our service on April 5. While the February weekly average was more than 1.9 million trips across TriMet fixed-route buses, MAX Light Rail and WES Commuter Rail, the number of rides last week was 602,280. That’s an indication that people are following the direction of the Governor and health experts. We look forward to seeing our riders again, but appreciate those who are staying home and not riding unless they absolutely must.
  • Google has been doing a Doodle series to recognize and honor many of those essential workers on the frontlines. Today, Google’s search page features an animation of a bus with the caption, “To all public transportation workers, thank you.” I’ve attached a gif of the animation that can be found at https://www.google.com/.

TriMet joins Google in thanking our operators, frontline staff and all the TriMet employees whose work is so vital to keep our service rolling for our community’s essential workers and those who must ride right now.

April 10, 2020

Despite our buses and trains being emptier than they’ve ever been, TriMet’s service has never been more important. We continue to move the heroes of the region as essential workers of all kinds are doing their part in the fight against COVID-19. We appreciate everyone who is avoiding nonessential trips on TriMet, and those who have shown support for our operators and front-line staff.

Updates:

  • TriMet has elevated our cleaning procedures to protect the health of our employees and riders. To sustain these efforts, we are hiring 30 new service workers for our Bus Management, Rail Equipment Maintenance and Facilities Management divisions. The jobs are posted on trimet.org/careers, and will be permanent hires. They will help maintain our current cleaning efforts, allow us to be flexible in this ever-changing situation and ultimately, move us toward consistent long-term cleaning goals.
  • TriMet’s on-street customer service team has a new mission these days, helping deliver food to children, families and seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic. These caring employees normally are out on the system, helping customers get where they need to go using a personal touch. But physical distancing requirements make it impossible to do that right now. Rather than furloughing the team, the seven employees are putting their compassion to work for Meals on Wheels People. While Meals on Wheels relies largely on unpaid volunteers, TriMet will continue to pay the on-street team their hourly wage while they’re helping the nonprofit. Learn more and see video of team members helping out.
  • TriMet encourages people to continue heeding the direction of Governor Kate Brown and regional health officers to avoid unnecessary travel, especially on transit. Save the seats for those who need them.
  • We are nearly a week into the adjustments that reduced service across all TriMet service modes. The service reductions are the agency’s first since September 2012 when service cuts, a fare increase and the elimination of the Free Rail Zone were done to fill a $12 million shortfall. Our Transportation management is monitoring the service reductions along with the limit on the number of riders on buses for physical distancing. At times, we have sent out extra service buses, when buses were at the limit. We appreciate our riders understanding and patience as we work to provide transit service that is safe for all.
  • TriMet has a number of major capital improvements in either planning or construction phases that continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some updates:

    • Division Transit Project construction is back underway after a two-week break. General contractor Raimore Construction used the time to develop a safety plan for work during the pandemic. The plan sets standards for universal safety precautions for employees, crew members, subcontractors, site vendors, pedestrians and bicyclists near construction zones. It includes additional equipment cleaning procedures, enhanced requirements for using PPE and strict guidelines for determining fit-to-work and return-to-work status for any of its employees should they be exposed to the virus.

    • Construction of the Gideon safety overcrossing project resumed this week with the installation of the stair columns on the south side of the bridge. There was no work scheduled for the past few weeks. Next week, crews will install stair columns on the north side. The project is scheduled to wrap up later this year with the bridge opening in fall.

    • The Southwest Corridor Light Rail Project team continues to work on designing the new light rail line and the extensive road, pedestrian and bicycle improvements that will come with it. The project is moving toward 30% design and publication of a Final Environmental Impact Statement this fall.

This update as well as others related to the COVID-19 pandemic will be posted at news.trimet.org under the COVID-19 category. Riders and the public can also continue to get updates at trimet.org/health.

April 7, 2020

TriMet continues to provide transit service during these challenging times and encourages those who must ride to be kind to each other and our operators. With reductions to service and limits on the number of riders on board buses, please save the seats for those who need them. Health care workers and other essential workers cannot stay home. Others rely on transit to get to stores and pharmacies and take care of loved ones. Please leave the room for those who must travel using transit right now.

Updates:

  • TriMet has a new tool to help keep our bus operators and riders healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve added nine portable decontamination devices to our regular cleaning routine. The devices are roughly the size of a small cooler and evenly spray a fine mist of a hydrogen peroxide-based solution throughout a bus’s interior. It takes approximately 45 minutes to fog the interior of a bus, followed by a two-hour period where the bus sits with the doors closed. These will supplement our nightly disinfecting of buses. Get more information here and download video of a fogger in operation here.
  • TriMet continues to supply face coverings for our operators while we await a donation of reusable cloth coverings from Multnomah County. The agency is offering these non-medical masks to operators and field staff who decide to use them. We’re also encouraging riders to consider face coverings based on the new CDC recommendations.
  • TriMet’s temporary service reductions went into place on Sunday, April 5. Most bus lines and WES Commuter Rail are running less often. No extra MAX trains are running during the morning and afternoon commutes. The new schedules are now posted at trimet.org/schedules.
  • Signs now mark off seats on buses and trains to give riders visual cues on where to sit to space themselves 6 feet from others. This also helps bus operators gauge when a bus may be at or near the 10-to-15-person capacity on buses. Please note that the temporary limit is also in place on shuttle buses, if they are in service.  
  • TriMet’s is actively monitoring both the reduction in service and how often buses get full. We may add service on lines if we consistently see buses at capacity. Riders should plan extra time in case they cannot get on the first bus that arrives. Also, with the Governor’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” order, please only use TriMet for essential trips.
  • TriMet has adjusted our reporting of weekly ridership information, which will now be available on our website at trimet.org/about/performance on Mondays for the previous week. Ridership continued to slip downward last week, the week of March 29. It was down 64.6% from the February weekly average. Riders took 673,504 trips last week on our buses, MAX trains and WES trains. That’s down more than 25,000 trips from the previous week.
  • TriMet’s Rider Support call center is now open daily between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. This gives riders the opportunity to call 503-238-RIDE (7433) until 7:30 p.m. for the first time ever. Previously the call center closed at 5:30 p.m. Rider Support team members will respond to texts to 503-238-7433 and tweets to @trimethelp between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.
  • Riders and the public can stay informed about TriMet’s operations during the COVID-19 pandemic through a number of channels. We continue to post updates at trimet.org/health. Updates sent to media are now also posted at news.trimet.org under the COVID-19 category. We also encourage riders to sign up for emails at trimet.org/email.

We appreciate the media’s help sharing information about TriMet and our operations. We ask for your continued help urging people to not ride TriMet buses and trains, unless absolutely necessary. As many people have been staying at home for weeks now, we understand the “cabin fever” feeling, but it’s important that people stay apart as we work together to stop this virus.

April 3, 2020

TriMet has begun providing our operators with face coverings as an added precaution during the COVID-19 outbreak, to keep both them and riders safe. While a shortage of medical masks and personal protection equipment, or PPE, has been widely reported, TriMet has now received donated face coverings for our frontline staff that are not medical-grade. We will be giving them to our operators and other staff who interact with the public, as calls for more widespread use of non-medical masks in public places increase based on recent remarks by the U.S. Surgeon General and the White House health advisor.

TriMet had been attempting to purchase masks for weeks, but due to the worldwide shortage, and supplies understandably going first to doctors and nurses helping sick patients, we saw our orders canceled or go unfilled. We now have a limited supply of donated disposable face coverings, but we have been promised a supply of washable cloth coverings from Multnomah County in the coming days. We will also pursue other homemade face coverings to keep our operators and staff supplied. Due to the initial short supply, the disposable face coverings will first go to operators based on medical conditions, age and their level of interaction with the public. This means operators on high ridership lines or on lines that serve hospitals and health care centers will get them first.

Some TriMet employees, including maintenance workers and those who must use chemicals as part of their jobs, have been using N95 respirators as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but now TriMet workers who interact with the public will get other types of face coverings for their use. The coverings do not reduce the need for employees and riders to socially distance from others, stay home if sick or if travel is not essential and follow other standard precautions such as frequent hand washing.

TriMet operators and the staff who support them are playing a vital role in our community’s response to COVID-19, along with first responders, health care workers and essential employees. We’ll continue to explore all possible options for minimizing risks to our staff, so we can continue to serve those who serve us.

Follow updates at trimet.org/health.

April 2,2020

TriMet will make additional changes to promote social distancing on board our transit vehicles for the safety of our riders and operators. Our operators, and the staff who support them, have kept our buses and trains moving while much of the rest of the world has stopped during this challenging time.

  • TriMet will limit the number of riders on buses beginning at 5 p.m. on April 2. No more than 10-15 riders can be on a bus at one time — 10 individuals, or up to 15 if people are riding together (such as couples or parents with children). This is a temporary adjustment to further help those who must ride during this time maintain social distance from each other. By keeping the amount of riders on board low enough, they will be able to space themselves out from others and the operator.

    If there appears to be more than 10 to 15 people on board, the bus operator will ask riders at a stop to wait for the next bus. Signs will be posted at some of our busier bus stops letting riders know about the limit and we’ll be alerting riders via service alert channels and social media. Riders are encouraged to plan extra time for trips in case they need to wait. The operator will alert TriMet’s Operations Control Center if the bus is at capacity. TriMet staff will monitor how bus lines are operating and may make adjustments if we see long wait times. Even though the number of riders on buses must be limited at this time, TriMet will continue to operate service that is equitable, unbiased and safe.

    We appreciate our riders’ patience and understanding as we try to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep everyone healthy. In addition, once again, TriMet asks those who don’t have an urgent need to ride at this time, to leave the seats for those who do. 
  • TriMet is placing signs on seats in buses and trains to encourage social distancing. The signs that say “Don’t sit here” are an effort to help riders find seats that separate them from where others are sitting, and from the operator on a bus, by at least 6 feet.
  • The signs marking off seats to leave empty is just one of the visible efforts on board encouraging social distancing. We’ve placed signs on buses reminding riders to space themselves out from others and the operator by 6 feet, only use the priority seating if necessary and exit through the back door of the bus. We’ve also moved the yellow line that riders should stand behind back so it is 6 feet from the operator. Signs being posted on MAX and WES trains also encourage riders to keep 6 feet of distance from others.
  • Ridership dropped more last week, the week of March 23, following the Governor’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” announcement. Weekly ridership was down more than 63% from the February weekly average. Riders took 698,664 trips on TriMet buses, MAX and WES last week. 
  • Additional efforts to keep those who must ride right now and operators safe include:
    • Nightly disinfecting of buses, MAX trains, WES trains and LIFT paratransit vehicles
    • Daily disinfecting of main touchpoints at rail stations and transit centers.
    • As possible based on staffing, disinfecting main touchpoints on some MAX trains throughout the day.
    • Temporarily suspending cash payments on buses
    • Activating TriMet’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for elevated agency-wide coordination during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • TriMet’s temporary service reductions go into effect Sunday, April 5. The schedule adjustments allow us to keep service across our tri-county service district while preserving safety. With dropping ridership, we do expect to be able to maintain space on board for social distancing, but we will monitor in case we need to adjust service. TriMet is seeing a decrease in the number of operators who are available with many out on leave, whether due to children at home with schools closed, taking leave for illness or self-quarantine, being among the high-risk group for COVID-19 or other reasons.

TriMet recognizes that these changes and restrictions may make it more difficult for those who must ride at this time. However, these steps will help our community get through this challenge, so TriMet can get back to serving all our riders as soon as possible. Follow updates at trimet.org/health.

March 27, 2020

TriMet to adjust schedules, preserve safety and service, as community responds to COVID-19

TriMet service will continue during the unprecedented challenges facing the world and our community to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, beginning April 5, TriMet will adjust schedules to reflect the reality of dropping ridership, while preserving safety and service coverage across the tri-county area. Learn about the service adjustments and updates on TriMet operations.

March 23, 2020

As Governor Brown has ordered Oregonians to stay home and minimize travel in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, TriMet is asking people to please only take transit if necessary. By avoiding unnecessary trips, people help make space for the medical staff, first responders and other essential staff that serve the community and count on TriMet to get where they need to go. Those who must ride during this time should maintain six feet of distance from other riders and the operator. We appreciate everyone’s help, as it takes all of us to flatten the curve and save lives.

  • TriMet will continue to run, as public transit is considered an essential service, even during a time of crisis. As more restrictions are placed on the daily lives of those in our area and more people follow the stay-at-home direction, we will continue to see fewer and fewer riders using TriMet’s buses and trains. However, there are nurses and doctors, social service workers, child care workers, grocery store employees, first responders, transit employees and others who remain in critical jobs. Many of those rely on transit to get them where they need to go to help people, protect our community and keep the essential services of the community going.
  • Ridership is projected to be down by more than 45% last week (over February average) and the Governor’s stay-at-home order will decrease ridership even more.
  • While TriMet has been able to maintain service levels, we are making plans to reduce service that we expect to announce later this week. Riders should always check trimet.org/alerts before they head out. We are also posting updates at trimet.org/health.
  • The Governor’s stay-at-home order increases the guidelines for social distancing, now saying you need to maintain 6 feet of distance. That does make riding transit more challenging. We are encouraging riders to create that 6 feet of space with others.

We appreciate our operators, field staff and the other essential employees who continue to keep our buses and trains rolling. Their efforts help others who must ride during this unprecedented time.

As directed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), mass transit is a critical infrastructure function and mass transit workers are considered essential critical infrastructure workers.

March 20, 2020

TriMet knows this is an anxious time for people, with so many in our community making hard sacrifices right now. Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by the virus, directly and indirectly, and those who continue to serve and help others as everyone does their part during this unprecedented moment in our lives.

We continue to work closely with regional health experts and leaders, and we continue to urge riders and employees to follow their guidance and recommendations to keep themselves and their families healthy and safe.

  • TriMet continues to provide service to those in our community who must still travel during this time to help others and keep our community working. Riders should always check trimet.org/alerts before they head out. We are also posting updates at trimet.org/health.
  • While TriMet will not have ridership statistics for this week compiled for release until next week, we were able to get a snapshot of how many people did not ride Wednesday, March 18, compared to the average number of weekday riders in February 2020. See our Facebook post. We appreciate that riders are following the directions of the health experts, with about 140,000 riders staying home or using a different mode of travel on Wednesday.  
  • TriMet thanks those who must ride for following the direction of health experts and using social distancing to protect themselves and others. At a Thursday news conference, Regional Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines addressed social distancing on transit and the need for people to stay home and avoid any mode of travel.

    Dr. Jennifer Vines, regional health officer: “I have had direct conversations with leadership at TriMet. They are committed to doing the right thing, keeping their workers safe and keeping the public safe. When we did the mass gathering ban and subsequently closed schools, we know that their ridership went way down. So, our understanding is that buses and MAX trains are much less crowded. We’ve also emphasized that buses and MAXes have doors opening and closing frequently which creates for good airflow. And again we’re encouraging everybody to stay home if you’re sick. And again today we’re saying please avoid anything that is not essential. You really should not be out and about.”

    In regards to social distancing: TriMet encourages riders to remember to give operators space as well. Half of our buses have safety panels next to the operators seat, and those buses are being sent into service first. Still, we ask riders to stay behind the yellow line, limit their interaction with bus operators and use the back doors to exit the bus.
  • As mentioned previously, TriMet crews are disinfecting the touchpoints on buses, MAX and WES trains and LIFT paratransit vehicles nightly. Crews are also wiping down the main touchpoints at rail stations and transit centers daily, including Hop validators, ticket machines, pay phones, elevator doors and elevator buttons. We now have staff doing some additional light cleaning on trains moving through Downtown Portland during the weekdays, picking up litter, using sanitizing wipes in some areas and dealing with any messes or spills. This was planned before COVID-19 was reported in our area and is a pilot. For their safety, we don’t want the workers to be cleaning while a train is moving, so they may have to wait at times while a train is traveling between stops.

    Despite TriMet’s elevated level of cleaning, a surface is only clean until someone touches it or sneezes or coughs nearby. We urge riders to follow the precautions outlined by health experts including not touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands and washing hands frequently.
  • TriMet’s Lost & Found and the TriMet Ticket Office in Pioneer Courthouse Square remain open, providing important services for our riders. People are able to social distance themselves at these offices, however, we may close these services if needed. Riders should check trimet.org/health for the status.  
  • Starting April 5, 2020, TriMet will make temporary adjustments to our Rider Support customer service. TriMet Rider Support team members will now be answering phone calls to 503-238-RIDE (7433) between 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. daily. Previously the hours available were 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Rider Support team members will respond to texts to 503-238-7433 and tweets to @trimethelp between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m., rather than 24 hours a day.  
  • All TriMet employees whose presence onsite at TriMet facilities is not essential have been asked to work remotely. They may also take leave as appropriate and as outlined in our employee leave policy.
  • Due to COVID-19 guidelines, the TriMet Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday, March 25 will be held via teleconference. There will not be a public forum portion of the meeting, and we are now encouraging the public to submit testimony to BoardTestimony@trimet.org by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Testimony will be provided to the Board of Directors in advance of the meeting. The public information to listen in on the meeting is posted online at trimet.org/meetings/board.
  • Our bus and rail operators are on the front lines, helping people who use and rely on transit to get where they need to go. At no time is their role more important than during a crisis. Today, as our region faces a health crisis, our operators have been essential in helping those who must travel get where they need to go to help our community. Check out our Facebook post at and all the amazing comments from our riders, including many who must still use transit at this time.

March 17, 2020

TriMet shares the same concerns being felt throughout the region, the country and the world about the spread of COVID-19. Our hearts go out to all those whose lives have been touched by this fast-spreading virus.

TriMet is working to provide necessary service to those who need to travel right now while encouraging the advice of health experts as we all try to make our way through this unprecedented situation.

  • TriMet has not made any changes to our transit service as we help move health care workers, social service workers, our own transit staff, first responders and others who must travel during this time so they can help keep people safe and healthy and keep our community going. However, we may need to adjust service due to any new direction from health authorities and government leaders or due to staffing levels. Riders should always check trimet.org/alerts before they head out. We are also posting updates at trimet.org/health.
  • In addition to nightly disinfecting of our buses and trains, TriMet crews are also wiping down the main touchpoints at rail stations and transit centers daily, including Hop validators, ticket machines, pay phones, elevator doors and elevator buttons. But, as we have stressed for weeks now, a surface is only clean until someone touches it or sneezes and/or coughs nearby. TriMet continues to encourage all our riders and our employees to do what they need to keep themselves and their families safe, and to follow the directions and recommendations of health experts, local leaders and the Governor.
  • We do have an indication that people are following the directions to social distance themselves from others. As the Oregon Health Authority announced last week, riders should space themselves out by at least 3 feet. Anecdotally, we have been seeing riders separating themselves from others on our buses and trains. A drop in ridership is giving people more room on board to space out. Trips taken on our buses, MAX trains and WES trains dropped 10% last week following a 5% drop the week before.
  • TriMet’s March 25, 2020, Board of Directors meeting will be held virtually to adhere to the Governor’s directives on mass gatherings and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. A listen-only phone number will be provided at trimet.org/meetings/board closer to next Wednesday’s meeting. A public forum will not be held but the public can email in written testimony to boardtestimony@trimet.org or mailed to:
    Board Testimony – EX
    TriMet, 1800 SW 1st Ave – Suite 300, Portland, OR 97201

We want to thank our frontline staff – our operators and supervisors – our maintenance staff and all the other employees who work hard to keep our buses and trains rolling and provide a safe system for our operators and those who are riding at this time.

March 12, 2020

TriMet shares the concern of Oregon Governor Brown, the health authorities, local leaders and our community as COVID-19 continues to spread. We echo Governor Brown’s words that we all must work together to slow this virus and take care of one another.

Like all Oregonians, those of us at TriMet are working to determine what the Governor’s directives mean to our agency and the services we provide to the community, especially those who depend on us to get to work and social services.

TriMet has and will continue to encourage riders to follow the direction of the CDC, OHA and local health authorities. We are seeking more information from the health experts, specifically about social distancing. Anyone who has ever been on a full bus or train knows that staying three to six feet away from others may not be possible.

As we announced last week, TriMet crews are cleaning the main surfaces on our buses and trains that people touch with their hands. This is being done each night, as an extra level of precaution, on all our vehicles: TriMet buses, MAX trains, WES trains and LIFT paratransit vehicles. However, Dr. Jennifer Vines, the lead health officer for the tri-county region, has directed TriMet staff to continue reminding transit riders that they must still protect themselves by not touching their face with unwashed hands and washing their hands frequently. As such, TriMet will periodically share the CDC tips for prevention with our riders and stress that a surface is only clean until someone touches it, sneezes on it or coughs on it.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tips:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a sleeve, or a tissue. If you use a tissue, please discard of it in a trash can.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

We urge riders who are sick to please consider others and not ride public transit.

TriMet wants all our riders and our employees to be safe. We encourage those who use our service to visit cdc.gov, Oregon.gov/OHA and multco.us/health to determine what other precautions they should take and whether they should travel in public or not. We also have set up a special web page where we will post updates for our riders: trimet.org/health.

With the suspension of the Portland Trail Blazers and Portland Timbers seasons, Portland State University and other schools moving to remote learning, and many organizations directing employees to telecommute, we will see a big drop in ridership. It is important to note that while the revenue TriMet earns from fares covers more than $124 million in current annual operating costs, or 17% of our operating expenses, TriMet’s concern at this time is the health and wellbeing of our riders, our employees and our community as a whole. TriMet knows our transit service is vital, that so many people depend on it to get to social services, work, family and friends and other important destinations. We take that responsibility very seriously. TriMet staff will continue working closely with health authorities as well as other local and state agencies to determine appropriate direction for our riders and employees.

March 11, 2020

Like all of you, those of us at TriMet are very concerned about the events unfolding around the world and here at home concerning COVID-19. TriMet is working closely with local, state and national health agencies as well as city, county and other local leaders. We are getting up-to-the-minute updates and direction on necessary steps to take to protect all of us, as the safety of our riders and our employees is our priority.

There is much uncertainty about COVID-19, but one thing is certain, preventing the spread will take all of us.

In addition to our regular cleaning procedures, which vary in detail, TriMet has increased the cleaning of our buses and trains as an extra level of precaution. Our maintenance teams are now cleaning all touchpoint surfaces nightly, wiping them down with a disinfectant. This includes the poles, doors and other surfaces people will touch or hold on to as the vehicles move.

Despite the cleaning steps we are taking, it’s important to remember that a surface is only clean until someone touches it, sneezes on it or coughs on it. That’s why we at TriMet continue to urge riders to take precautions to keep themselves and others healthy.

Please follow these tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a sleeve, or a tissue. If you use a tissue, please discard of it in a trash can.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

We understand that some riders are dependent on transit and may have no other way to get to the doctor or hospital if they are sick. We urge them to please call their doctor first before using transit as they may be able to get health without traveling.