(VIDEO) TriMet doubles down on deep cleaning as widespread system upgrades continue


Transit centers, rail stations and vehicles are focus of efforts to improve cleanliness, safety and the overall riding experience

Equipped with grabber claws and bright orange buckets, members of TriMet’s specially trained “Clean Team” receive the ‘all clear’ from their lookout to start walking the tracks when MAX trains have passed. Once on the tracks, they use the claws to scrape, pry and pluck away trash, filling their buckets with enough debris to make a significant dent in litter.

Each month, they collect roughly 1,200 pounds of trash across our transit system, the equivalent in weight to an adult female polar bear. Considering most of this waste is made up of scraps–empty cups, wrappers and cigarette butts–it’s a big haul. It’s also just one part of a larger initiative to spruce up our system through enhanced cleaning, with a growing, multi-team effort that TriMet spearheaded in late 2023 to improve the system’s overall look and feel. 

The Clean Team is made up of employees from TriMet’s Facilities and Maintenance of Way departments, along with contractors specializing in painting and other repair work. 

A new bus shelter at Gateway Transit Center, installed fall of 2023.

Six months after getting started, more than 100 internal employees along with contractors are now dedicated to the effort, which spans everything from deep cleaning stations, to removing and replacing bus shelters, to repainting stations and installing new signs everywhere we can.

It’s more than picking up trash—it’s a comprehensive series of upgrades to make the experience better for our riders. Altogether, the continuous work serves a dual purpose: In the short term, it addresses the use that our system sees from more than 1.3 million trips per week. But in the long term, it sends the message that litter, tagging and damaged amenities are not tolerated and will be addressed quickly. 

Clean Team 

At the Providence Park MAX Station, a pressure washer is blasting away dirt and bird droppings. It’s something you might see elsewhere in the system right now, in part as a preemptive measure to maintain safety and cleanliness.

Pressure washing has become one of TriMet’s priorities in 2024. After all, the cleaner a station is, the more inviting it is. With more than 90 stations in the MAX light rail system, some receive extra attention due to higher ridership and the number of pigeons they attract.

Compared to two years ago, TriMet has more than doubled the number of times we have cleaned stations in the first quarter of 2024. We are already on track to wash and scrub stations more than 2,100 times this year!

Station Pressure Washing
Year# of treatments
2024 (1st quarter)531

Compared to two years ago, TriMet has more than doubled the number of times we have cleaned stations in the first quarter of 2024. We are already on track to wash and scrub stations more than 2,100 times this year!

The emphasis on stations will be expanded starting this summer. Crews will start rehabilitating every MAX station, spending about one month per station improving the tactile strips, repainting shelters and performing other upgrades. This comes on top of the bus shelters we have already replaced throughout the system.

Preventing damage

TriMet’s Clean Team is also working to prevent concrete from buckling, making it safer to walk by protecting stations and sidewalks from cracks that could create hazards. Often, this results from roots damaging concrete as trees grow.

Crews have started replacing the metal grates around trees, which can become tripping hazards when heaved up. They’re using a softer material that, unlike concrete, allows the trees to receive water but prevents roots from breaking through the surface. For empty tree wells, where trees have already been removed, crews have filled them with concrete to create a flat surface. It also makes them look better.

Making it cleaner and safer

Cleanliness and safety go hand-in-hand. Our riders thrive when they see a transit system that feels comfortable and inviting. TriMet’s enhanced cleaning comes as we also continue building out a comprehensive series of safety and security initiatives. 

Since 2022, TriMet has more than doubled the number of safety and security personnel we have on the system. That number will continue to grow in the months ahead, with TriMet’s 2025 approved budget quadrupling the safety and security budget compared to where it was in 2022.

In addition to having more safety and security personnel out on our system, our Clean Team and other field staff provide an extra presence. Among them are end-of-the-line cleaners. They are stationed at key transit Centers and MAX stations to take care of spills and trash during parts of the service day. They help make sure vehicles remain welcoming while in active service.

You, too, can do your part to help our Clean Team and take pride in the system.

  • Use trash cans at stations and on board vehicles.
  • Don’t feed the pigeons.
  • Report unwanted or inappropriate behavior.

To report a non-urgent concern directly to TriMet Security 24 hours a day, text or call 503-238-7433 (RIDE), or submit a report online. And for more information about TriMet’s security initiatives, go to trimet.org/security.