Category Archives: Rider News

Sneak peek: ticket printers on buses coming this summer

Posted by Dave Whipple in Rider News, Service Updates on .

We’re installing new ticket printers on buses to make transfers more consistent for riders and easier for operators. Testing will begin on lines 17 and 70 in mid-March, and the printers will be up and running on all buses later this summer.

We’re improving the way we issue bus transfers, so that they’re more consistent and predictable for riders, and easier for operators.

You may have already seen the new ticket printers mounted near the farebox on some of our buses. (See photo at right.) We’re gradually installing them on the fleet, and testing will begin on lines 17 and 70 in mid-March.

Soon, instead of manually punching and tearing a newsprint receipt, your operator will be able to instantly print out a 2-Hour Ticket or 1-Day Pass simply by pressing a button on the console.

This will take the mystery out of getting a bus transfer, as all single-ride transfers will be valid for exactly 2 hours from the time of purchase, just like MAX and WES tickets.

The easy-to-read tickets will look like other TriMet tickets, with a foil security strip and the expiration time.

spacer The existing transfer system requires the operator to manually adjust a “cutter bar” to change the expiration time for transfers, and punch each one with the ticket type and day code. The time given varies depending on the day of the week and where you boarded in relation to the end of the route. The new ticket printers will simplify and speed up this process, and make all transfers consistent.

Stay tuned for details about the ticket printers and when you can expect to see them in action. Even better, sign up to get updates by email.

Questions? Feedback? Let us know what you think. Contact us at or call 503-238-RIDE (7433).

When will TriMet be able to restore (and increase) service?

Posted by Neil McFarlane in From the GM, Hot Topics, Rider News on .

A message from Neil McFarlane, TriMet General Manager


TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane

Dear riders,

Many of you have asked when TriMet is going to be able to restore the service that was cut over the last few years. I know first-hand that buses and trains are crowded, and for some of us, it’s a long wait for the next one.

On Wednesday, I made a presentation to our Board of Directors about the state of TriMet’s budget and what we can expect in the years ahead. I wanted to share with you what I told them.

First, the good news: We don’t anticipate any more service cuts or fare increases—except for a scheduled LIFT paratransit fare increase—in the next fiscal year (through June 2014).

That’s assuming that the Oregon Employment Relations Board upholds our latest labor contract with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 (ATU), which the union has challenged. I’m optimistic, but be aware that it could mean additional service cuts if the ATU prevails.

The bad news: An even bigger budget crisis is on the horizon. Looking out a few years, we are projecting a $15-17 million budget shortfall in 2017, increasing annually to $195-$200 million in 2030. The main reason is the rising cost of health care benefits for our union employees and retirees. Retiree benefits, for example, are growing at compound annual rates of 15-18 percent per year.

In fact, without a change to our labor contract, employee health care costs will consume nearly half of TriMet’s operating revenue from payroll taxes by 2020.

Our job is to keep the Portland area moving. TriMet and the ATU have a responsibility to bring these costs under control so that we can restore—and eventually grow—transit service to meet the rising demand.

Of course, that’s not sustainable. The more we pay in health care, the less service we can provide. Plain and simple, it’s about the math.

And we only have a brief window of time before riders will feel the effects. So, how can we fix this?

As we begin negotiations for a new labor contract, we have proposed solutions to the ATU leadership that will help rein in these costs. Our proposal would bring health care costs down while maintaining a fair and competitive benefit package that is more in line with that of other public employees.

To be clear, I believe our hard-working employees deserve quality health care. We’re simply proposing that ATU employees receive the same level of health care benefits that I and other non-union staff receive—which, while not as rich as the union’s current plan, is still a very good benefit package by any measure.

As I’ve said before, TriMet is a transit agency, not a health care provider. Our job is to keep the Portland area moving. TriMet and the ATU have a responsibility to bring these costs under control so that we can restore—and eventually grow—transit service to meet the rising demand. It will take some time to get there, but, working together, I’m confident that we will get there.

Thank you for your continued support, and thanks for riding.


RELATED: Read Neil McFarlane’s “Hot Seat” interview with Willamette Week, February 13, 2013 

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It all started on the bus…

Posted by Marisa Scheidegger in In the Community, Rider News on .

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks took a critical step toward bus desegregation on December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, when she chose to be arrested rather than give up her bus seat to a white man while riding a segregated bus. Her stand against racism inspired a boycott which has improved all our lives.

TriMet strives to provide equitable service, placing a high priority on providing high-quality transit service to low-income populations and communities of color. Rosa Parks’ courageous act drew national attention to simple truths: A public transit system paid for by all must benefit all, and civil rights must be protected for all.

This year TriMet was named by the National Association Minority Contractors of Oregon (NAMCO) as Champion and Agency of the Year for our support of local minority construction and contracting businesses. Our Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program is a national model for encouraging and supporting businesses owned by people of color and women when competing for contracts on transit construction projects.

For more information about our nationally recognized diversity programs, please visit

We’ve added to our team: more fare enforcers and a K-9 police unit

Posted by Marisa Scheidegger in Rider News on .

Checking for fare

Six new fare enforcers have been added to our team, joining two others hired earlier this year, which brings the fare enforcement team to the full-time equivalent of 26. “We are always vigilant, looking for how we can improve security and increase the safety for our riders and operators,” said TriMet Safety and Security Executive Harry Saporta.

In July 2011, we shifted our focus from education to enforcement. That means riders caught without a fare will now get a citation instead of a warningeven first offenders. Inspectors no longer issue warnings. They will issue citations and exclusions (meaning the rider is prohibited from using the system for up to 90 days). The base fine for not having a valid fare is $175, but fines may go as high as $250.


From left to right: Sgt. James Simms and Rexo, Ofc. Chad Stoner and Snoopy, Ofc. John Blair and Mike, Ofc. Michael Kuenzli and Ice

In addition to adding fare enforcers, a new K-9 team has joined the TriMet Transit Police Division. Officer Chad Stoner and his canine counterpart Snoopy recently completed 10 weeks of training and received their certification from the Department of Homeland Security. Chad is a member of the Portland Police Bureau and Snoopy is a 2-year-old black Labrador retriever. We received a grant from the Transportation Security Administration to add this K-9 unit to our security team. This brings the Transit Police Division to 62 full-time officers.

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Make it a priority to “be seen” when you’re out this fall and winter

Posted by Harry Saporta in Rider News on .

Wear light-colored clothing and add reflective strips to your accessories. “Be seen. Be safe.”

Harry Saporta is TriMet’s safety and security executive.

It’s that time of year when Daylight Saving Time ends, and days become shorter and darker.  I encourage pedestrians and bicyclists to think about increasing visibility in low-light by dressing in light-colored clothing and accessorizing with reflective strips.

How do you improve your visibility when it’s dark? Submit a photo with your “Bright Ideas” and you could win up to $400 in prizes!

When you’re out and about this fall and winter, consider these easy tips to increase your visibility:

  1. Wear reflective outerwear. Drivers can see bicyclists and pedestrians from farther away when they shine. For example, you are first visible to a driver from 500 feet away when you are wearing reflective clothing. Compare this to just 55 feet away when wearing dark colors.
  2. Add more shine. Wear shoes, backpacks, jackets and other clothing with reflective materials. Add reflective tape and strips to your shoes, backpack, purse, bike wheel spokes, jacket sleeves, pant legs—really, anywhere and everywhere! Reflective vests and hats are great as well.
  3. Use lights freely. Before sunrise and after sunset, cyclists are legally required to have a red reflector or light on the back and a white light on the front. Invest in the brightest lights you can afford. But don’t stop there: Headlights, armbands with lights, leg bands with blinking lights, small blinking lights on your coat, purse or backpack… All of these items can  help you be seen whether you’re biking or walking.
  4. Be alert. Even if you are a sparkly beacon of light with legs, as a pedestrian, you should always use crosswalks when available and make eye contact with drivers to make sure they see you. When you’re behind the wheel, be alert and practice extra caution during winter’s rain and low light.

During my more than 31 years as a safety and security professional, I have been reminded time and time again that practicing safe behavior is a shared responsibility. Whether we’re driving, walking or biking, each of us needs to do all we can to be seen and see everyone.

How do you improve your visibility when it’s dark? Submit a photo with your “Bright Ideas” and you could win up to $400 in prizes!

Got unused 1- or 2-Zone tickets or non-foil tickets? Upgrade or exchange them by 12/31.

Posted by TriMet Staff in Rider News on .

If you have leftover tickets that look like these, or other old tickets without a shiny foil strip, be sure to use or exchange them by December 31, 2012.

In September, we raised fares and switched from a zone system to simpler “go-anywhere fares.” As a result, 1-Zone and 2-Zone tickets are no longer valid without an upgrade. And, back in May, we stopped accepting non-foil tickets (those without a shiny foil strip) on board.

These older-style tickets are being phased out. You can still exchange or upgrade your leftover tickets, but only through December 31, 2012. Don’t get stuck with tickets you can’t use!

  • 1-Zone and 2-Zone tickets: Through December 31, you can upgrade your unused 1-Zone and 2-Zone tickets to a go-anywhere (formerly All-Zone) fare for 40 cents, either on the bus or at the TriMet Ticket Office at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
  • Non-foil tickets: December 31 is also the deadline for trading in any unused non-foil tickets (older tickets without a shiny foil strip). We no longer accept them on board, but you can stop by the TriMet Ticket Office to exchange them.

Please help us spread the word! Do you know someone who might have old TriMet tickets lying around? You can share this post using the buttons below.

UPDATE: Controversial ads on the sides of buses and trains

Posted by Drew Blevins in Hot Topics, Rider News on .

Drew Blevins is TriMet’s Director of Marketing and Customer Information.

Recently I shared some information about the ad featuring the headline “Palestinian Loss of Land” that is currently posted on some TriMet vehicles. What appears to be a response ad—with the headline “In any War Between the Civilized Man and the Savage, Support the Civilized Man”—will start showing up on some TriMet vehicles this week.


These are the controversial ads you may see on the sides of TriMet buses and trains.

In the past, TriMet’s advertising policy has only allowed ads that were commercial in nature, defined by the promotion of goods or services. Non-commercial ads were not allowed, as we didn’t want to open our doors to all advertisements. A 2008 Multnomah County Circuit Court ruling concluded that our advertising policy could not limit the categories of advertising accepted. The Oregon Supreme Court is now reviewing that decision. TriMet has asked the Court to treat us like any other entrepreneurial advertising media and to allow us to make reasonable determinations as to the categories of advertising we will accept. While awaiting the Court’s decision, TriMet is in the unfortunate position of having to accept all advertising.

We acknowledge that ads like these, indeed, make things challenging for everyone. We began to permit advertising on TriMet buses and trains to create a source of revenue for the good of TriMet and our customers. While TriMet supports our constitutions and the free speech they ensure, we recognize that our purpose is to unite our communities through transit. We are disappointed that the sides of our buses and trains have become a medium for divisive discussions, and we apologize to you. We hope that when the Oregon Supreme Court decides the case that we will once again be allowed to limit advertising to commercial goods and services.

Mobile ticketing is the first step toward electronic fare collection

Posted by Neil McFarlane in From the GM, Rider News, Trip Tools on .

With TriMet’s new mobile ticketing app, iPhone and Android users will be able to buy and use fares instantly on their phone.

by Neil McFarlane, TriMet General Manager

By now, you’ve probably heard that we’re working on a convenient new mobile ticketing option for our riders using smartphones. As early as next spring, iPhone and Android users will be able to purchase and use TriMet tickets and passes using a free app on their phone.

This is one of the top requests from our riders, and for good reason. These days, about half of us own a smartphone, and more people are using them to make purchases when they’re on the go. Mobile ticketing means you no longer have to keep track of paper tickets, count exact change or wait in line at a ticket machine.

The app lets you register your debit/credit card, buy and show your fare at the touch of a button, and store fares for future use.

We’re always looking for ways to improve the “transit experience,” and I know