Overhaul (for real this time)

Picture for the sake of having a picture

Surprisingly, yesterday’s April Fools joke of a WES extravaganza took far longer to put together than I had anticipated, but taking it all down gave me the chance to make some style edits (both here and on my Twitter page) that I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Just getting tired of the old pics and theme, I guess. The WES post will stay up, but since I pretty much exhausted everything I knew and/or could find about WES in writing that, it’s unlikely there will be more WES content in the future.

There were some great transit-related April Fools jokes yesterday – Portland Transport becoming Portland Trainspot with a mission of posting photos of TriMet rail vehicles; Isaac Laquedem’s post on TriMet’s expansion of rail to the north, east, and south (best line in the post “We are optimistic that the Department of Transportation will approve our request for a 95% matching grant to finance track and station improvements, new rolling stock, public art, and two more fare inspectors”); over at the Oregonian Joseph Rose’s post on how MAX bicycle hooks are now reserved for passengers’ dry cleaning; and the one that made me laugh the most, Al M’s termination letter from TriMet.

Anyway, back in MAX-land here, you may have seen that I’ve added some new pages to the top header.

If you’ve been reading for a while, most of that content isn’t new except for the “When is the last train?” page.

I’ve noticed patterns in the things that people search for that land them here, and I want to make it as easy as possible for people to find the answers to what they’re looking for. The search function that WordPress provides (top of the right sidebar) is pretty thorough but sometimes yields an overwhelming amount of information, so I’m trying to make the setup here more approachable and easy to use by consolidating the links of posts related to those subjects into those pages. Any thoughts or suggestions of what else might make this site more user-friendly would be welcome.

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13 responses to “Overhaul (for real this time)

  1. I was just thinking, I would like to hear more about the MAX announcements and how they work. I want to know everything about them! Their so intriguing. lol. I think it’s something you haven’t talked about yet is it?

    • Sure, that’s something that I have a partially written draft of – there are actually a lot of things I start writing about but then I then get sidetracked by one thing or another and they sit unpublished for a while. I’m hoping to be able to finish a lot of them and get them posted.

  2. A few suggestions. Personally I find it distracting to read text over a background image. I think it would be easier if the area under the text was a solid color.

    The other thing I would enjoy would be syndicating the entire post through RSS, instead of just the first couple of lines. I find it easier to read posts in Google Reader.

    It would also be helpful for new readers to have a clear place to ask you questions. I doubt many people would think to ask on Twitter. You could add an open thread or set up a Formspring account. (There’s even a WordPress plugin for the later)

    Thank you so much for running this website. It’s a real treasure trove of information (if you are train nerd, at least).

    • I think it would be easier if the area under the text was a solid color.

      I’ll think about that. I personally didn’t like all the white space without having something in the background. Otherwise I like the WordPress theme I’m using. I may end up shuffling that around too, not sure.

      syndicating the entire post through RSS, instead of just the first couple of lines

      That should work now, let me know if it doesn’t.

      new readers to have a clear place to ask you questions

      I don’t plan on doing this for a few reasons. For one thing, although I like talking about the trains with people and don’t mind answering questions, I can’t do it in any official capacity since I am not a TriMet spokesperson. I don’t feel comfortable with telling people to direct their rail questions to me because I can’t be acknowledged as someone who has the authority to claim an answer is correct and official TriMet information. That’s not to say that what I post is inaccurate, but I don’t feel right making it appear like I am a resource for official TriMet information.
      The other reason is time. There are some questions people have emailed me that I haven’t had the time to get back to because sometimes other things have to take priority. I feel bad enough about that without inviting more people to send me their questions!

      Thank you so much for running this website. It’s a real treasure trove of information (if you are train nerd, at least).

      You’re welcome, and thank you for your comments. I really appreciate that!

      • RSS works now. Thanks.

        Regarding the background, you probably could have a translucent background where the the image was still slightly visible, even though the contrast was lower.

  3. I’ve got another question as well, that I don’t think you’ve covered before… but possibly… Why do the lights and HVAC system go out sometimes on MAX, I notice it seems to happen more often on the Steal Bridge and in and around pioneer square… thoughts? Also in the same line of thought as the question above, why is it so hard for the operator to know/tell when the announcements are not announcing correctly/at all?

    • I’ve answered that, but it didn’t get its own post, it was buried in the Pantographs & Overhead Wire post so it might not be easy to find. There are parts of the overhead wire that are unpowered which allows for a section of the line to be turned off without needing to shut the entire thing down. If a train draws power while going through one of those sections, you’ll see an arc if you’re outside the train and the lights/HVAC go off inside the train. You can see that happen at about 45 seconds in to this video. So it happens a lot around Pioneer Square because of where the Red/Blue wires intersect with the Yellow/Green, and on the Steel Bridge since there are section isolators up there for when the bridge needs to be lifted, or where the MAX alignment crosses the streetcar alignment.

      As for why the announcements might not be noticed, although there’s a device (the APACU, or Automatic Passenger Announcement Control Unit) in the cab that the operator uses to program the announcements, sometimes what’s displayed on that doesn’t match the readerboards (although it should, but sometimes that’s not even readable, like in this picture that another operator took). And you can’t see the readerboards from the cab, so sometimes those get stuck but the audio is fine. Sometimes the external signs get stuck which an operator might not be able to see from the cab. It doesn’t interfere with the operation of the train, but it can be very confusing for people who don’t know the area well or who have a disability, so it should be fixed if possible by letting the operator know.

  4. I can’t find a better post to write this on, but take a look at this: http://trimet.org/pdfs/maps/service-to-jeld-wen-field.pdf

    It shows that Kings Hill/SW Salmon station will be “CLOSED.” Does this just mean temporarily or permanently?

    I was just a little curious about that…

    • The Kings Hill/SW Salmon MAX Station will be closed starting 1 hour before the game and re-opening 1 1/2 hours after.

      http://trimet.org/timbers/

    • It’s “closed” in that the doors won’t open to service the platform, but trains still have to stop there to get their pre-empts and to make sure that their leader is not still at the next platform before departing.

      • Right. I saw on that map that it would be “closed” and I just thought right away that it’s a perfectly good stop – why close it? But the explanations make sense!

        • It should be close permanently because there is another station 2 blocks away in one direction, and then 4 blocks away in the other. This is one of the stupid reasons why it takes 1/2 hour to get through downtown on the MAX.

          Even Neil said that if they had to do it over again they wouldn’t build stations like Kings Hill, Skidmore, etc.

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