The sweeping service cuts & fare increases go into effect this weekend. Even though TriMet hasn’t officially told riders to expect delays, I think it’s reasonable to say that riders probably should expect delays as everyone gets used to the new changes.
Saturday, September 1st
Fare increases and zone changes are in effect as of Saturday. To board a TriMet vehicle, an adult pass is $2.50 for a 2-hr ticket, or $5 for an all-day pass with unlimited boarding. So if you need a round trip, you’re essentially encouraged to buy the all-day up front. Other fares for youth passes and honored citizens, as well as 7-, 14-, and 30-day passes are as follows (as per TriMet’s website):
THERE WILL NO LONGER BE A FREE RAIL ZONE. That means no more free transferring from Pioneer Square to Portland State, or parking at the Lloyd Center to catch a train to Blazer games at the Rose Quarter, etc. However, the Honored Citizen downtown bus pass will now include rail. If you qualify for an HC card and live in the area that was formerly covered by Fareless Square/Free Rail Zone, you can pay $10 for a pass that is good on all transit in that area for 2 years.
And even though it’s not technically TriMet, Portland Streetcar fare changes will also be in effect on Saturday. Not sure this was a widely-known fact, but previously (and currently through end-of-day tomorrow August 31) all TriMet passes and transfers were valid all-day passes on Streetcar – in other words, even if your 2-hr transfer expired and you couldn’t use it to board MAX or a bus, you could still use it to ride anywhere on streetcar for the remainder of the day. HOWEVER, effective on Saturday, TriMet passes that have expired will no longer be valid on Streetcar. Additionally, tickets purchased on board Streetcar will no longer be valid on TriMet MAX or buses. Streetcar will cost $1 to ride and that fare will only be valid on Streetcar for 2 hours; you can’t use it to transfer to a TriMet vehicle. You will still be able to use a valid TriMet pass purchased from a TVM or on a bus to transfer to Streetcar.
Sunday, September 2nd
The new signup begins on Sunday, September 2nd, and that’s when the service cuts and reroutes go into effect. Word(s) of advice: PLAN AHEAD. The first week or so of a new signup (operators sign up for their work every 3 months) is often marked by buses running late or people complaining that they had a driver who had no idea where the route went and a passenger had to give them directions. That’s not uncommon under normal conditions, but I would anticipate that it’s going to be a lot more prominent on a lot of bus routes this time around because of the large number of routes that have been drastically changed.
Donated pic from someone who noticed that the system map on the backs of the MAX ticket machines dates back to September 2009, so these are going to be woefully out of date. Granted, so is the rail map on the front…
This is going to be one of those instances where it’ll be a really good idea to try to give yourself a lot of time to get where you need to go. I know that’s not always possible, especially when scheduled connections have poor timing by design, but do what you can.
And this hasn’t really been discussed anywhere, but there are a lot of brand new operators out there right now. TriMet’s been having a huge hiring push for bus drivers, in part because that’s normal for the Orange Line ramp-up, but a lot of it is because there had been a hiring freeze on operators for so long that due to attrition over the last few years, it’s gotten to the point where there just aren’t enough operators – this is why so many runs get cancelled. There are a lot of new faces at bus (and at rail) nowadays, and let’s be honest, no one is an expert at their job when they’re new. Couple that inexperience with major route changes like these, and that’s why I think it’s fair to say that it’s not out of the question to be prepared for confusion and delays with these new service changes.
That said, do NOT take out your frustrations on the reroutes, service cuts or increased costs on your bus driver (or rail operator, or fare inspector, but let’s be honest, bus operators are the ones always in the line of fire). They did not vote in the cuts, they did not vote in the fare increases. These fine folks did. Take it up with them if you feel the need to express your anger or frustration, not the operators. The operators don’t deserve your ire. None of the front line TriMet workers operating your vehicles or checking your fares have the power to change any of this.
Monday, September 3rd
Labor Day! TriMet observes this federal holiday by running everything on Sunday schedules – and that means the new Sunday schedules, so service on this day will be the same as it was on September 2nd. Routes that don’t have Sunday service will not be running on Labor Day.
Tuesday, September 4th
The first “workday” with the new fares, no zones, and service cuts. Everything said above still applies – no more free rides anywhere downtown (MAX or Streetcar), allow plenty of time to get to your destination in case of delays, and don’t be a jerk to your drivers.
As of May, old TriMet tickets without a foil strip were no longer accepted as valid fare. Starting on Saturday, 2-zone tickets with a foil strip are not valid fare on their own (in other words, if you put that in a validator at a MAX platform and show it during a fare inspection, you may be given a citation), but they can be used to purchase an upgrade on a bus along with 40 cents. Alternatively, you can exchange your old 2-zone passes or any passes that you still have that don’t have a foil strip at the TriMet Ticket Office downtown in Pioneer Square through the end of this year.