Monthly Archives: December 2012

New Year’s Service Alerts

system change ahead

First and foremost:


The old style of tickets without a foil strip have not been accepted as valid fare since May, though riders have been able to exchange them at the TriMet Ticket Office downtown in Pioneer Square. After the elimination of fare zones in September, 1- or 2-zone tickets, even with a foil strip, required a purchase of an upgrade on a bus to use as fare but were not valid on their own.

As of January 1, 2013 ALL of those will be invalid and use of them or upgrades will no longer be honored. You won’t be able to exchange them, you won’t be able to use them. There is currently some question over the legality of this, but if you still have books of those tickets kicking around, make every effort to exchange those today or on Monday because after that they will be worthless.

The ticket office is located in Pioneer Square near the fountains under the Starbucks, and is open M-F 8:30a-5:30p.

Next up – New Year’s service

trafficLate night rail service will be run on NYE, and all service is free after 8pm

New Year’s Eve

The 31st is on a Monday, so regular weekday service will be run for buses, WES, and Streetcar. Service is not free before 8pm. After 8pm, all service is free, and MAX will be running extended service after normal service hours on Blue, Green, and Yellow lines (approximately every 35 minutes until 3:30am). Shuttle buses will be running between Gateway and PDX after normal Red Line service ends. There is no extra late-night bus service.

New Year’s Day

On New Year’s Day, Sunday schedules will be in use for bus and MAX. Streetcar will be on Saturday schedules, and WES won’t be in service. Free rides won’t be in effect with the start of normal service hours. TriMet Customer Service and Ticket Office will both be closed. And any old tickets you had will be worthless as fare, so if you’d stockpiled any before fare increases, now’s the time to use them or lose them…

Be safe, be courteous, don’t push your friends in front of trains, and have a great new year!

Forward, neutral, reverse, off

Oh good, a technical question. Plus an excuse to use a bunch of pics.

Question: What are those signs at Gateway that say “Reverser in Neutral” for?

signal78Example sign near Signal 78

First, a little bit of train anatomy. Here is what’s known as the “master controller” (no, not that one), this particular one is in a Type 2.

mastercontrollerThe master controller: reverser on left, motoring drum handle on right

When starting up a train, operators move the reverser handle first into neutral, rather than to forward or reverse. This essentially lets the train boot up properly. If I understand it correctly (this is getting into more maintenance than operations), there’s also a built-in daily failsafe in the trains that runs a computer check the first time a train is keyed into after midnight, which checks the track brakes and sand, so leaving the train in neutral while it runs this test prevents excessive sand dumping. Anyway, once that’s done, the reverser is used to select the direction of travel.

  • “Forward” is what the public is used to seeing, where the train’s headlights and cyclops (aka railroad light) in the front of the train are lit and the train is moving forward.
  • “Reverse” makes the train able to back up, and so this almost never done since you can’t see where you’re going. This is not to be confused with running reverse traffic, where the train is going the “wrong way” down the tracks but with the operator facing the same direction the train is moving. The only time passengers would be likely to see a train backing up is when cars need to be uncoupled on the mainline.
  • When the reverser is in “neutral” you can’t move the train in any direction, but the train still recognizes that cab as the active cab. The headlights & cyclops will go dark, and will be lit again when the reverser is moved to a direction of travel.
  • “Off” – turns the train propulsion systems off, but does not affect auxiliary power (this is how an operator can leave the train at the end of the line but the lights, HVACs, and doors will all still have power). Type 4s don’t have an off position; neutral serves the same function.

In both directions at Gateway, operators move the reverser into neutral while servicing the platforms. Here’s a westbound red line train coming into the pocket track at Gateway (reverser in forward) and then stopping at the signal to service the platform (reverser in neutral).


Putting the reverser into neutral here is a communication to buses. The layout of Gateway has buses crossing the tracks on either end of the platforms, so putting the train in neutral darkens the forward lights and lets buses know that it’s safe to cross. Elsewhere on the alignment, operators will also put trains in neutral to let emergency vehicles pass (as well as funeral processions, but those aren’t as common).

neutral platformTrain in neutral at Pioneer Courthouse (not sure why, I’m assuming that an emergency vehicle was passing through). 

Not related to the reverser, but for those of you looking at the propulsion and braking modes in the second picture and are curious, the range of propulsion acceleration is 0.3 mph/sec in P1 to 3 mph/sec in P5. That would be a very rough start, so trains don’t leave platforms in P5. The braking has the same range of deceleration from B1 through MSB (maximum service brake, the highest level of braking used in normal service). On the bottom is the maximum brake, reserved for emergency stopping as it decelerates at a rate of 3.2 mph/sec. In the middle, MP is the minimal amount of propulsion you can use, coast is neither braking nor propulsion, and SM1-SM3 are similar to a car’s cruise control, designed to hold the train at different maximum speeds without going over.