Since 1969, TriMet has been the public agency that provides public transportation services to the Portland Metro Area. These services are:
Before 1969, the city's bus lines were privately run by the Rose City Transit Company. When that company was facing bankruptcy, they had threatened to either perform a major far hike or to cease service entirely. On January 14th, 1969, Portland City Council under Portland Mayor Terry Schrunk passed a resolution to create TriMet in order to take over the local bus systems. Rose City Transit made an agreement with TriMet to turn over operations on December 1st, 1969.
By 1975, Fareless Square had been established, and the downtown transit mall on 5th and 6th Avenues had been opened. The first MAX line between Portland and Gresham opened in 1986, and ground broke on the extension to Hillsboro in 1993, with it opening in 1998. Additional light rail lines opened in 2001 (MAX Red Line to the airport), in 2004 (MAX Yellow Line to the Expo Center), and in 2009 (MAX Green Line to Clackamas). The Portland Streetcar began service in 2001, and the Westside Express Service opened in 2009.
Questions You've Always Wanted to Ask the Trimet Bus Driver
Frequently Asked Questions for Trimet bus drivers. All the questions you've wondered but never had a chance to ask them. (And making small talk is difficult while they are driving). Questions asked by myself and answered by a driver who I'll leave anonymous at this point.
- What happens when a driver has to pee?
Answer: Officially, a driver will hold it until they arrive at a depot where their route ends. Peeing on the clock is difficult, because their stop scheduling is programmed by a computer (and computers never pee). Subsequently, bus drivers in later years urinary and bladder health issues similar to truck drivers.
- What if a bus driver has to urinate BADLY?
Answer: Officially, if a driver needs to pee really badly, they can push a 'Code 4' button on their dashboard, which will signal to the Trimet office that a driver has to stop to pee. Beyond that it's unclear how they officially pee. If the driver is male, they have been known to stop near a bush (where the side cameras have a blind spot). Some plants are a little greener. For female drivers, there are two waste baskets in the front.If you see a bus parked on the side with its flashing, there is a chance a driver is in the bus taking care of business. Sadly, some drivers have had to leave the seat wet (which is a subject for the Union)
- What's the weirdest thing you've see on the Job?
Answer: By default, when asked, most drivers will identify an occurrence of crazy driving. When asked about what is the weirdest thing inside the topic focuses on crazy. One in particular, a woman stepped up onto the bus and said she didn't have any money, but upon lifting her shirt and bearing her breasts asked if THIS was good enough.
- Can a driver let woman ride for free if she shows her breasts?
Answer: Not likely. Three cameras would see it. It would set the station in red alert, and the driver would be watched as carefully. The station sees everything so if it's visible then the driver can do nothing.
- How can I ride for free?
Answer: There are at least 3 cameras watching the bus driver at all times. The driver has some discretion to let someone ride so if the suggestion would be not to make it visibly obvious that something was amiss.
- Is there a good time or way to ask the bus driver a question?
Answer: Yes, actually. While the bus is stopped. Walk up to the yellow line marked on the floor which identifies the closest a passenger should be allowed to the driver. For a male driver say, "Excuse me sir I have a question." For a female driver say, "Excuse me Mam, I have a question." Let the driver choose when to reply. If asking about a stop or route, try to ask the question as early as possible.
- What's driving like as a career?
Answer: It's one of those jobs that starts as a short-term solution, but turns into a long timer career. Much in the same manner of taxi driving. Most bus drivers have a pet project they are working on on the side.
- Is driving a school bus a step up or a step down in the career?
Answer: It is definitely a step down (because the riders are screaming kids.)
- How does a bus driver learn a route?
Answer: The most common way is to ride the route with the current driver and learn by seeing. Some drivers will drive the route in their car the weekend before to get a sense for it.
- Does a bus driver get to stay driving a route?
Answer: A bus driver is rotated off of a route every 3 months. Route selection is by seniority, so veteran bus drivers will collect 5-6 routes they like and then choose one when they have to rotate.
- Is it a good idea to become a driver?
Answer: The class to become a driver is free, and passing it will reward you with a commercial drivers license that allows you to do many driving-related careers. They are always hiring.