PORTLAND -- A new fleet of TriMet hybrid buses includes microphones that can record passenger conversations.

As first reported by KGW news partner The Oregonian, the microphones can be used to pick up conversations between passengers, as well as any abnormal mechanical sounds. Recordings can be used during investigations into complaints, crashes or crimes.

TriMet purchased the state-of-the-art Gillig 3000-Series buses in fall 2012 and, with the launch of four hybrid buses in January, has put them all into service.

While the agency shared many of the new features in an October press release, including improved tracking and security camera systems, the new microphones were not listed in the statement.

But spokeswoman Mary Fetsch told KGW the sound recording was a standard feature of the new buses.

The audio came standard with the new buses, she said. Transit buses across the country have this same feature, as close as CTRAN in Vancouver.

A sign on each bus alerts riders that they will be recorded.

Some TriMet drivers also complained in January that the new hybrid buses were unsafe.

Related: TriMet adds new security measures

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