PORTLAND -- Armed with a good Oregon Department Of Transportation inspection of the MAX rail system, TriMet fired back today at its employees union, which has expressed safety concerns in recent weeks.

The ODOT inspection found only normal wear and tear, but no safety problems. TriMet says the inspection took 50 hours, and was thorough.

In total, we inspected 21 switches six rail crossings and actually walked about five miles of track, said Safety and Security Administrator Harry Saporta. He added that the MAX system is safe for our customers, our employees and the public.

The Amalgamated Transit Union s president has aired numerous safety concerns, from worn switches and rails, to operator vision problems with new trains.

ATU President Bruce Hanson said the ODOT inspection and resulting report does not address all of his members safety concerns.

TriMet took their case a step further, claiming the transit union s concerns are not about safety, but about keeping the focus off of negotiating a new contract.

When a safety issue is raised, we will address it and take appropriate action. But this is really a diversionary campaign to keep people and our riders from knowing that health care reform is needed to prevent future service cuts and fare increases, said Mary Fetsch, Chief Media Relations Officer for TriMet.

Hanson called that claim ridiculous.

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