PORTLAND, Ore. — Parts of Oregon and southwest Washington are under heat advisories and warnings for this weekend. Temperatures will not likely reach the scorching 116-degree record that was set during the historic June heat wave, but some temperatures may reach triple-digits.
TriMet said it would offer fareless bus and MAX rides to cooling centers and people who can't afford the fare only need to make the operator aware.
Initially, TriMet said it would only offer fareless rides if temperatures hit 100 degrees. The agency released an updated statement Thursday night:
"Due to the the National Weather Service's heat advisory and with cooling centers open, we encourage anyone who might need relief from the heat to ride to a cooling center, even if you can't pay fare," TriMet said. "Effective immediately, you won't be denied a ride or get a ticket if you are going to a cooling center."
A spokesperson said these should not be described as free rides, "as not to confuse those who have the means to pay."
TriMet offers a list of cooling centers its services can reach in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas Counties. Masks are still required on all TriMet transportation and at transit centers and rail platforms.
This decision comes after the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM) held a press conference with Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Oregon Department of Human Services to discuss the excessive heat in the forecast this weekend and what Oregonians can do to stay safe.
The previous snafu with 211info, the nonprofit that works with the metro area and came under fire for not being staffed with workers or having cooling center information during the June heat wave, has staffed the line 24/7 through the summer and wildfire threat.
In the press conference, officials said that 83 deaths had been confirmed to have been a result of the heat and another 33 are still being investigated across the state, it was confirmed that roughly 10% of those deaths were people of color.
The state agencies had a similar message of leaning on the public to inform isolated and at-risk family and friends.
"No one should suffer heat exhaustion or heat stroke because they are alone and don’t have air conditioning or can’t get to a cooling center," said OHA director Rachael Banks, adding that no one should suffer while working in the extreme heat either.
Gov. Kate Brown announced a state of emergency for the heat on Thursday, July 29, to allow for additional resources to be accessible at the state and local level
It is recommended to not rely on a fan as a primary cooling source, to drink more water, wear lightweight and light-colored clothing and avoid being outside during peak heat hours, by health officials.