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TriMet to reduce service levels this fall due to ongoing operator shortage

A spokesperson for TriMet explained the agency hopes to provide better bus service and increase reliability by temporarily cutting down on 10 routes.

PORTLAND, Ore. — TriMet announced it will shift, reduce or cancel some services until operator numbers increase, starting in mid-September. The temporary change will impact 10 bus lines currently seeing low ridership. 

Delays, disruptions and lack of service have become commonplace on many TriMet bus and MAX train routes. Tyler Graf, a spokesperson for TriMet, explained it's not an ideal scenario. 

"We understand that 15, 30 minutes is actually quite a bit of time [to be delayed] if people are needing to get someplace. That's why we do apologize to all of our riders for the delays they've seen recently," Graf said. "These temporary service reductions are essentially a reality check. Over the last few months, our service has simply not been what it should be. We've had more service scheduled than we've had operators that can provide service."

RELATED: TriMet increases entry pay in effort to recruit 300 bus drivers

Beginning September 18, several routes will have temporary service level reductions

  • Cancel two bus lines: 50-Cedar Mill and 92-South Beaverton Express
  • Reduce service hours on three low-ridership bus lines to only run buses during peak travel time for high school students: 1-Vermont, 18-Hillside and 26-Thurman/NW 18th
  • Weekend service will be canceled on 26-Thurman/NW 18th Ave
  • Cancel extra weekday rush-hour trips on three bus lines as peak ridership trends have changed: 8-Jackson Park/NE 15th, 9-Powell Boulevard and 72-Killingsworth/82nd Ave
  • Cancel extra trips added during the pandemic for physical distancing on one bus line: 81-Kane/257th
  • Reduce frequency on one low-ridership bus line to hourly service: 82-South Gresham

By cutting down on these routes, TriMet hopes to increase schedule reliability, meaning fewer canceled or late buses. Meantime, hiring remains the top priority. Increase base pay and hiring bonuses are still in effect. TriMet has even taken its efforts out of state, recruiting drivers from other places. 

"We've seen a big uptick in the number of applicants since the beginning of the year. I think that we are over 1,000 now," Graf said.

Despite the number of people applying, interviewing, hiring and training takes time and resources. For now, expect service levels to remain the same. To keep up with unexpected delays, TriMet urges riders to sign up for service alerts. 

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