Archive | Transportation Operations

Video Feature – Neil McFarlane Interview – Part 4

Here is the next segment in our interview with TriMet’s new General Manager, Neil McFarlane.

Today’s installment takes a look at transit modes such as BRT and future technology, and discusses issues related to rider involvement in agency decisions.

The complete list and schedule, after the break:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Part 1:
Introduction, Safety and Priorities
Part 2:
Funding, Capital Projects and Budget Concerns
Part 3:
Health Care, LIFT Service and the Fare System
Part 4:
Mode Choice, Technology and Rider Involvement
Part 5:
Future Planning, The Big Picture, and…

Video Feature – Neil McFarlane Interview – Part 2

Here is the next segment in our interview with TriMet’s new General Manager, Neil McFarlane.

[Corrected] Today’s Topic: Funding, Capital Projects and Budget Concerns.

The complete list and schedule, after the break:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Part 1:
Introduction, Safety and Priorities
Part 2:
Funding, Capital Projects and Budget Concerns
Part 3:
Health Care, LIFT Service and the Fare System
Part 4:
Mode Choice, Technology and Rider Involvement
Part 5:
Future Planning, The Big Picture, and…

Video Feature – Neil McFarlane Interview – Part 1

Last week, we sat down with TriMet’s new General Manager, Neil McFarlane, for an interview featuring your questions.

We have over 40 minutes of material. So that people can digest this via YouTube and comment, the interview has been divided into five segments, the first of which is shown today:

This segment provides some background and context, and gives Neil a chance to speak about his priorities. There’s not much Q&A here — reader questions begin in the following segments.

The complete list and schedule, after the break:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Part 1:
Introduction, Safety and Priorities
Part 2:
Funding, Capital Projects and Budget Concerns
Part 3:
Health Care, LIFT Service and the Fare System
Part 4:
Mode Choice, Technology and Rider Involvement
Part 5:
Future Planning, The Big Picture, and…

Video – TriMet Safety Review Press Conference

Yesterday, TriMet general manager Neil McFarlane held a press conference to talk about safety in light of this spring’s tragic bus accident and the ongoing safety review that incident spurred.

Some of the big changes announced (more are pending the outcome of the review):

  • TriMet will create a new safety director position which answers directly to the general manager
  • A safety task force will be empaneled, to be headed by former TriMet general manager Tom Walsh
  • Restrictions on the use of personal electronics by transit operators will be expanded to mandate that any such devices must be turned off at all times while operating a vehicle

Video – Part 1 – Main Presentation

Video – Part 2 – Q&A

We will be including portions of these videos in our feature interview with Neil McFarlane to provide additional context.

The Four-Car Type IV MAX Train

(Or, unfortunately, not a good afternoon for TriMet employees and customers.)

Video after the jump…

Yesterday was one of those “may you live in interesting times” sorts of interesting times. TriMet had a relatively-new Type IV light rail train (a variation of the Siemens S70) which became stuck at the NE 60th MAX station, right as Friday rush hour was warming up. This is the central I-84 corridor which carries the Blue, Red, and Green line trains.

I subscribe to TriMet’s rider alerts via email for the lines which run near my house, and as it happens this station is within a few blocks. I noticed the alert about a mechanical failure at around 4:45pm, and then an hour or so later it occurred to me that I didn’t see the alert which usually follows to note that all is up-and-running again.

With a quick double-check of TriMet’s web site, I confirmed that service was still interrupted and TriMet was running shuttle buses instead. I decided to grab my camera and walk over to the station for a closer look.

What I found was that a disabled eastbound Blue Line train was going nowhere.

I took care not to disturb the employees while they were working, but what I was able to pick up from casual remarks I overheard, and what was being told to curious passers-by outside the station area, was that an electrical and/or software problem was preventing the train from moving. It appeared that whenever it was attempted to move the train just a few inches, the brakes on one of the two cars would automatically fully kick in.

I’m not sure what all they tried before I arrived, but at this point they were attempting to couple another train (a type II or III) to the rear of the disabled train, and give it a push out of the station. But there were problems during and after the coupling process, and that train eventually left.

More attempts were made to inspect and manipulate the brakes and control connections between the two halves of the Type IV train, but it still exhibited the sticking problem.

Eventually, another Type IV train was brought in from the east, and through a carefully-orchestrated maneuver, was coupled to the disabled train and slowly pushed it to a spare track at the Hollywood Transit Center station. This provided a rarely-seen glimpse of a (slightly inoperative) four-car MAX train operating on the main tracks.

It took some time after this for service to be fully restored, with the final email update going out around 8:45pm, four hours later.

I imagine there’s going to be some interesting chats back and forth between TriMet and Siemens in the near future. :-)

Special thanks to the TriMet personnel who tolerated the presence of a camera nearby when it was optional for them to do so.