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Celebrate Earth Day with TriMet!

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April 19, 2024


Portland metro area transit is getting even greener this year as we prepare battery-electric buses for service

This Earth Day, the atmosphere at TriMet is electric!

We’re getting ready to welcome riders aboard the first of our next-generation GILLIG battery-electric buses this spring. Twenty-four of these new buses will enter service with TriMet by the end of 2024.

With these new buses, we’re taking our next big step into a brighter and healthier future for our region.

Enhancing the experience

Right now, TriMet has 10 electric buses in service. Together, these buses save about 2.4 million pounds of CO2 emissions every year.

Introducing those buses was an important first step. Now, with battery-electric technology improving and our charging capacity ramping up, we’re more than tripling the size of our electric bus fleet this year.

Here’s what these new buses bring to the table:

  • Expanded battery capacity: The next-generation buses can store 33% more energy than the previous generation of GILLIG buses that TriMet rolled out in 2021.
  • Extended range: Our older GILLIG buses can go about 110 miles — or more, in ideal weather and traffic conditions — before they need to recharge. These new buses will be able to drive at least 150 miles, and likely longer for much of the year, on a single charge.
  • Zero emissions: Like the 10 battery-electric buses already in our fleet, the new buses don’t emit any greenhouse gases at all when they’re on the road. Although TriMet’s diesel buses run on renewable diesel that burns cleaner than conventional diesel fuels, our goal is still to have a zero-emissions bus fleet by 2040.
  • Quiet operation: Electric motors are much less noisy than internal combustion engines. Riders who are used to our diesel buses will notice the difference, with little to no engine noise or vibration no matter where you sit.
  • Smoother rides: The electric drives in these new buses have so much torque, they actually have to be “tuned down” for rider comfort! Acceleration and deceleration are very smooth compared to our diesel buses, with plenty of horsepower to get riders where they’re going.

We’re excited for riders to experience these new buses for themselves. But it’s not only riders who will benefit!

TriMet deploys our zero-emissions buses with livability, sustainability and equity in mind. In keeping with our Green Corridors Plan, we’ll put our new buses to work serving routes that experience poor air quality, as well as those with historically marginalized populations.


Going green(er)

TriMet’s bus, MAX and WES service effectively replaces the equivalent of 348,091 cars every year, saving more than 3.2 billion pounds of CO2 emissions. That’s a lot of greenhouse gas!

Every year, we’re reaping the benefits of moving to renewable diesel as the fuel for our diesel buses and WES trains, as well as 100% renewable electricity for MAX light rail and all TriMet-owned facilities, back in 2021. Those actions reduced TriMet’s greenhouse gas emissions by just over 70%.

You can join our growing ridership, too! Switching to transit is easy. Just go to trimet.org to plan your trip. Riding TriMet instead of driving is a great way to support our region’s health and reduce your own greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption.

We have a few more projects in the works that are especially good for the planet, too.

Transit-oriented development

Our transit centers and MAX stations are ideal anchors for development.

In recent years, we’ve seen apartments, hotels, food cart pods, retail shops, restaurants and event venues spring up and flourish around the Beaverton Central Station on the MAX Blue Line, the Milwaukie/Main Station on the MAX Orange Line, and the Lents Town Center/SE Foster Station on the MAX Green Line, to name just a few.

As exciting as these emerging communities are, why highlight them this Earth Day?

Well, when transit is at the center of a community, it makes it easier for the people who live there to get around without driving. Every time someone chooses to go by bus or rail instead of by car, they reduce their carbon footprint. And any time someone chooses to make their home or business near transit, they invest in our future.

What we call transit-oriented development takes private vehicles off the road and promotes cleaner, more affordable transportation. It also fosters denser development, which is more energy-efficient and doesn’t contribute to urban sprawl.

TriMet is a partner in the hollywoodHUB project, a 12-story affordable housing complex located in the heart of the Hollywood District. Residents of hollywoodHUB will be just steps away from the Hollywood MAX Station and nearby bus stops. That makes for easy access to transit and other amenities.

TriMet is also pleased to work with Multnomah County on transforming a former Park & Ride in Gresham. This will be the new home of the East County Library, which is expected to open in spring 2026. The world-class library will sit right between the Gresham City Hall MAX Station and our Frequent Express bus line, FX2-Division!

Electric vehicle charging

We know many TriMet riders share our passion for environmentally friendly transportation.

TriMet has expanded our charging capabilities at the Powell Operations Facility, our freshly renovated, sustainability-focused bus base in Southeast Portland. Those chargers will support the 24 new battery-electric buses we’re rolling out this year.

Now, at one of our busiest Park & Ride facilities, we’re working to meet the demand for more electric vehicle chargers that members of the public can use.

Right now, our SE Park Ave Park & Ride — located at the southern end of the MAX Orange Line, and also served by two bus lines — has six charging stations. People can drive their own electric vehicle to the Park & Ride, park it by one of these chargers, plug it in, and leave it to charge while they take TriMet to their destination.

But six charging stations aren’t always enough. So, we’re going to install more.

We recently started work on expanding the SE Park Ave Park & Ride. We’ll add two additional floors, with 334 new spaces. This upgrades the Park & Ride to our original vision when we built the MAX Orange Line a decade ago. The construction will also add wiring and equipment to support 40 more EV charging stalls.

We’re looking at adding more EV charging stations at additional TriMet facilities, too. It’s one of the many ways we’re making plans for our cleaner, greener transportation future, not just the present.

A Better Red

Since 2003, the MAX Red Line has run between the Beaverton Transit Center and the Portland International Airport. The Red Line has the second-highest ridership of any TriMet line, and it has served the region well for more than two decades.

Over those two decades, however, Washington County’s population has continued to grow. Hillsboro’s population stood at just over 70,000 when the Red Line began service. It’s now close to 110,000. Beaverton has grown as well, from a city of 80,000 to approximately 100,000 today.

We’ve also seen transit-oriented development sprout up around stations now served by the MAX Blue Line, which extends west to Hillsboro. More people than ever are living along the Westside MAX corridor we created in the 1990s and early 2000s.

That’s why we’re making the MAX Red Line (even) better.

This summer, we’ll complete our A Better Red MAX Extensions and Reliability Improvements project. This will extend MAX Red Line service to 10 more stations west of the Beaverton Transit Center. The improved MAX Red Line will run between the Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport MAX Station and the Portland Airport MAX Station.

Extending the MAX Red Line means Washington County residents can reach more opportunities without needing to drive there. People who live, work and recreate in Washington County will enjoy more frequent MAX service and a direct connection to the Portland Airport. It’s a low-cost, environmentally friendly and convenient way to get around!

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