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A Culture of Safety

Safety is the focus for all of TriMet's operational, planning and strategic decisions. Rather than thinking of it as a single priority—even as the highest priority—we are renewing our efforts to create a culture of safety.

TriMet buses and trains travel 2 million miles a month, stopping to pick up riders nearly 1 million times a week. This dynamic operating environment means that safety is more than a priority. In fact, it's our core value and the lens we use to make all of our decisions. This includes everything from hiring and training employees to operating and maintaining vehicles. Every TriMet employee is charged with embracing safety as a value.

Implementing safety consultant recommendations

Shortly after a fatal bus collision in April 2010, we initiated a top-to-bottom safety review led by an independent expert from K & J Safety and Security Consulting.

Safety Recommendations Progress Report
PDF · January 12, 2011

We're moving forward with the recommendations from a national safety expert. Here's a progress report.

The consultant interviewed employees and critically reviewed our documents and procedures, resulting in two reports with findings and recommendations for improving the culture of safety at TriMet:

Safety & Service Excellence Task Force

General Manager Neil McFarlane created the Safety & Service Excellence Task Force in July 2010 to further the work of the consultant's comprehensive safety review.

The task force was chaired by former TriMet General Manager Tom Walsh and included stakeholders with key areas of expertise including public safety, professional drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, a TriMet bus operator and a TriMet rail operator.

McFarlane challenged the group to "focus on how to migrate TriMet to the highest levels of safety performance and thereby improve our performance in all areas of our business." The task force looked at the culture of safety within the agency, the physical environment we operate in, and the behavior of individuals that interact with our system.

The task force held a series of public meetings and wrapped up its work in October with a final report containing 19 recommendations. We are currently developing action plans to implement these recommendations.

Line-by-line review of all bus routes

We initiated a line-by-line review of every bus route, looking for possible safety issues (such as stops or turns that might be unsafe or illegal). As a result, we've closed or moved several bus stops, and even rerouted buses to ensure that we're putting safety first.

All issues of immediate concern have been addressed, but there are other improvements that will take longer to implement because they are along routes that require us to partner with local jurisdictions to come to a solution.

Work continues as new potential safety concerns are identified.

Outreach and education

High school students were part of the design process for our 2010 school safety ad campaign, which urges kids to "Stay Alert, Stay Alive." These posters are being distributed to schools and will be installed in bus shelters, on bus benches and on buses and trains.

We take special care to educate riders—especially youth—on how to be safe around buses and trains.

  • TriMet has a  Safety Education Advisory Committee composed of community representatives who have a shared interest and stake in promoting safe interactions between bicyclists, pedestrians, drivers and transit users. Members of this group work together on common education efforts and advise TriMet. See the member list.
  • Safety messages are included in most of our rider materials: on our website, in brochures and on signs at bus stops and rail stations.
  • We run safety awareness campaigns when we open a new rail line and when there's a major change in service.
  • Our outreach staff work directly with schools to educate faculty, parents and students on how to behave safely around buses, MAX and WES.
  • In partnership with area teachers, we developed a safety outreach program targeted at students. And we offer free safety education materials for teachers.

Do you have a suggestion for how TriMet can improve safety education? Let us know.

Safety improvements at MAX crossings

Pedestrian safety signage at a MAX stationThis spring, we completed upgrades of 75 crossings and 45 MAX stations throughout the system to improve safety. Enhancements include:

  • fencing and channeling treatments that encourage pedestrians and cyclists tocross tracks at legal crossings and to look for a train before crossing the tracks.
  • signs and pavement markings that read "Look Both Ways," "Stop Here" and "Don't Stand Here" to encourage safe behavior and keep people off the tracks.
  • replacing damaged and worn tactile pavers (the bumpy tiles near the edge of the MAX platform) at several Eastside MAX Blue Line stations.
  • adding pedestrian swing gates at three high-speed crossings on the Westside MAX Blue Line

Learn more about Eastside MAX station improvements