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 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.

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:

K & J Safety Review Phase 2 Findings and Recommendations
PDF · July 31, 2010

K & J Safety Review Phase 1 Findings and Recommendations
PDF · June 1, 2010

We then began moving forward with the consultant’s recommendations. Here’s our progress report:

Safety Recommendations Progress Report
PDF · January 12, 2011

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, which we implemented in our action plans.

Safety & Service Excellence Task Force Final Report & Recommendations
PDF · October 20, 2010

Creating TriMet’s Culture of Safety: Leading the Way to Service Excellence - An Update
PDF · May 2011

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 looking at poster design. 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.

  • We have 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 we can improve safety education? Let us know.

Safety improvements at MAX crossings

In 2015, we began making improvements to MAX stations along the Blue Line. These renovations include:

  • Shelter upgrades
  • Pedestrian crossing upgrades
  • Windscreens
  • Better security cameras and lighting
  • Card readers for Hop Fastpass, our upcoming electronic fare system

More safety improvements

We’ve taken the following steps to develop a culture of safety at TriMet:

  • Annual recertification training for all bus operators
  • Hiring a new safety and security executive that reports directly to the general manager
  • Reviewing reports and data from operators to track where “close calls” may have occurred, and then working to eliminate any potential hazard