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1990 photo album into

From the ATU/TRI-MET 20th Anniversary Photo Album, April 1990


Visitors to the Portland metropolitan region invariably

remark on how gracefully Tri-Met, its transit system,

touches the places it serves. Buses move efficiently along

the Portland Mall. MAX rail cars glide quietly along

brick and cobblestone streets. Passenger amenities are

inviting. Vehicles are clean. Drivers are friendly.

All was not always so rosy.

Born in the 1969 crisis of increasing operating costs,

shrinking service and fewer and fewer people choosing

to take the bus, Tri-Met was created as a public agency

to maintain an essential public service. Tri-Met struggled

through the 70s to modernize its fleet, to expand service

and to meet the needs of a region realizing the effects of

the auto-dependent transportation planning of the 60s.

Portland\'s air was foul, highways and streets were

congested, and transportation planners were ready to

strangle neighborhoods with ribbons of concrete


Tri-Met and Portland captured national attention by

constructing the first transit mall of its kind in the country,

declaring the downtown business district a "Fareless

Square" and creating suburban transit centers with

timed-transfer service--a model for the nation. Two bus

operations facilities were added to serve Washington

County and East Multnomah County.

Air quality improved, Portlanders became more

conscious of transit\'s benefit to the region. Ridership

doubled in less than a decade and reached an all-time

high during the oil crisis of the1970s, prompting even

more aggressive planning to expand bus service and add

light rail.

The economic recession of the 80s, however, brought

declines in both tax revenues and ridership. Faced with

a declining market and dwindling economic resources,

Tri-Met managers and employees worked as a team on a

long-range plan to undertake the tough decisions needed

to restore stability and improve efficiency to get the

most out of each dollar invested in transit service.

Tri-Met\'s 15-mile light rail line, the Metropolitan

Area Express (MAX), opened on time and under budget in

September 1986. MAX has won many national and local

awards and is widely credited for boosting Tri-Met\'s

overall approval rating in the community.

Persistant and loyal employees guided by well-focused

managers continued the revival plan, and the commitment

paid off. By 1988, despite a fare increase, ridership

increased; despite an aging fleet, miles between road

calls improved; workers\' compensation expenses

dropped; accidents were dramatically reduced.

As Tri-Met concludes its second decade of service to

one of America\'s most livable cities and moves into the

1990s, Tri-Met\'s employees will continue to play a vital

role in keeping Portland and the surrounding region the

place that Atlanta architect Walter Carey described as

"The city every other American city wants to be".


Coming soon...

By Jason McHuff,