Category Archives: Beaverton Transit Center

An unusual move for a MAX train at Beaverton Transit Center…

This was the sight late yesterday at Beaverton Transit Center; a train to Hillsboro just departed the normal Red Line layover which is the middle track at BTC.  A Blue Line to Hillsboro was broken down at the regular westbound platform.

I was almost at the end of my break when I looked over to my left and noticed what I thought was a full RED LINE on the middle track and thought “Hm – something is going on…” – and suddenly the “Red Line” closed it’s doors, and headed WESTbound – oppss…

The train on the left is a train coming in to BTC the “normal” way, going eastbound, to Gresham.  The new Type 4 is on the center track, going through the time lock switch. 

Why was this move so startling to me?  There is a time lock switch for the trains on the track going westbound from the middle track at BTC.  If I don’t remember wrong, it takes 4 minutes and 17 seconds to unlock this switch.  It is like the switch is saying “Are you quite sure, are you POSITIVE, that you REALLY want to make this move???”   4 minutes and 17 seconds is a long time for any supervisor to make sure that this IS indeed the move “you/they” want to make.  This is a safety feature on critical switches that should NOT be switched unless “they” are quite sure “they” want the train to go there.

So I fumbled around in my backpack for my phone, ran over to the rail platform and got these two pictures.  I am glad my phone takes good pictures! :-) 

This move is very seldom done, and I had never seen it before.

Beaverton Transit Center entrance…

…the entrance seen from across the street.  I usually walk from either the Beaverton Creek or the Millikan MAX platform when I start work at BTC – I am trying to loose some very stubborn 20 pounds that attached themselves to my body when my thyroid decided to go on permanent vacation – it’s just sitting there inside my neck doing as little as it can get away with, the lazy little gland…  Arrgghh…

Sent a Moment ago…

1, 2, 3 incidents – I was on a roll…


It was one of those days when EVERYTHING seemed to conspire against me. The negative powers of the rails were out to get me. I felt forgetful, I felt dumb, I was startled, I felt helpful, I was annoyed, I felt lazy, then I felt helpful again – which basically means that I am just a normal, average light rail operator… I think.

My day started out with a self made emergency while I was on my way to Beaverton TC to pick up my Red Line. I had about 30 minutes until I had to leave BTC for the airport.

Looking for something in my bag, I realized that my wallet was missing. I immediately knew where it was: at home in the purse I never take to work. No big deal, really, unless I wanted to operate my train today. We are not allowed to operate the trains without three very important documents in our possession: our (CDL) driver license, our light rail certification card, and our Medical card which certifies that we are medically able to operate a commercial vehicle.

I called the guy at Elmo who is in charge of getting coverage for all our runs every day, and told him my sad story. He kindly agreed to let me take an operator with me to pick up my wallet, and then have the operator run me over to BTC – I live close to Elmonica, so there was probably time enough… We used my car – and I made it just in time to see my train arrive at BTC. The operator left my car at work where I found it after I parked my train tonight.

That was it – I had had enough excitement for one night.

Above: it is good to remind ourselves that things could be SO much worse…

But, apparently not. I scooted out to the airport on my Red Line, then back toward BTC; my last stop before BTC was, of course, Sunset TC. Happily, I noted that I was one time and that my first round trip had gone smoothly in spite of the rough start to my day.

I should NEVER think such positive, stuck up thoughts. As I glided to a stop at Sunset, I noticed that the doors on the elevator on the westbound platform looked different. They were not a shiny silvery color like they normally are; instead they had all kinds of levers and rods showing, and the color of the doors were brown. Strange, I thought, but oh, just something wrong with the way the doors look. Somebody surely has called that in.

I closed the doors on my train, rang my bells and barely started up when suddenly I saw a hand waving frantically through a three inch gap in the middle of the elevator doors. It was as if I looked at a horror movie, except it was daylight – and it was at Sunset TC. Startled, I stopped my train, looked again and realized that somebody was stuck inside the elevator, waving as much as he or she could to get my attention.

After calling control and telling him what I saw, I walked over to see what was wrong with the doors; they were definitely stuck. The outside doors were open, the inside doors on the elevator itself, were not. Together with one of the people on the elevator, I was able to open the doors three inches – and they made a horrible screeching noise while we tried to force them open. No luck. They were as stuck as they could be. I was told to stay with the elevator, reassuring the poor people inside it that help was on it’s way.

After a (long?) while a bus driver who was on my train managed to get the doors open – he lifted some of the exposed levers and magically, the doors opened – to the great relief of the four people stuck inside. Since we could not leave the elevator unsecured, I had to stay with the broken thing until a supervisor arrived.

As soon as I saw supervisor B, I jumped on my train, flew downhill into BTC, got into my easterly cab and realized that I gotten out of the way of a LONG line of trains that had formed behind me – YEAH! I plugged up the alignment again. YES! :-) :-)

Passengers were not as thrilled about this little incident as I was (I was not really, but I try to see the positive in bad things at work), but they also understood that the malfunctioning elevator could not be left until other TriMet personnel arrived.

My train and I went back to the airport – very late, but hauling more people and suitcases than I have ever done before. Thanksgiving vacation started today for a lot of people. On my way back up to Gateway I got stuck by a Green Line that was doing an operator relief and I was NOT happy – forget that stuff about seeing the positive in bad things at work. Grrr…

On the other hand, it all ended up giving me a long, long, LONG break at 11th Avenue since I was so late by the time I got downtown that I was in everybody’s way. Me having a break = good thing about work :-)

Before they took me out of service, they made sure that the two trains right on my tail were both going to Hatfield. The operator of the train right behind mine later chided me in a friendly manner about being “lazy” and enjoying dumping my load on him. I agreed! HA!

By now, I thought for sure my excitement was over for the day. Not so. I made my way out to Gresham (where the operator chided me and so on – see above – he is a nice guy!) and eagerly awaited my last trip for the night, which would take me to Hillsboro.

Ah, the sweetness of the last trip… Looking forward to getting off work after a demanding day at work. You all know how it feels…

So when a guy came on the passenger emergency intercom at Gresham Central (Gresham TC) and said something about two women and a purse and the train ahead of mine, I thought: “Simple, just get the info from this dude while you are on your way down to Burnside and call it in to control.” Eh… not so fast… I closed my doors, rang my bells and suddenly heard from the guy: “NO NO – I must get off here, I must catch a bus here!” So I stopped my train (I had moved no more than a foot or two), looked at my signal and hoped it would be OK (as in not tripping it), opened the doors and let him off after he once again tried to tell me what was wrong.

As confused as I have ever been, I called control and told her what I kind of understood – or rather, what I did NOT understand – the guy was very upset and he talked too fast. She sent a supervisor who managed to find the young man; turns out two women stole his wife’s purse. I think the culprits were apprehended further down the line, thanks to some great work by the controller, the supervisor and the police.

THAT WAS IT. I crossed my fingers and told the train gods that I did not want any more. They heard my desperate pleas and nothing else happened on my way to Hatfield. I was relieved…

:-)

Trimet purchasing used trains to help WES service

From Oregon Local Live comes this story which I saw on KGW last night:

(I think this is a great improvement to WES; according the the KGW report last night, there have been 15 days of bus bridges so far since WES opened in February, surely not a good track record. In order to improve ridership, service must be more regular, and hopefully, with these two old trains, it will be.)

TriMet looks to purchase used trains to help deal with WES disruptions

By Joseph Rose, The Oregonian

October 28, 2009, 10:58AM

large_wes.jpg

Fredrick D. Joe/The Oregonian

TriMet is in the process of purchasing two 56-year-old diesel trains “as spares” for Westside Express disruptions like the ones that have hit the Wilsonville-to-Beaverton commuter rail this year, including one Wednesday morning.

An electrical component failure on a Westside Express train caused the disruption, but TriMet expected the problem to be fixed and service to return to full capacity for the evening commute.

“The component was replaced, but the programming was not done in time for this morning’s commute,” said spokeswoman Bekki Witt. “We are expecting to be up and running for this afternoon.”

TriMet will pay $75,000 each for two used DMU rail cars, which include both the engine and passenger seating on each unit, from Alaska Railroad. Both were made by the Budd Company in 1953. By contrast, the three powered cars and one trailer currently operating on the line and were purchased new from now-defunct Colorado Railcar Manufacturing for $5 million each.

“We expect them to arrive later this year,” she said, “but they will not be ready for revenue service until next year. … They will be used as spares.”

In addition to lagging ridership, WES has encountered numerous disruptions because of faulty systems, maintenance problems and even blooming cottonwood trees clogging engines since opening in February. This morning’s disruption was the second in less than a month. Two weeks ago, repairs on a train’s transmission line caused nearly two days of disrupted service.

Four of the 16 morning WES trips Wednesday morning were handled by shuttle buses, adding up to 30 minutes to commuters’ trips.

Witt, however, said the agency isn’t concerned.

“Whenever you open a new line with new equipment, there is going to be a period where bugs are worked out,” she said. “We are still working through that period. And though we work very hard to keep our vehicles in good working order, there will likely be equipment issues from time to time.”

That’s also true of buses and MAX vehicles, she said. “It is just more noticeable with WES because we do not have spare vehicles and must supplement train service with shuttle buses when a WES vehicle is out for repair.”

WES riders certainly noticed Wednesday morning, using the Internet to express their frustrations. Some took to calling it “Mess Transit” on Twitter.

At The Oregonian’s Hard Drive commuting blog, one reader asked, “how many new buses would this white elephant train have bought?”

Another commented that his boss is getting irritated at him being late due to WES disruptions. “Can’t play with WES anymore,” he wrote. “Just should put a light rail in to Wilsonville?”

Joseph Rose, Twitter: pdxcommute

WES mechanical problems???? Nooooo…

Found this little notice in my email this morning…

“Due to mechanical problems, every third WES trip will be served by buses starting at 6:19 a.m. from Wilsonville, 6:29 from Tualatin, 6:37 from Tigard and the 6:41 from Hall/Nimbus to Beaverton Transit Center.”

Sigh…

Type 4′s are not the only new vehicle at TriMet with some “slight” difficulties… Blame it on the heat or lack of heat, or whatever….

I love my job, I love my job, I love my job, I love everything about my job…

No, really, I do! These are all just challenges for us to grow from.

UPDATE: (also in my email)

“WES service has been restored and will run normal schedules for the Monday, August 10, afternoon commute.”

I am sure a lot of commuters are happy about this. WES is cool – I have heard a lot of good about it, so I better get on it and take a ride – soon… With my laptop! :-)

Ugh – I hogged the airways for hours…

It was one of those days at work that I will not soon forget. I tried, but here I am already writing about it. Sad.

I went to work thinking it would be a quick two round trips on the Yellow Line, followed by two almost as quick round trips on the Red Line.

Eh – not so fast…

But first, when did all this happen? Today? – but today, right now, is Sunday 12:40 AM and I have not yet done my Sunday work… or do I call it yesterday because in a way it is still Saturday today because I have not slept yet, so yesterday is really still today…

LAST NIGHT/AFTERNOON – I knew I’d get around it somehow… except “last afternoon” just does not sound as good as “last night” does. Do we ever talk about “last afternoon”? Well, we do now. (And who says a NorVegian cannot change English grammar stuff????) (For the BETTER.) ;-)

Last afternoon I found out I would not be relieved on my Yellow Line as planned; I thus took off from the 11th Avenue terminus, after having talked with Control about it at least twice; my relief operator would be at Interstate Rose Quarter. My next train – 47 – would be held for me at Rose Quarter, so I could jump on it and ride to Beaverton TC where I would relieve it. Great. I really wanted to run from IRQ to RQ to catch a train full of people wondering why they could not get down to the big beer fest by the Waterfront as soon as they wanted. And, of course, I really wanted to work out a little bit in the mild 94 degree weather.

I like Control’s idea of helping me cope with the heat/my health.

My relief operator walked calmly up to my train – he had NOT been running – and I said, “Hi – good train, thanks for coming. Bye.” Then I took off running toward a train I was sure was sitting in the heat waiting for that woman driver who, by the way, loves to walk all over town (that’s right – I walk part of the way to work now and then to stay in shape… I need to, ’cause age is creeping up on me and I am fighting it) – but running is NOT my thing.

I decided which route to take and off I went, dragging my wheeled backpack that suddenly felt like it weighed more than I do. (DON’T ask that!!!)

With my tongue hanging down a la dog, I sprinted, and rounded the curve where I could see – NO train 47. I let my eyes follow the tracks up toward Oregon Convention Center, and – yeah! – there was a train coming down the hill – and it had a red overhead. Life is good – and so was, it turned out, the air conditioning on train 47. A great blessing. I cooled off and dried.

We got to Beaverton TC a few minutes before I was supposed to take over the train, so I grabbed the portable radio, and ran to get my “comfort break”. Important. And while I was running to the break room (why the heck am I not skinny????) I called Control and told him I was where I was supposed to be, and he admonished me to drink LOTS of water to stay cool during this heat.

Yep, I know – and that is why I needed that COMFORT BREAK.

Sitting down in my easterly cab a few minutes later, my bladder was happy, but the rest of me was not. It was truly hot last afternoon/evening. I was glad I was by myself, because I was as red as a ripe tomato; I drank more water.

Now the fun really started. All our trains are having their APACU changed. APACU is our handy little abbreviation for the stop announcements and those reader boards that are inside the trains. It also controls the OVERHEAD and the signs on the sides of the low floor train cars.

When the APACU misfires – like mine did ALL NIGHT LONG – it creates more work – and more confusion. I don’t mind the latter – I hate the former.

My front sign was stuck on BEAVERTON TC. GReat – ’cause I was going to Portland Airport. If I were really going to BTC after I stopped at Sunset eastbound, I would have had to reverse all the way down the hill. My employer does not like those kinds of stunts.

I thought I had a Public Announcement system to help me out, but NOOO… Nada. Irritating. By the time I reached Sunset I had called Control 34 times. The controller on duty for the west side turned out to be very patient. He told me to call him if the APACU did not somehow “start working on it’s own” by the time I almost left his air.

I hate this transition time with the APACU. Sure, we need more numbers to punch in with this Green Line opening up because we have more destinations to go to, and more information to give to our riders. I get that. But why is it such a pain in the butt? – actually, more like pain in the finger since you try all kinds of tricks to get the APACU to work: “shift, shift, space”, or this one: “0 0 enter”. Nothing worked. And when my PA system went belly up, it put me in a pickle. Now I could not tell people where we were, or where we were going. I could also not tell them – and I never cuss – what I really felt about the APACU.

At PGE Park eastbound I was told to try the “0 0 enter” as I rolled past the 11th Avenue terminus. I was just about to try it when I was told to just “key out” – basically turn the train off while leaving the AC, the lights on and the doors working – and wait for 20 to 30 seconds at the Library stop. I did – and got my PA system back – but the overhead was still saying BEAVERTON TC. A few more stops, and I thought I had it all fixed – sometimes things just magically fix themselves on the train; don’t know how. It is one of the mysteries of train travel.

Then – darn it – I lost my PA system again.

ARRGGHH…

And I was still going to BTC instead of PDX. Apparently. But not really.

I talked with Control a few more times on my way to Gateway about my APACU, but in my heart, I had just given up. I felt defeated. And I was sooo late. Of course, so was everybody else because of the heat. When the mercury hits 90, we slow down in high speed areas to 10 mph below posted speeds. That makes for safer travel – we kind of crawl along. We come when we come. All is well. All is cool – inside the trains at least, because our AC’s always work just fine. Unless they are broken.

Arriving at the airport, I had some extra work to do; I had been told to not only “key out”, but to go one step further, which is to “aux off”. “Auxing off” means we shut down the train completely, lights off, AC off, everything off. It has the same effect as rebooting a computer. I sweetly asked people on the platform to wait to board my train. I did not want to have people on the train while it was auxed off, because the doors do not work when all power has been shut off.

Of course, a couple of people did not hear, so security and I had to escort them off the train.

While my train was doing it’s rebooting, train style, I found time for a comfort break.

A few minutes later, I auxed on, keyed in – and the train worked as intended! YEAH. I was so happy. For about 30 seconds. After I called my signal and tried to close my doors, I still had an open door indication. I opened and closed the doors a couple of times, but that did not help. With the help of my now working PA system, I told my passengers I had to get out of my cab and fix a door. Control told me OK and off I went.

Of course it was the door farthest away from my cab. Door 1 in car 252 – and it just needed to be reset, not cut out (disabled). Great. That only delayed me three or four more minutes.

Getting back into my cab, I called up Control and – bless her heart – she almost cheered when she heard I was leaving PDX. So did I. My good mood, though, only lasted about three minutes… ’cause my PA and APACU died on me again.

On my way to Gateway I was told to give up on the APACU and just make my own announcements. Somehow I got the PA going again at Parkrose southbound; that lasted for a few minutes and then my PA died again.

Really, there comes a time in life when you start accepting such things. I had foolishly tried to input a destination code, and it froze the system – again. Grrr… I was getting moody. I told Control I was 15 minutes late, and could they please help me because I was kind of holding up the trains behind me – and I needed a break. Without dinner, I get grumpy. Without a working PA and APACU, I get grumpy.

Downtown they had me pull into the 11th Avenue turnaround, thus I got my break. However, it did nothing for my APACU. But, as I said, there comes a time in life when you start accepting…

not…

Next trip to PDX, from 11th Avenue terminus: I was almost to the Airport when the train suddenly stopped. I knew I had not gone too fast for a speed trip (20 mph – they slow us down gradually into the airport platform) and I knew I had not hit the mushroom. For a split second it had looked as if somebody had pulled the emergency handle on a door. The train came to a gentle stop. Darn.

I called Control for the 168th time last night; magically, while talking with her, I noticed that the lights on my console went out, making it look as if all was well. To my delight (I am easy to please) the train moved when I put it in propulsion. I was only about six hundred feet from the PDX platform – yeah. I really did not want to delay the train waiting to leave the airport any further.

Suddenly, the train stopped again, just as I passed over the last speed trip (10 mph) by PDX (I ALWAYS go across that one at 7 or 8 mph to be safe). This time I could not get the stupid train to move again; my console showed me that this time somebody had, indeed, pulled an emergency door handle. Sigh… (We affectionately call this little stunt “being red knobed” – an affection, by the way, unlike any you would show your loved ones.)

I was NOT happy.

Once again, I called Control. I told her that I would be out with an emergency door handle. I locked my cab, walked through the front car looking for a red light over a door indicating it was not closed, found none, got out of the train with my crew key, opened the nearest door on my back car, and found myself face to face with two very drunk men.

Oh, great! That just made my day. Apparently they were upset that the sign on the inside reader board said that we were going to BEAVERTON TC – they did not want BTC, nor did they seem to want PDX. Another operator came and helped me – his train was stuck by mine anyway – and he saw that the door emergency handle hidden from my view behind these two yokels, was pulled. He reset the door for me and I walked to my cab while he stayed behind and talked with these two fools.

Their little stunt cost me another few minutes – all I could do was throw my hands up in the air. I parked the train, took a break and watched as the airport police dealt with the two inebriated men. They were not allowed back on the trains – I have no idea how they eventually managed to get to their destination. I don’t care. They pulled the emergency handle twice – it just did not stay open the first time. Pulling the emergency handle could cause injuries to unsuspecting passengers if it is done at high speeds because the train STOPS – not always gently like it did twice for me last night at low speeds.

Very irritating.

And, very funny. Had I not laughed, I would have cried – the two drunks just proved to me that this had been “one of THOSE days”…

One more time I tried to fix my APACU, then gave up. A supervisor at Rose Quarter told me to just get the PA system working; I did, and operated the train with a BEAVERTON TC overhead all the way to 170th Elmonica – where I was VERY happy to be done with my day…

Ugh…

Well, I survived. I can say with 100 % certainty that last night set a new record for my being on the air. I would say I averaged about every 30 or 40 seconds. Really.

Ah, but tomorrow (or is that today???) is a new day – - is tomorrow Sunday or Monday???

I am sooo confused. I am tired. But, it has been very good therapy for me to write all this down. I needed it. :-)

Now, I need to get some shut eye…

People out of control

What’s up with the people riding our transit system???

The fare inspector whose collar bone reportedly was broken by an out of control individual at Beaverton Transit Center last night, did not deserve to be attacked for doing his/her job.

The kids who misbehave, the men and women who curse me out for my not opening the doors after I have called my signal, the petition signature collector who cursed out both myself and later a rail supervisor, the drunk who I thought might have fallen between my train cars (I went out and looked to be sure – he was not there, thankfully) and the people who give me the finger when all I am doing is my job… And that is just a FEW of the things that happened on or near my train in ONE SINGLE DAY!

Some (no, MANY) people are acting as if they were in the midst of a two year old’s temper tantrum – they apparently have not learned to behave in a civil manner. Punching somebody causing bodily harm, or cussing somebody out because they are not getting THEIR way, is unacceptable. Many people understand this; unfortunately, many do not.

Even as a light rail operator, I am exposed to these out of control people. Our society seems to encourage this by a lack of jail time or other appropriate consequences, a lack of help for those who need help to become more mentally stable, and a lack of use of one of my favorite words, NO.

It is upsetting when one of my colleagues is attacked like this. I find no excuse for this kind of behavior. I find no excuse for violence of any kind directed at anybody, no matter who they are or what they are supposedly doing that displeases the perpetrator so much.

My heart goes out to this inspector who was simply doing his/her job at Beaverton Transit Center last night…

TriMet far inspector attacked


From KGW.com comes this bit of nasty news:

TriMet fare inspector attacked in Beaverton


09:38 AM PDT on Monday, July 6, 2009

By TERESA YUAN, Kgw.com

BEAVERTON, Ore. — A MAX ticket inspector was recovering after a bizarre attack at TriMet’s Beaverton Central Transit on Sunday evening.

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Assault suspect sought

A 35-year-old man allegedly punched the ticket inspector in the face after the agent began writing up a citation, according to police and another inspector who witnessed the attack.

Bragonia Anderson, who also had an open alcohol container at the time of the incident, told the ticket inspector he “might as well go to jail” if he was going to get a citation, Beaverton police said.

Both men were boarding the train when the attack occurred. They both got off and the inspector continued writing up the ticket after checking Anderson’s identification.

The inspector suffered a broken collar bone after falling to the ground.

Anderson took off after the attack and was sought by police.

He’s described as a black man, about 5′ 11″ and weighing 215 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black T-shirt and gray shorts.

Anyone who knows his whereabouts was urged to contact Beaverton police at (503) 629-0111.

How to get my attention, Controller style…

Control has a way of getting my attention if I don’t pay attention.

When I arrived at work this afternoon, I was asked to take a student, one of several bus drivers who have gone through light rail class and are now just waiting for openings at rail so they can transfer from driving bus to operating the MAX. They all need to spend a few hours every month keeping up their skills at rail.

So, there we were, Mr. B. and I, inside an operator’s cab only slightly bigger than a thimble. It was warm, and we were both complaining too much about how small the stupid cab was for two people.

Mr. B. got into the operator’s seat, and we took off from Beaverton Transit Center with a goal of reaching the Portland Airport sometime later in the afternoon, preferably within 60 or 61 minutes – or whenever… Since Mr. B. had not operated a train for a while, I asked him lots of questions about the train and the alignment.

We arrived at Sunset Transit Center eastbound, our first stop, and to my great surprise there was a RED signal facing us.

Hm…

The last Blue line left Beaverton about 6 minutes ahead of us, so it could not have been the Blue line making that signal RED. And, unless there were ghost trains running about in Beaverton, there were, to my knowledge, no other trains immediately in front of us.

As the more experienced operator, I took over the CALL button which usually magically changes a RED to either a YELLOW or a GREEN, both of which would be a huge improvement over the irritating RED.

No luck. I pushed, looked up and still saw RED. Both literally and figuratively.

I repeated the procedure, but had no better luck.

Thus, I picked up the radio and called Control, giving him our train number.

Control: “Welcome back”.

Me: “Huh?” I knew I had not gone anywhere – other than where I was supposed to go, anyway…

Me: “We have a RED here at Sunset…. Why?”

Control: “Because I could not reach you.”

Me: “Eh… Sorry…”

Control: “Yes, I need to tell you that there are workers in the tunnel.”

He went on to tell us where in the tunnel we would find these poor people. (The goal here is not to run them over, nor do we want to fly past them at 55 mph which is truly scary inside the tunnel… 35 mph or even slower is more like it.)

Me: “Copy, workers in the tunnel, we will watch out for them.”

Control: “Good, now call your signal and be on your way!”

I apologized again, called the signal and we got a pretty GREEN, which was a huge improvement from the annoying RED.

I still do not know why we did not hear Control trying to reach us. However, it is good to know that the Controller had a great way to get our attention: a RED signal certainly did the job. The Controller basically locked us out – cool, now that I think of it. I learned something new! Yeah! This gal is still not too old to learn…

Once in a seldom while it is hard to hear the radio because of noise around us; sometimes we are asked by Control to hold up our hand held radio and wave it as we pass an oncoming train. The message to the oncoming train is: Control wants you!

Or they can use the RED signal trick. That works, too.

A mechanically challenged train…

I wrote this a few weeks ago; in the hustle and bustle of moving in the middle of February, it got lost in the shuffle…

A few days after my train broke down so beautifully right in front of the east tunnel entrance, another operator had a tough time with his train…

GOOD! I don’t want to be the only operator with train problems…

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Well, it was not MY train yesterday… However, I, and a trainful of rush hour commuters, were in the middle of it anyway. So was every other train behind the offending train that was stuck somewhere near or at the Beaverton Central platform westbound.

The first hint that something was wrong came while I was westbound at the Galleria platform when Control told me to “hold at Kings Hill”; I thought “oh oh – something’s up, but it’ll probably be all over when I get up there.”


Not so. For the next 50 minutes, at the height of rush hour (ugh) I hung out at Kings Hill, using my PA system once in a while to tell my passengers that a train was having mechanical problem in front of us so “it should only be a few moments”….

How many “moments” are there in 50 minutes??? Don’t know, but there are LOTS. Surprisingly, most of my passengers were very patient; I left the doors closed, but on Release, which meant that people could open the doors anytime they wanted off.

What do I do when I sit around like this?

I count the stones on the roadway in front of me… I get on the PA system and tell people “it should only be a few more moments”… I call somebody… I get on the PA system and tell people “only a few more moments – thanks for your patience”…

Listening to the controller and the poor operator who was dealing with some serious brake problems, I finally decided that this would take a LOT longer than just a few “moments” – thus, I kept up the activities in my cab:

…taking interesting pictures of small areas of my cab… making sure I have signed the ATS and Trip log… calling somebody… using the PA system… twiddling my thumbs…

…I also smile at those getting off the train because they no longer believe my “moments” story…

…I stare at the clouds and marvel at the formations…

…I talk with people coming to my door and still tell them ” only a few more moments and we should be on our way…”

…they don’t believe me, but, bless their hearts, they do not get too angry… a few more people get off, and I see them calling a husband, a wife, son, daughter, boyfriend for a ride… (I can read the words on their mouths: “So much for our great Max system”, and I think, yeah, I know – - I need a bathroom…)

After what seemed like an eternity (yeah, 50 minutes can be SO long…) my train, my passengers and I were FINALLY able to move up to Goose Hollow, where, after only a couple of minutes wait, we got a GREEN signal clearing us up to Washington Park – I was delighted. (Some days, it does not take much to make me happy.)

At WaZoo, I was told to make my way UP the hill, through the tunnel, on to Sunset Transit Center.

Coming into Sunset, I already knew we needed to do some “creative train movement” – we were a Blue Line, yet, there was no way we could go past that broken down train. That creativity consisted of going into the pocket track (the middle track) at Beaverton Transit Center where the Red Line normally lays over. This is, indeed, a “creative” and unusual move for a BLUE LINE.

Going down the hill from Sunset, I told my rush hour load of passengers that buses would take them from Beaverton Transit Center to some point beyond the problem train. Arriveing at BTC, I counted at least four buses waiting to welcome my passenger on board.

People ran across the track crossway to the waiting buses; I ran across the same walkway to get my much needed comfort break.

After a “comfort break” I was on my way back to Gresham.

On my way to Gresham, I get more information about the broken down train (I love our open air radio!); no matter how much Control, the operator and the supervisor try, the train will not budge. One of the brakes were hanging up, something that normally can be dealt with by “pumping off the brake”, disabling that particular brake. This time, no such luck. A couple of mechanics from the Elmonica yard finally came out and did their magic, enabling the train to limp back to the yard.

When a brake is “pumped off”, the train must be taken out of service since it no longer has all it’s brakes functioning. It would probably be safe without one brake, but since one TriMet employee has to sit by the pumped off brake mechanism inside the train, and the train must stay below 30 mph, passengers are not allowed on board.