A bus for TriMet's new Line 74 service in East Portland at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, March 5, 2018.

A bus for TriMet’s new Line 74 service in East Portland at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, March 5, 2018.

Courtesy of TriMet

TriMet launched three new bus lines and a variety of other service improvements across the Portland metro area on Monday.

The goal: to make it easier for people in the suburbs to get to school and work.

Two new bus lines serve Gresham and East Portland, communities with the highest rates of poverty in the metro area. 

Line 74 runs north-south along 162nd Avenue between SE Powell and NE Airport Way, with transfers to nine other bus lines and the MAX Blue Line. 

It will connect commuters in the eastern suburbs to industrial jobs along the Columbia Corridor. That’s the largest industrial area in the state, with 2,000 businesses.

“To provide those people with a way to access good, living wage jobs is a real win for TriMet, a real win for the community,” said Tia York, with TriMet.

In the past, TriMet hasn’t had a bus running north and south through East Portland, forcing people to take long routes with transfers to travel to jobs, grocery stores and services.

“It could give them back a half an hour to an hour on every weekday,” York says.  

TriMet is making a number of other service, route and schedule changes on the East side. It has added a route, Line 82, to improve service in Eastern Multnomah County, and extended Line 81 to the Troutdale-Reynolds Industrial Park. 

That’s another job hub, home to FedEx and a planned Amazon service center. 

On the West side, TriMet has added Line 42, which runs between the Tigard and Beaverton Transit Centers with stops at the Washington Square Transit Center.

TriMet intends the route to ease congestion on Interstate 217 and to provide service in parts of Beaverton that have lacked it in the past, including the Vose neighborhood. 

“Line 42 is also serving communities of color, and people who are considered low income, providing transportation to places like Washington Square, which is a job center for many service workers,” York says. 

It provides new connections to TriMet bus lines, MAX Blue and Red lines, and commuter rail. TriMet is also increasing service on the Max Red Line, which serves the Portland airport. 

The new bus routes are part of a 10-year commitment TriMet has made to expand service, funded by an increase in the payroll tax paid by employers in its service area.