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TriMet Again Waives Ticket Fees, But Heat Delays Still Likely

For the second day in a row, TriMet users can expect another day of free rides. The transit agency said it will again waive ticket charges Thursday but riders could see more delays.

Forecasts show Portlanders can expect another day of extreme heat, with temperatures expected to climb into the triple digits again.

That could mean big service delays for TriMet riders.

When temperatures soar above 100 degrees, MAX trains are required to slow down and travel no faster than 35 miles per hour.

“The MAX system is built for average temperatures of Portland,” said Roberta Altstadt, with TriMet’s Public Information Office. “But these temperatures are not average.”

The hot weather coincides with a series of system-wide issues. TriMet is continuing to recover from a computer malfunction that caused delays and network outages. The problem started after a routine upgrade turned up a faulty piece of hardware.

“Most of our functions have been restored and are no longer impacting our service,” Altstadt said. “We definitely want to apologize to riders for the delays it has caused.”

In an emailed update, TriMet said the phone system at the LIFT paratransit offices is still out. Because of that, LIFT will again only provide life-sustaining trips on Thursday.

TriMet said if temperatures reach 105 degrees as forecasted, the WES commuter rail will also be suspended. The agency will provide shuttle service for riders.

High temperatures do more than inconvenience riders, they also puts station equipment at risk. Extreme heat can cause the overhead copper wire to droop, and can even deform the steel rail tracks.

“This heat is very extreme for us,” Altstadt said. “Whether it’s heavy rail or light rail, there are heat limits. And whether it’s here in Portland or in Phoenix, Arizona, when you hit that limit you do have to run slower.”

In southwest Washington, transit company C-TRAN said their bus lines have not been impacted by the heat.

“We don’t have light rail, that’s the big way we’re different than TriMet,” said Christine Selk, the communication and public affairs manager for C-TRAN. “If we did, we’d be facing the same heat obstacles.” 

Selk added more people are taking longer rides to enjoy the air conditioning on the bus and stay cool.

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