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TriMet to reorganize operations to address service reliability issues

Passenger Rail

Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) will reorganize its operations in an effort to improve service, General Manager Neil McFarlane announced yesterday.

Effective Nov. 11, the agency will create two new divisions, one for operations and one for transportation, according to a press release and staff memo posted on the TriMet's website.

The announcement comes a week after the agency issued a public apology for signal and switch problems on downtown Portland's century-old Steel Bridge that led to service delays on the MAX light-rail system. Agency officials also announced last week a plan to invest $2.5 million in track and switch improvements throughout the system, and $585,000 in federal grant dollars to improve signals, gate mechanisms and other electrical systems.

The agency's plan calls for transferring maintenance of bus and rail systems into a division to be led by Tom Nielsen, who will report to the interim deputy general manager, a post currently held by Bob Nelson. Meanwhile, the position of director of transportation operations, recently vacated through retirement, will not be filled, and the direct responsibilities will be shifted to Shelly Lomax, currently the director of operations. Lomax will lead the new transportation division and report to the interim deputy GM.

"We are growing the transit system at the same time we're managing an aging system," said McFarlane. "This requires us to be even more focused on our vehicle and track system to deliver more reliable service to our riders.

McFarlane noted that parts of the MAX system are nearly 30 years old and in need of increased investment to better maintain a state of good repair. The recent disruptions caused by aging infrastructure demonstrate a need for more focus on the maintenance of trains, signals and switches, he said.


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