Down south in the City of Roses, a city that brands itself as one of the world's most transit-friendly cities, it seems that we love our light rail expansions but not our bus system - the bus system that employs over 1,200 hard working men and women who, like their counterparts up in Seattle, wake up early, drive to the garages (since we don't have 24 hour bus service), strap themselves in the driver's seat of a 40,000 pound brick on wheels, and navigate through the streets of the Portland metro area. The bus system that is the choice of two-thirds of our transit ridership, and that serves every single part of our Metro area. That connects towns like Forest Grove, Troutdale, Sherwood and Estacada, to other towns like Rivergrove, Wood Village, Cornelius and King City. And eventually, to the big cities of Hillsboro, Beaverton, Gresham and of course Portland.
Our bus drivers seem to be hated by all but for no good reason - it isn't their fault that TriMet has chosen to have one of America's oldest, least reliable bus fleets; or that TriMet has pared down bus service over the years to fund their insatiable appetite for rail expansions. It isn't their fault that TriMet reduced service so that more riders are crammed into fewer buses, or that bus stops are often nothing more than a 12 inch by 18 inch piece of sheet metal nailed onto a PGE power pole. It isn't their fault that TriMet can't seem to make sensible financial decisions - all they do is drive the bus. Yet, even with their General Manager Neil McFarlane even professing his hatred of the lowly bus, it's that bus that eventually shows up and takes myself and over 165,000 other citizens to where we need to go each day.
McFarlane might not appreciate what you do, but I sure do. My fellow riders do. The General Manager could be gone one day, and TriMet will work just like any other day. If the Operators don't show up for work, TriMet is as good as nothing. It's those 1,200 Operators who provide the service, and make TriMet what it is - a transit system.
Thank you, to each and every one of TriMet's bus Operators. Today, tomorrow, and each day that you're on the road for me.
Thank you, TriMet Operators | OregonLive.com