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Friday, November 14, 2014

Trimet chain fiasco-'snowvember'

Very reliable sources tell me that Trimet never intended to chain up the buses that already had the insta-chains .
The rumor is that Roberta Alsdadt   told the Oregonian that all the buses would be chained so the order was changed to accommodate what Alstadt told the Oregonian

From: Employee Communications
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2014 11:33 AM
To: TriMet Employees
Subject: Snow/ice update: Chains coming off

The weather forecast has changed, and TriMet is unchaining the bus fleet. Dispatchers and field supervisors are now directing bus operators to report to the chaining stations at Beaverton TC, Parkrose TC, Clackamas TC and North Terminal—as well as Center, Merlo and Powell garages—where bus mechanics are removing the chains. (We will keep a number of chained buses in each yard, to have ready if needed.) This process will take some time to unfold in the coming hours. Public Affairs (PIO and Customer Information Services) are updating riders, the public and the media. More details below.

Update sent to media 10:30 a.m. 11/13/14:
With the forecast changing and the threat of severe weather downgraded, we will be removing chains from our buses. We had made the decision to chain buses as a safety precaution due to the forecast calling for heavy snow, anywhere from one to seven inches accumulation. It takes about 8-9 hours to chain the bus fleet.

Buses that are in service will meet crews at transit centers and key locations to have chains removed. It takes about five minutes to remove the chains off each bus, and could take more than eight hours to remove all chains. We will be switching TransitTracker for buses back to the standard arrival time predictions once most of the chains are removed, which will likely be before the afternoon commute.

We will have our buses that are equipped with automatic drop down chains strategically deployed. When extra traction is needed, the operator presses a button and the chains drop down and spin under the tires. More than 40 percent of our fleet has the drop down chains. They have proven very effective in icy conditions and in less than six inches of snow. We also have some buses at our garages that will remain chained until they are scheduled to go out for the afternoon commute. If the chains are not needed, crews will quickly take them off before the buses head out.

Heated equipment on MAX trackway and trains is in use to keep the system moving. WES did not experience any delays this morning and MAX continues to have no weather-related issues.

We will continue to monitor conditions and will make adjustments if necessary for safety to either train or bus service. We continue to encourage riders to bundle up and check trimet.org/alerts before they head out. It’s remains cold out there.  

Internal background on decision to install chains:
At 3 p.m. yesterday (Wednesday 11/12/13), EOC personnel met by conference call to discuss the impending weather with our contracted meteorologist to review the possible conditions and scenarios for our transit district. The meeting included designated representatives from all involved disciplines, including REM, MOW, Facilities, Bus Transportation, Rail Transportation, Field Operations, ATP, PIO, Employee Communications and Customer Service. The information provided at that time by NOAA and the National Weather Service called for a Winter Storm Warning with one to seven inches of snow possible for the Portland metro area.

By 7 p.m. Wednesday evening, we reached a decision to use our limited staff at our garages to put traditional chains on our entire fleet in preparation for the arrival of the storm overnight and time for the morning commute. The chaining process can take 8 to 10 hours to implement. Our drop down chains—present on 230 buses--are effective up to about six inches of snow, but the forecast information given to us Wednesday evening predicted the chance of even more snow in the district throughout Thursday.(highly suspicious since I never heard any indication that there would be more than six inches of snow anywhere)

At its 9.a.m briefing today (Thursday 11/13/14), EOC personnel discussed the changing weather predictions—as well as concerns expressed by bus operators and others about the challenges of operating with chains on dry pavement. The decision was made to remove the chains.  



PS We’re hearing some appreciation from riders for our level of preparedness today—like this post on TriMet’s Facebook page. Check the TriNET homepage for more heartwarming comments.

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