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Snowstorm Slows Portland; TriMet Keeps Going

 Public transit agencies in various parts of the U.S. are dealing with snow, ice, flooding and other severe weather by adapting routes, providing information to potential riders and keeping service going as long as they can.

Portland, OR, received nine inches of snow the morning of Jan. 11 and the snowfall continued, but the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) managed to maintain operations on its buses (with some route changes) and MAX light rail.

Public transit consultant Jarrett Walker used his blog (Human Transit) to describe the agency’s efforts to continue service. “I got to the airport [by bus and light rail] in about 1.2 times the usual travel time, faster than would have been possible by any other mode of transport,” he said.

But snow wasn’t the only weather-related emergency affecting transit agencies; flooding in California and western states also took a toll.

In Reno, NV, for example, storm-related flooding damaged a Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC) construction site. RTC deployed drones to determine if the floodwater made contact with a berm protecting mercury-contaminated soil. One of the 12 stockpiles appears to have had a partial failure, agency officials said, but RTC cannot determine the extent of possible contact until the floodwater recedes.

In anticipation of more severe weather on the way, public transit agencies in the Midwest, including RideKC in Kansas City, MO, and IndyGo in Indianapolis, are preparing with additional staff and pre-treatment of roads. RideKC service, operated by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, provides real-time bus information and service changes for desktop computers and smartphones and the agency also will provide two warming buses in downtown Kansas City during the storm. IndyGo offers detour and delay information through its customer service phone number and asks passengers and operators alike to take extra precautions.

TriMet kept its buses and light rail operating despite a nine-inch snowfall, as shown in this photo of the agency’s Gateway Transit Center taken by public transit consultant Jarrett Walker.

Photo courtesy of Jarrett Walker, www.humantransit.org

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