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Transit Briefs: TriMet, Sound Transit, UTA, CTDOT

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
TriMet’s Gateway North MAX Station, the first new station in nine years, is set to open March 4 as part of the “A Better Red” MAX Extension and Reliability Improvements Project. (TriMet Photograph)

TriMet’s Gateway North MAX Station, the first new station in nine years, is set to open March 4 as part of the “A Better Red” MAX Extension and Reliability Improvements Project. (TriMet Photograph)

Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) readies for phase two completion of its “A Better Red” MAX Extension and Reliability Improvements Project. Also, Sound Transit announces the Link 2 Line launch date for service between South Bellevue and Redmond, Wash.; Utah Transit Authority’s (UTA) ReConnect program helps “keep people moving” during unplanned service interruptions; and Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) renews the Transit app premium subscription for public transportation riders statewide.


TriMet on March 4 will complete the second phase of its three-phase A Better Red project, which kicked off in fall 2021. The full project will extend the MAX Red Line west to Hillsboro, serving 10 more stations, and improve train movement through the Gateway Transit Center—where the MAX Blue, Green and Red lines meet—and at Portland International Airport (PDX). Nearly 90% complete, the project will wrap up this summer, providing riders with a one-seat trip between Fair Complex, near Hillsboro Airport, and PDX (see video above).

According to the transit agency’s Feb. 15 report, crews have been working around the clock for the past three weeks to finish construction just north of the Gateway Transit Center. Currently, MAX Blue and Green line service is disrupted. MAX Red Line service is temporarily suspended, and shuttle buses are serving all closed stations. The six-week disruption, which ends March 4, “is an investment of time and resources necessary to complete multiple improvement projects at the same time, preventing the need to disrupt service in the future to do this work,” TriMet said.

The Gateway Transit Center is both growing and becoming more efficient to meet the needs of the MAX system, which has quadrupled in size since it and the transit center opened in 1986, according to TriMet. The centerpiece of the transit center’s expansion will be the new Gateway North MAX Station, which will open March 4. While this will be its own separate station, it will also be part of the larger transit center, connected via a pedestrian pathway. In-bound only, the Gateway North MAX Station will be the first new MAX station in nine years.  

The station’s structures are mostly in place, according to TriMet. Hop readers, ticket machines, lighting and shelter glass will be installed over the next couple of weeks, it said. That’s also when crews will put the finishing touches on the concrete pathway, which will allow riders to easily make their connections.

According TriMet, track work at the Gateway Transit Center is nearly complete, with most of the remaining work involving tying it into the existing system. These improvements, along with the extended MAX Red Line that will be completed this summer, will improve reliability and allow TriMet to add capacity.

On the west side, work continues on making the Fair Complex/Hillsboro Airport the new MAX Red Line terminus. Crews are finishing a new pedestrian crossing, along with a signals and communications room, both of which are on track to finish by the end of March.

In summer 2023, crews added a second track near PDX and rebuilt the MAX station there. These enhancements opened in October, following 126 days of construction. 

Sound Transit

The initial 6.5-mile, eight-station segment of the Link 2 Line will launch between Bellevue and Redmond, Wash., on April 27, according to Sound Transit (see video above and map below).

Opening day will be celebrated with a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony at Bellevue Downtown Station, with light rail service beginning at approximately 11 a.m., the agency said during the Feb. 15 announcement.

Two-car trains will run every 10 minutes, 16 hours per day, and will connect with the regional transit network at South Bellevue, Bellevue Downtown and Redmond Technology stations. For more details, click here.

The full 2 Line is expected to open in 2025. Completion of the 1-90 segment of East Link was delayed by quality issues, which are currently being corrected, according to Sound Transit. When completed, the I-90 segment will add the Mercer Island and Judkins Park stations to the 2 Line and connect to the 1 Line at the International District/Chinatown Station in downtown Seattle. The Downtown Redmond Link Extension is also scheduled to open in 2025, with the Marymoor Village and Downtown Redmond stations completing the 2 Line.

“With the opening of the 2 Line on the Eastside this spring, and our major expansion into Snohomish County this fall, we’re bringing the convenience of light rail to hundreds of thousands more people across the region,” said King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair Dow Constantine. “That means more people will be able to use Link light rail to skip the traffic and parking hassles and get to school, work, games, concerts and more, inexpensively and on time, every time.”

“The opening of the 2 Line on the Eastside took the vision, creativity and tireless work of many people to make good on the promise we made to voters in 2008,” Sound Transit Board Member and King County Council Member Claudia Balducci added.

“The 2 Line is the product of the sustained commitment of project partners and community members, and years of hard work by Sound Transit staff and contractors,” said Goran Sparrman, who in January took over as Sound Transit Interim CEO. “Having worked on the East Link project with the city of Bellevue in the planning phase, I’m excited to see the project moving toward opening.”


The Salt Lake Tribune on Feb. 15 reported on UTA’s ReConnect program, which offers passengers a free ride with Uber, Lyft or Yellow Cab Utah when buses, TRAX light rail, FrontRunner commuter rail and other UTA transit services experience unplanned interruptions, due to mechanical issues, blocked rail lines, etc.

Riders can call UTA customer service representatives to determine the best transit option during service interruptions, the newspaper reported. “That could mean a coupon code to purchase a free Uber, Lyft or cab ride, but it could also mean waiting for the next bus—if you’re dealing with a service failure on a 15-minute bus route, for instance,” or using a bus bridge to another train station, the paper noted. When using ReConnect, riders are not typically refunded their fares, it added.  

The service began in summer 2022 and can only be used when the customer service line is open (from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday-Saturday and from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays). According to UTA Director of Innovative Mobility Hal Johnson, UTA is working on a solution to help riders when the hotline is closed.

“We’re just continuing to evolve the program and have it as a tool,” Johnson told The Salt Lake Tribune. “It’s a great backup for us.”


(CTrail Hartford Line Photograph)

CTDOT on Feb. 14 began providing Connecticut residents with another year of Transit Royale, a premium version of the mobile app Transit. The upgrade is free and automatically applied for all current and new frequent users of the Transit app. CTDOT first sponsored a statewide subscription in February 2023, and is one of only two states in the U.S. to upgrade public transportation riders on a statewide level.

The Transit mobile app helps riders plan and track their train and bus trips using schedule information and real-time vehicle locations, where available. In certain parts of Connecticut, riders can also use mobile ticketing in the app. Transit app is free to download and available on iOS and Android.

According to CTDOT, users of the Transit app’s premium version can:

  • Access routes outside of their immediate area without encountering a paywall.
  • Plan trips in advance.
  • Choose a custom avatar and nickname.
  • Select custom themes and icons for locations such as home, work and school.
  • “Compete with fellow riders and move up the leaderboard by sharing real-time bus and train information with other app users, gaining a point for each rider helped.”
  • Toggle on app branding with the CTDOT logo and colors.

In the first year since CDOT provided Transit Royale, there has been a 95% increase in monthly active users (from approximately 39,500 to about 77,000); six new transit district services have been added in the Transit app, including River Valley Transit (RVT), Norwalk Transit District (NTD), Southeast Area Transit District (SEAT), Windham Region Transit District (WRTD), UConn HuskyGO shuttles, and Housatonic Area Regional Transit (HART); and mobile ticketing through Token Transit was introduced in the Transit app for CTtransit branded services, RVT, and WRTD.

Looking ahead, CTDOT said Ridership Happiness Benchmark surveys will be offered quarterly in the app. The first survey is up now until Feb. 20, 2024.

“We’re thrilled to see the increased usage of the Transit app from customers across Connecticut,” CTDOT Bureau Chief of Public Transportation Benjamin Limmer said. “Our partnership with the Transit app enhances the customer experience for tens of thousands of individuals throughout our public transit system by providing transit options and information in a fun and easy format.”

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