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Portland’s WES marks first year in service

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TriMet WES Commuter Rail line marks its first year in service on February 2. Oregon's first commuter rail line connects the Portland suburban cities of Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville with weekday rush hour service.

During the first year on-time
performance was 97 percent; daily ridership averaged 1,170 trips; weekly trips
averaged 5,850; bike securement on WES trains was expanded from two bikes to
six bikes, on top of the 78 secure bike parking spaces added at the five
stations; final cost of the project was $161.2 million.

TriMet received its $3
million Letter of Credit from Key Bank that was used to secure the performance
of Colorado Railcar’s contract to manufacture the WES vehicles. After
reconciling the total costs of the project after completion, the final cost was
reduced by $5 million to $161.2 million.

WES riders were surveyed
over the summer to get feedback on the new service:

• Riders said the best
feature was the fast travel time, followed by the comfortable ride and friendly
staff. The trip along the 14.7-mile route between Beaverton and Wilsonville
takes 27 minutes.

• 90 percent of the trips
on WES were made by frequent and regular users of the system.

• 42 percent of WES trips
were made by people who previously drove a car to their destination.

TriMet is refurbishing two
vintage rail cars to be used as spares, with work expected to be completed this
summer. This will provide seamless service when a WES diesel multiple unit
(DMU) requires additional maintenance.

Work is under way to create
a quiet zone in Tualatin between Tonquin Road and SW 95th Avenue that would
mean that no WES or freight train horns would sound when a train is present,
unless the train engineer sees a safety concern.

Three intersections will be
upgraded from two-quadrant gates to four-quadrant gates that will stop all
vehicular traffic movement when a train is present. This quiet zone treatment
covers about 2.4 miles of the alignment and will be added at Tonquin Road,
Avery Street and Teton.

A concrete median barrier
will be installed at SW 95th Avenue to prevent vehicles from driving around a
crossing gate. This treatment also means that WES and freight trains will not
have to sound horns at this crossing.

Wayside horns will be
installed at four crossings north of SW 95th Avenue. These horns are stationary
and located at a crossing to provide audible warnings to motorists and
pedestrians. This reduces the noise impact as it eliminates the requirement of
a horn to sound about a quarter mile from a crossing. This treatment will cover
about one mile between 95th Avenue and Tualatin Road.

Construction on the quiet
zone and installation of the wayside horns is set to begin in July and be completed
by the end of the year. The cost is $3 million, with funding provided by
federal stimulus funds from TriMet and Metro, Tualatin MSTIP funds and
Washington County.

TriMet is launching a
marketing campaign to promote WES. Ridership is not growing as quickly as
projected due to the region’s double-digit unemployment rate and the loss of
55,000 jobs. TriMet is targeting employees who work near WES stations with
connections to bus and MAX.