TriMet: Consistently Disappointing?

Articles about TriMet are pretty common in the Oregonian newspaper. For the most part they aren’t particularly flattering: TriMet driver runs over five pedestrians and kills three; TriMet driver watches as a passenger briefly gets off the bus to punch a bicyclist; TriMet shuts down part of a bus route without any notification to riders; TriMet raises prices and cuts back schedules; and so on.

TriMet defends itself as best it can, and yes, the transit agency has been undergoing a top-to-bottom safety review to try to increase safety and awareness. Still, it sure seems like there is more bad news than good. A recent column by the Oregonian’s Joseph Rose illustrates one of these bad incidents. A TriMet driver got stuck in a turn in a crowded intersection. The culprit was an illegally parked vehicle that made the turn tricky. With assistance from a passenger, the driver successfully maneuvered the bus around the turn, and the only casualty was a parked car that was scraped five times in the process. The scraped car was legally parked. The driver was aware she hit the car but did not leave a note or wait for authorities; instead, she continued on her route.

The driver allegedly reported the incident to TriMet, and a TriMet truck later appeared at the intersection to investigate. By then, however, the scraped car was gone. Also, the driver supposedly said she was unsure she had hit a car, but witnesses saw her get off the bus and look at the damaged vehicle before getting back on the bus and driving away.

TriMet policy states that drivers cannot make turns around illegally parked cars without approval. Drivers must also report any and all scrapes or accidents, and they must remain at the site until released by a supervisor or dispatcher. This particular driver did not seem to follow the rules. Why is TriMet bothering to investigate its safety procedures and implement new rules when some bus drivers don’t seem to care about existing policies and procedures?