Radio chatter during weekend storm reveals TriMet uncertainty - KPTV - FOX 12

Radio chatter during weekend storm reveals TriMet uncertainty

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Radio communications released by TriMet Thursday reveal uncertainty by train operators and controllers trying to navigate areas of downtown Portland inundated by heavy rains on Halloween.

An order emanating from TriMet’s Command Center instructed operators to slow down to 10 miles an hour and clears them to proceed through standing water, but also instructs them to use their best judgment.

In several instances, controllers repeated the order to proceed to operators leery of deep standing water. 

According to TriMet, shortly after 4:00 pm, a Max train encountered deep standing water under the Morrison Bridge, and proceeded as instructed.  The train’s cars flooded, and passengers scrambled to avoid the water rushing in.

A few minutes later, a supervisor arrived and made the call for other trains to avoid the area.

At the end of the day, a total of 13 Max trains suffered some kind of water damage.

In a statement released this week, TriMet acknowledged that “an error in judgment was made” to advance the train, but also said “we categorically deny that TriMet management ordered an operator to proceed through the flooded area.

The agency is investigating the incident.

Shirley Block, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, which represents the train operators, believes TriMet put operators and passengers at risk, with unclear instructions on how to deal with standing water.

“There was a manager in the room that should have stayed in the room to take care of this,” said Block. “I just think it was unfair to the operators and the controllers.”

Block said TriMet should take responsibility and admit its mistake.

TriMet is working to inspect and repair about a dozen trains damaged by water during the storm. 

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