TriMet prepared to suspend service downtown due to inauguration - KPTV - FOX 12

TriMet prepared to suspend service downtown due to inauguration protests

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TriMet is prepared to suspend service in downtown Portland on Friday afternoon due to the planned protests for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.  

The agency announced the plan Thursday morning, citing "safety concerns" surrounding the protests. However, by 2:30 p.m. Thursday, TriMet released another statement saying the agency planned to provide service into and out of downtown Portland during Friday's protests. 

"TriMet appreciates the support of the Portland Police Bureau, under the direction of Portland Mayor Wheeler, who have committed to assisting in keeping our transit system moving.  However, if protests become violent and unsafe for our employees and riders, we will alter our service and may temporarily suspend it in the downtown core," according to TriMet's afternoon statement. 

Harry Saporta, TriMet executive director of safety and security, said the agency's response would depend on how the protests unfold.

He said there is no specific timetable for altering, and potentially suspending, service.

"We just want to take a little bit of a precaution here," he said. "It's for the safety of our employees and the safety of our customers."

On Wednesday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Mike Marshman addressed the city's preparations for the protests. Wheeler said police would do their best to prevent protesters from blocking public transportation.

After TriMet's initial announcement about suspending service, Wheeler issued a series of tweets. One said, "TriMet, an independent entity, makes their own decisions regarding their operations. They made this decision without my input."

Wheeler then wrote that he contacted TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane.

"I told him we are well-prepared to minimize disruptions and protect riders," Wheeler tweeted. 

Saporta said protesters in November surrounded buses, pounded on the windows and harassed drivers and riders. 

"We tried to maintain service, it didn't work," he said. 

Thousands of people protested nightly in the streets of Portland following Trump's election in November, leading to a riot, property damage and more than 100 arrests.

The group Portland's Resistance is organizing a protest in downtown Portland on Friday afternoon. Marshman said police have reached out to protest organizers, but have not received "helpful" responses.

A women's march is planned for Saturday. That rally received a permit from the city and organizers released the 44-block march route that will begin at the Morrison Bridge downtown.

TriMet does not plan to alter service Friday in any other areas outside the downtown core. People traveling downtown Friday afternoon were asked to plan ahead, leave early and possibly make alternate travel arrangements. 

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