TriMet users happy with service, but concerned about safety - KPTV - FOX 12

TriMet users happy with service, but concerned about safety

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

When it comes to reliability and overall approval, a new survey shows TriMet scored a gold star among those who regularly use the service – but there is one big caveat: half of poll respondents believe TriMet needs more security. 

The results, part of TriMet’s annual Attitude and Awareness survey, were released Wednesday. 

Surveyors polled 800 people in November and added new questions about safety and security.  

Overall, three out of four residents polled in the survey had a favorable opinion of TriMet, however, approval ratings were higher among those who ride TriMet. Nearly 80 percent of all riders and 86 percent of frequent riders approve of TriMet's performance.

But more survey respondents have said personal safety concerns have stopped them from taking public transportation in recent years – that number is now up 4 percent since 2014.

The findings come just about a month shy of the one-year anniversary of the deadly MAX train stabbings that rocked Portland to its core and made headlines across the nation. 

MAX riders told FOX 12 safety is never far from their minds. 

“Sometimes at night, there’s some hijinks that goes on, you can tell there’s some people high on drugs,” said Fred Foster. “You worry about it because you don’t know what’s going to happen, especially after the things that happened last summer.”

Kelli Clark recently started riding the MAX. She too, was a bit wary of what to expect after the stabbings. 

“It kind of freaks me out a little bit, but everybody seems pretty decent,” Clark said, adding that she fell in love with the service quickly.

“It’s just convenient, it drops me off a block from my job – quicker than traffic,” Clark said.

But riders also report other sometimes unsavory or scary incidents. 

One rider, who didn’t want to be identified, said he and other passengers felt threatened by a man harassing them on the train Tuesday night by the Beaverton Transit Center. 

There were fortunately no injuries, and TriMet confirmed police were called out to deal with the disruptive passenger, but he got away before officers arrived.

TriMet said it’s working to address safety and security concerns. In January, the agency announced it would hire up to sixty more security guards within two years.

So far, they haven’t added any more staff, but spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt said patrolling hours have been increased by about 33 percent.

MAX passengers said they’ve noticed.

“I definitely have noticed a lot more ticket checks at the common places,” Demi Darnell said. “It makes me feel a bit safer.”

Foster agrees.

“They’re doing better than they did. There’s more security on trains,” Foster said. 

The survey also found the number of people using TriMet went up in 2017 compared to 2016; however, riders may be making fewer trips as the number of frequent riders has gone down.

When asked why riders were riding less, nearly a quarter of riders mentioned lifestyle reasons (fewer trips, retirement and/or telecommuting) and about four in 10 said they used ride sharing to some degree.

More than 80 percent of responders said TriMet operational and system improvements have increased the on-time performance of both buses and MAX trains.

The approval of the safe operation of TriMet buses rose 1 percent, yet MAX safe operation dropped 5 percent.

Eighty-six percent of all those surveyed viewed TriMet as a good value and the survey showed high awareness of TriMet projects and initiatives, including the low-income fare program launching in July. Forty-five percent of riders expressed interest in the program which will allow adults at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level to be eligible for TriMet's discounted fare.

The top transportation concern was traffic congestion followed by road repair and maintenance.

DHM, a Portland-based research firm, conducted the annual telephone survey of 800 residents in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties in November 2017. 

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