TriMet bus driver says employees unequipped and unprepared for winter weather

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 6:33 PM PST
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - A bus driver for TriMet is talking to FOX 12 and claims drivers aren’t equipped for winter weather, and something needs to change.

The employee says drivers for the transit agency were very unprepared for last week’s harsh winter weather. TriMet is also giving us a response about this driver’s concerns.

Speaking to FOX 12 anonymously for fear of being punished, the bus driver claims chaos could’ve been avoided. They say many of their colleagues were left stranded on metro area roads last week.

“We weren’t really told anything ahead of time, ahead of the winter weather, other than winter weather was coming and to be safe out there,” the bus driver says. “They were completely caught off guard.”

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The driver showed us winter safety information all TriMet bus drivers have access to, but the driver claims TriMet bus drivers don’t receive hands-on training for winter-weather safety, such as deploying drop-down chains, which TriMet says are temporary chains that can automatically attach to the busses’ tires at the touch of a button during the early hours of snowfall until drivers can make it to a transit center to put on heavy-duty chains when conditions get worse.

“There is a switch in the back that has to be turned on in order to for the chains to work. Most of the time those are deactivated because TriMet doesn’t want their drivers out there using those because they don’t really train you on them,” the driver says.

According to a TriMet spokesperson, new drivers receive classroom training on winter weather safety including drop-down chains and 95% of TriMet busses have these chains available. But during last Wednesday’s storm, a TriMet spokesperson says there were 15 older busses on the roads that do not have the drop-down chains.  A statement from trimet regarding the use of drop-down chains during last week’s storm reads in part:

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During last Wednesday’s event, the snow fell much heavier than was expected, and we experienced rapidly deteriorating conditions, which reduced the window of time in which drop chains would have been effective.

But for the driver we spoke with, they tell us TriMet needs to do more to make sure drivers are better prepared.

“A majority of us, especially the new ones, new drivers, have never driven anything bigger than a minivan let alone in winter weather, and here you are with a 40-foot bus with 30 people inside saying, ‘hey keep it safe and keep it on the road’ with little to no preparation.”