Saturday, January 19, 2013

Stories from the Sunset car crash

Celebrating... ALL HANDS ON DECK!
Three weeks ago tonight, a speeding motorist lost control near Sunset Transit Center.
His car careened off a cement barrier and hit a tree, which launched it into the air and
onto the MAX tracks, ripping down overhead wires and damaging other equipment. 

The motorist was arrested on multiple counts, including DUII, and owes TriMet more
than $50,000, to cover everything from the bus bridge to overhead repairs to crane
rental. It was a horrible incident that triggered massive service disruptions. But it was
also a huge opportunity for teamwork! Employees and customers alike report that the
response was highly coordinated, which made a big difference for riders.

The right place at the right time
Wednesday night, November 14, I was actually driving home on Hwy 26
westbound after completing a 3-11 p.m. shift. As I came up on the 217 split
I noticed a train ‘parked’ (headlights and cyclops light off) on the westbound
tracks by the Prudential building. I’m thinking to myself that this is a
very odd place for a train to be parked. Then I looked over at Sunset
TC and noticed there were 4-5 police cars.

I get to wondering if my help is needed, since staffi ng is so thin at
this time of night. I pull off to the shoulder and turn my company radio back
on in time to hear the instructions, “all non-emergency traffi c off the air.” I call
the Controller to see what is going on and to see if they need help. Yes they
do, she says, so I tell her I’ll get my car spun around and get to Sunset ASAP.
I arrived at Sunset at the same time as Brad Hanson. (He was the CBD Rail
Supervisor on duty.) We walked down to the platform to assess the situation.
Westside Rail Supervisor Ray Carroll was the Incident
Commander and did a good job of managing
resources and keeping Control informed of
updates. He was open to suggestions from
other supervisors on scene and things
fl owed as smoothly as possible with
the available resources. Control did
a great job of fi elding all of the
non-stop radio calls coming
at them all at once, all while
maintaining their composure and
professionalism over the air.
—David Clayton, Rail Supervisor

Here’s a taste of what our
customers were saying on the
day of the disruption:
“Most employees are great,
even though they are met with
lots of grumpy passengers.”
“For as chaotic as it was, it did
go smoothly. There was a little
confusion, but minor.”

“Thank you, TriMet, for your fast actions on November 14 in helping MAX
riders. I would have been late to work otherwise. I appreciate
everyone who worked to organize shuttle buses and communication.”
“A high-fi ve for the amazing job you did when the idiot crashed his car.”
“TriMet offi cials in yellow vests were readily available with accurate and clear
instructions, and my commute suffered far less than I ever would
have imagined. I only lost15 minutes round trip.”
“The shuttle driver was great, and so was the man at the MAX stop directing
people to the shuttle stop.”
“We did receive some complaints, but we also received some of the most positive
comments I’ve seen in the aftermath of a disruption. It’s satisfying to see that
customers took the time to let us know they noticed—and appreciated—the
efforts our employees made.”  —Ed Rosney, manager of customer service

Distributed with 12/5/12 paychecks. Flier feedback? Jessica Bucciarelli: or 503-962-5851.
more  on TriNET!
Comments from Rail Transportation,
Field Operations, Maintenance of Way,
Customer Service and other workgroups.
Plus more customer commendations, and
a great story from David Clayton.
Type “celebrating” in the
search box to fi nd this
bonus material.

Teamwork and camaraderie

In all my years of doing bus bridges in adverse conditions, this is one of the worst  events I’ve dealt with. We had full platforms almost all day. I’d load up a bus and look back and see five or six hundred people waiting on the platform. I only got caught up once or twice. But in the eight hours I was out there, I only had two people get in my face. People at BTC know me. I’m there every morning checking fares. They appreciate how we treat them, how we deal with somebody who hasn’t paid. That’s why they were really helpful during the incident.

They even told one of the guys who gave me grief that I had better things to do than argue with him!
Everybody sees us [Field Operations] out in the fi eld, but what they don’t realize is
everything that goes on behind the scenes. Dispatchers for example—it takes a lot of work to
pull together 30 or 35 buses. And Station Agents play a crucial role.  I called two garages and said, “Send  us any operators you have. We can use them. Yes, it’s urgent.” I know the Rail Operators must have been making announcements, because so many of the customers seemed to understand what was going on. I’m not sure where the Trainers came from or how they knew they were needed, but a couple of them pulled in and asked if they could help.  One operator pulled into BTC and he had an hour to go back to the garage and get to a training class.  I said, ‘You’ve got time to do one trip downtown. Can you do another trip?’ And he did. 

Not one Bus Operator turned me down that entire day. I would love for the operators to know how much appreciation they got from customers. It might not show up as a commendation in your file, but they were saying things like, “Thank you for doing this. I know you’re getting bombarded,” and, “You’re trying really hard. Thanks for keeping us posted.” In my eyes, that’s what made it work: Our teamwork, and the camaraderie with our public.—Myles Vaylon, Road Supervisor

Myles’ November 14 Facebook post about the incident garnered a lot of attention. It read in part, “[This] just goes to show when our city needs to pull together we can. I had a great team to work with, I had Operators, Dispatch, Leads and most of all the very people that I strive to look after on a daily basis I had you today, the commuting public. In all my years of being a Supervisor I have never had so many people shake my hand.”

Getting it done
I’ve been here almost a year, and there have been a number of big incidents—but nothing that involved this level of coordination and cooperation. Everybody just went into getting-it-done mode. One of the things that stands out for me is being down in the right of way watching our MOW crews in action. They were up there in buckets, stringing wire and fi xing poles, really making quick work of it. It was also really something to be at Sunset when service was restored. 

They brought the test train through, and just a few minutes later an in-service train arrived.
When I wasn’t talking to media or behind the scenes, I was basically functioning like a Ride Guide. When they heard the story of the incident, people were really understanding. And they were really glad that we were sending a bill to the motorist who caused the damage.

The motorist’s financial responsibility was one of the points I emphasized to the media as well. I also talked about how much TriMet appreciated our customers’ patience, and the great job that our maintenance folks did a great job getting the system fixed and tested so we could safely provide MAX service to our riders hours earlier than was expected. —Roberta Altstadt, Public Information Officer

Celebrating...ALL HANDS ON DECK!
This is the last paycheck fl ier of 2012. Watch for an HR Manual update in your pay envelope 12/19/12, and new ‘Celebrating the People of TriMet’ stories 1/2/13.
in the search box
on TriNET to fi nd lots
more BMW-in-ROW
stories on the
paycheck fl ier

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