TriMet Suspends All Bus and MAX Service Due to Hazardous Weather Conditions

A complete suspension of service is rare for the transit agency, even in inclement conditions.

A TriMet bus in the snow on February 12, 2021. IMAGE: Chris Nesseth.

TriMet has canceled all service until further notice due to hazardous weather conditions.

The suspension includes all bus lines and MAX trains, as well as the Portland Streetcar and LIFT Paratransit, its ride share service for the disabled.

The transit agency made the announcement through its social media channels shortly before 5 am this morning and encouraged customers to travel only in case of emergency.

The Portland metro area is currently blanketed in 6 to 10 inches of snow, depending on the location, and has also experienced bouts of freezing rain.

Related: More Snow Is Coming to Portland Tonight.

But suspension of service is rare for TriMet even in inclement conditions: Buses are equipped with drop-down chains, which often slow service as the vehicles cannot travel more than 25 miles per hour. And during snowstorms, the agency will often continue to run MAX trains through the night to keep the tracks clear of ice.

But the amount of freezing rain that fell last night encased the trains' overhead wires in ice, making it impossible for them to run, according to TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt. Now, the tracks in downtown Portland are "packed with ice and snow," she says, and need to be plowed.

Similarly, the streets are icy enough that buses cannot get enough traction to move, even with chains.

Altstadt says she can't recall a time in her 10 years with the agency that service has been fully suspended. She's been told that last night's weather system, which alternated between snow and freezing rain, made road conditions particularly treacherous.

"We've had worse storms in the Portland area," she says, "but to have it happen at once, going back and forth, is really challenging."

A winter storm warning from the National Weather Service remains in effect for the Portland area until 4 pm this afternoon.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.