February 16, 2009
TriMet Welcomes Service on WES Rail
Feb. 2 marked the first day of service for Portland’s Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon commuter rail line, Westside Express Service (WES), which provides weekday rush-hour service on a 14.7-mile route that connects the suburban cities of Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, and Wilsonville. TriMet reported that the line provided 1,900 trips on opening day, about 610 during the morning rush hour and more than twice that number in the afternoon.
Just three days earlier, on Jan. 30, local and regional elected officials and project partners participated in an opening ceremony in Tigard, OR. They boarded special WES trains and traveled along the commuter rail line to the Tigard Transit Center. Guests at the event included Rep. David Wu (D-OR), Washington County Commission Chair Tom Brian, Federal Transit Administration Region 10 Administrator Rick Krochalis, and the mayors of the four cities.
Following the dedication ceremony, WES offered free rides to the public and hosted community celebrations at the five stations on the line.
“WES will provide fast, convenient commuter service to an area that is difficult to serve with traditional bus service,” said TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen. “By utilizing active freight tracks for commuter service we were able to make use of an existing resource while adding a new travel mode for our riders.”
“About 15 years ago, we had a vision of adding a travel option to this crowded and growing corridor, but had few options in front of us,” Brian said. “Using existing freight tracks and building WES is a great story of innovation and collaboration, and now is a great asset to our region.”
TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch described how some riders were trying out WES to see how it will fit into their daily commute routine. “One rider new to transit traveled on our MAX light rail system to Beaverton,” she said, “where he transferred to WES to get to his job at the southern end of the WES alignment [in Wilsonville]. He previously had driven every day to his job. He's very happy and thinks he will save about $200 per month on gas by riding MAX and WES.”
WES is a project of TriMet; Washington County; the Metro planning agency in Portland; Oregon DOT; and the communities of Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, and Wilsonville. It provides the first passenger rail service on this line since 1933.