PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A grand opening celebration was held Saturday afternoon to launch a new and faster high capacity bus service, TriMet FX.

TriMet FX will “provide faster, more reliable bus trips using longer buses with all-door boarding, streamlined stop locations, next-generation transit signal priority and dedicated bus lanes in key locations,” company officials said.

The first FX line, running between downtown Portland, Southeast Portland, East Portland and Gresham, will begin Sunday. However, as part of the grand opening celebration, free rides on the new bendy buses were offered until 6 p.m. Saturday.

Isaac Williams and his grandmother Carol Ganley were some of the first passengers to take a free ride on the FX 2 Division line.

“This is so exciting. I took a ride on the new TriMet FX line,” he said. “It’s incredible.”

Ganley also liked it.

“It’s very pretty inside. It’s got areas to put your bikes. You don’t have to hang them up in the front. It’s got very wide doors and the seats are comfortable, too,” Ganley told KOIN 6 News. “So, it’s really nice to have something more convenient for people.”

She also said she hopes the new buses encourage more people to use public transit.

The rave reviews came after TriMet held a ceremony at Portland Community College for the grand opening.

General Manager Sam Desue Jr. adjusts the microphone for FTA Region 10 Administrator, Linda Gherke during TriMet’s FX2-Divison Grand Opening Celebration, September 17, 2022 (TriMet)
General Manager Sam Desue Jr. adjusts the microphone for FTA Region 10 Administrator, Linda Gherke during TriMet’s FX2-Divison Grand Opening Celebration, September 17, 2022 (TriMet)

During the presentation, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said the project not only marks a major leap forward in achieving the city’s climate goals but will help increase equity, access and livability for residents.

“Yes, this ultimately is a transportation project,” Wheeler said. “But what it really is is the backbone of the community that we want to see.”

Riders and city leaders alike said they hope the new line will encourage more people to trade in car commutes for the new fast and energy efficient busses.

“We can’t get people out of automobiles until we build the infrastructure so that people can get to where they live, work and play,” Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said.

Ganley is a big fan.

“It’s so much easier, it’s safer, and it’s cheaper than driving. Yeah, I would definitely encourage them.”

This new service has been in the works for years.

Metro, the elected regional government, began planning for the project in 2014 by convening a project steering committee and holding a series of public open houses and meetings. The committee of key stakeholders and community members approved the project plan, formally known as the “Locally Preferred Alternative,” in November 2016.

It was unanimously approved by the cities of Gresham and Portland, the Multnomah County Commission and the TriMet Board of Directors. Metro transferred project leadership to TriMet on December 20, 2016.

TriMet said the 15-mile project will improve bus service in the transit corridor by providing:

  • Longer buses with room for 60% more riders.
  • Multiple-door boarding for briefer stops.
  • Expanded bus stations with amenities such as weather protection.
  • Stations located where rider demand is greatest — minimizing travel times while providing important transit connections.
  • Transit signal priority — traffic signals prioritize bus travel, getting riders to their destinations faster.

The project cost about $175 million and was funded by state, regional, local and federal funding contributions.