PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — TriMet is looking ahead to 2023, along with the new features, staff and operations it will offer Portland riders.

The public transit service listed the improvements that passengers can look forward to on Wednesday morning. These include, but aren’t limited to, a new Forward Together service concept, electric buses and additional frontline staff.

The Forward Together service concept was updated so TriMet could learn how to better accommodate riders whose transportation was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to TriMet spokesperson Tia York, TriMet leaders formed the concept after analyzing what has and hasn’t worked for the bus service. Then, the public was asked to weigh in on the potential changes to TriMet.

Overall, the public response led to the agency’s new plan to increase bus service by more than 30% in the next few years by extending weekend hours, the frequency of bus rides and adding more bus lines.

TriMet is looking to reduce its carbon footprint, as well. In April, the agency’s Board of Directors passed a resolution to buy 24 battery-electric buses. They will start arriving by next fall.

“The cost is estimated at $26.7 million dollars and represents our largest investment in electric bus technology to date,” Director of Communications Roberta Alstadt said. “This is a critical milestone to transitioning to a zero-emissions bus fleet by 2040.”

TriMet is also working toward hiring and retaining frontline staff members, with bus operators being the top priority.

Starting on Dec. 1, new operators received a higher starting hourly wage of $27.13 and all operators had a 7.5% wage increase. Next year, on Dec. 1, 2023, there will be another 4% increase.

Additionally, TriMet shared a “Year in Review 2022” video to remind staff and riders of the milestones it achieved this year. Watch it here.

“All of us here at TriMet wish you and yours a safe, happy and healthy holiday! We’re looking forward to moving you — and our region – in 2023,” York said.