TRI-MET TRANSIT TERMS TUESDAY #3 “Relief: Operators and Points

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At the TTTT division of Portland’s Role Easy Blog we are here to hit you with the facts… POW! BANG! I’m talking the inside dope, the brain soap, the words and terms that make drivers wiggle and squirm. We give you the brain juice so you can understand those crazy bus drivers and what they are saying. So sit back, bus riding cats and light rail rats and dig the vibe I’m sending your way.

Relief is more than a word, it’s a savior and it’s salvation, it’s a word every driver loves, it’s the best time of the day and it’s our topic for this week.

To day I’m going to do something different for you man, I’m going to make you a bus. That’s right dude you are a bus sitting in the Powell garage bus yard just chill-axing early in the morning when along comes a bus driver. They hop inside you and spoiling your peaceful slumber, they turn on your engines and lights and just like that Bus-man, your new day is starting.

Check the clock, its 4:30 AM! WHAT! that’s right Bus-man you are getting started at 4:30 in the AM and that driver is doing a 12-Sandy/Barbur Blvd. So off you go Bus-man your long day is starting if you like it or not.

That first driver is happy and singing as you make your deadhead to the start of your run. Morning commute is a good bit of work, sleepy people, making their sleepy way into sleepy work. You start your run and time keeps rolling on as it always does.

This driver is not for all day, no way, they can’t take that much rolling. Humans are silly and soft not like you Bus-man. You are all metal and pedals, glass and chairs and you can take it, but that driver is getting tired. 8 hours for the soft and silly operators is a long time but for you this day is just warming up.

It’s 12:30 just past noon and you pull up to 82nd and Sandy.

This is a magical place for bus drivers, it’s the Relief Point. That’s a place where you kick out one soft driver and take on another one. After all it would take too long to drive all the way back to the garage. If the bus can’t get to the driver, than the driver comes to the bus. That’s called a relief point, a place where groovy bus drivers wait to take over a bus.

Guess what else? the bus driver taking over is the relief driver.

Now guess what? This second driver continues on and your work day keeps rolling only this driver is not here for the long hall. Relief comes at different times for different busses, so your new driver has already worked a run, so you are the second half of their day. This means they only roll for a while.

By 4:00 PM the second soft bus operator is done, and it’s now their turn to bail and run. So back to Sandy and 82nd you roll and look there is another operator waiting!  That must be the PM operator, equipped with caffeine drinks and five hour energy shots they are ready to roll.

Out hops one soft driver happy, In hops one soft driver determined. Now it’s time for the evening commute!!! All those sleepy riders from the morning are now tired riders returning from work and school. Standing room only, steaming windows and heavy traffic. Stop! after Stop! after Stop! after Stop!

It’s over soon and then you are rolling free and wild the last part of the night…


Oh look it’s almost midnight and what? your day is over!

No more relief drivers waiting at relief points.

You finish your run then head back to the garage.

Out jumps the PM Operator and in jumps a yard worker, and you thought your day was done. Over to the wash rack where you are cleaned and fueled and prepped for another day. Then when you are cleaned and ready they put you back in the line up. Good night Bus-Man, your day is done.

That’s it dude.

Relief drivers happen because busses often run all day and late into the night, Not always but mostly.

No one is more beloved than your relief driver when you are behind the wheel. Nothing is better than pulling up to your relief point and seeing that driver waiting.

So that’s how it is transit cat’s and light rail rats, relief drivers keep busses and trains rolling all day long, Keep you singing a song, they are all number one.

Now your brain has been embetterated… Ok I’m not sure that’s a word but you know what I mean. You now know the high and the low of the Tri-Met way and “Relief”


Roll Easy by transit freaks and commuting geeks.

Big love from all of us at TTTT department

See you next week… unless I see you first.