New buses, other improvements intended to improve service between Portland and Gresham.

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - A new TriMet 60-foot articulated bus is seen on the road during the grand opening.A grand opening celebration was held Saturday, Sept. 17, 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, Sept. 18. However, as part of the grand opening celebration, free rides on the new bendy buses were offered until 6 p.m. Saturday.

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 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.

COURTESY PHOTO: TRIMET - TriMet General Manager Sam Desue Jr. adjusts the microphone for FTA Region 10 Administrator, Linda Gherke during the FX2-Divison Grand Opening Celebration on Saturday, Sept. 17.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 Dec. 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 in federal funding and also was funded by state, regional, local and contributions.

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Pamplin Media Group.

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