Regional transit agency says increased service will provide better connections throughout Portland region.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - TriMet says big service improvements are coming soon.TriMet says it is preparing to launch the largest service expansion in its history.

After reducing service because of declining revenues during the Great Recession, the regional transit agency is now preparing to increase service on numerous routes on Sept. 2. The increases are funded in part with an increase in the agency's payroll tax approved by the Board of Directors and its share of a new statewide payroll tax approved by the 2017 Oregon Legislature.

According to TrIMet, increases will include nearly 1,000 more weekly hours of bus service, nearly 700 more weekly bus trips, better frequency or more capacity on 13 bus lines, and additional trips on its busiest MAX lines.

Among other things, the increases will include the return of 24-hour bus service to the Portland area for the first time in more than 30 years. Combined, Line 57-TV Hwy/Forest Grove and Line 20-Burnside/Stark, will form an all day, every day, 45-mile bus connection between Forest Grove and Gresham. In addition, the early morning service on Line 20 will also create a link to a new Line 272-PDX Night Bus.

Other highlights include:

• Line 4-Division/Fessenden will splits into two routesto help buses stay on time. One route will run between Gresham Transit Center and downtown Portland, and the other between downtown Portland and St. Johns. The lines would share stops in downtown Portland, making transfers easy.

• Line 24-Fremont will extend to downtown Portland, where it will connect with MAX Blue and Red line service.

• Line 79-Clackamas/Oregon City gets a more direct route, which includes a rerouting of Line 79 to 82nd Avenue, I-205 and Washington Street. A new route is also added between Clackamas Town Center and Oregon City Transit Center along Thiessen, Webster, Arlington and McLoughlin.

• All-night bus service to Portland International Airport, one of the region's most popular destinations, where riders need to go day and night. The new route will connect to Burnside Street at 82nd Avenue, where riders can transfer to proposed overnight service on Line 20. It will also serve all stops on 82nd between Burnside and Killingsworth.

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