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

STAFF FILE PHOTO - Washington County's popular Line 57 converts to 24-hours starting Sept. 2.Get ready, Washington County. TriMet is preparing to launch the largest service expansion in its history, included changes to Hillsboro and Forest Grove bus lines.

Last year, TriMet announced it was considering expanding Line 57 — which stretches from Forest Grove to the Beaverton Transit Center — to 24 hours per day.

After reducing service because of declining revenues during the Great Recession, the regional transit agency is preparing to increase service on numerous routes starting Sept. 2.

The expanded services are funded in part by an increase in the agency's payroll tax, approved by TriMet's 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 agency wide, as well as nearly 700 more weekly bus trips, better frequency or more capacity on 13 bus lines, and additional trips on its busiest MAX lines.

TriMet's 24-hour bus service hasn't been seen in the Portland area for more than 30 years.

Line 57, along with TriMet's Line 20 — which runs between the Beaverton Transit Center and the Gresham Central Transit Center — will form an all-day, seven-days-a-week, 45-mile bus connection between Forest Grove and Gresham, TriMet officials said.

"That's part of a broader look at creating an all-night network across the area," TriMet planner Grant O'Connell told Pamplin Media Group last fall.

Buses are a regular sight throughout much of the day along Highway 8. Line 57 currently operates 22 hours per day on weekdays. The line runs about two to four times per hour, depending on the time of day.

"It has been more than 30 years, and really, we are just trying to keep up with the shift work and changing economy and growth patterns and travel patterns," Tia York, a TriMet spokeswoman, said in March. "In the past, as the need decreased, we stopped offering that 24-hour service. But once again, we see a need that can be fulfilled here."

The two routes closely mirror the MAX Blue Line, allowing TriMet to offer 24-hour service without changing light rail schedules. Most late-night lines wrap up around 2 a.m. and don't begin service until 4 a.m.

"We hear often that folks would like us to do that, and we recognize that," O'Connell said. "But having the two hours at night to get in and do maintenance is really critical."

Other highlights include splitting Line 4 into two routes to 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. Line 24 will extend to downtown Portland, where it will connect with MAX Blue and Red line service.

All-night bus service will be added to Portland International Airport. The new route will connect to Burnside Street at 82nd Avenue, where riders can transfer to the proposed overnight service on Line 20. It will also serve all stops on 82nd between Burnside and Killingsworth.

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