East Portland

TriMet says 'surge arrester' short caused MAX power outage

TriMet says 'surge arrester' short caused MAX power outage
Commuters board a shuttle bus at the Hollywood MAX station on Monday morning after a power outage knocked out train service.

PORTLAND, Ore. – TriMet said MAX train lines were disrupted early Monday morning after a power outage at some TriMet substations. Meanwhile, another power outage reported Monday evening affected service between the Beaverton Transit Center and Sunset Transit Center.

The Monday morning outage was caused when a "surge arrester" shorted out, according to TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt. She said it is similar to a home surge protector that protects computers, but this one handles higher voltage.

Altstadt said repairs have been made and the surge arrester will be replaced overnight.

Around 8:40 a.m. most MAX service was restored except across the Steel Bridge. At about 7 p.m., trains resumed service over the bridge.

The power outage that affected trains between the Beaverton and Sunset transit centers has also been restored but trains on the west side are returning to their regular schedule.

Altstadt said TriMet is still investigating what caused the outage but said it isn't related to the one that happened near the Steel Bridge.

Shuttle buses served stations during the outages.

When one substation lost power, others kicked in to pick up the load. It appears some of those couldn't handle the extra stress and also failed, Altstadt said.

TriMet said it has never had a massive failure like this because of substation problems. There was a substation failure on Sunday, but it came back up right away as designed and didn't affect light rail service.

The electrical system is 25 years old, although TriMet doesn't think the age played a factor in the failure. They said electrical systems are often upgraded and replaced.

Since the problem on the Steel Bridge wasn't resolved by the evening commute, TriMet said riders could use regular and express bus service across the bridge.

Passengers who spoke with KATU in the morning were frustrated.

"It's crazy, I've never seen nothing like this before," said Bobby McCoy. "Used to take me 30 minutes to get to work, now it's taking me - I'm gonna be late today."

During the outage two trains were stopped away from platforms. TriMet employees helped safely offload passengers from those trains.

Portland Streetcar was also affected, but service was restored at 7:20 a.m.

According to TriMet, it does not expect any problems for Tuesday morning's commute.

It thanked riders for their patience.

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KATU reporters Bob Heye and Valerie Hurst contributed to this report