TriMet riders will once again be able to pay their fare on buses using cash beginning Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. TriMet suspended cash fares on buses on March 26, 2020. This was done for the safety of our bus operators and riders, to limit the time they are close to each other while boarding the bus during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that TriMet has a number of safety measures in place—a mask requirement, on-board limits and physical distancing, hand sanitizer dispensers and soon a safety panel next to the operator’s seat on all our buses—we will once again accept cash on buses starting October 1. However, we encourage riders to continue paying using the Hop Fastpass® for both safety and ease.
The cash farebox is within a foot or two of the bus operator. Riders paying their fare with cash often take longer to slip dollar bills and coins into the farebox. In the early days of the pandemic as COVID-19 began spreading in our community, TriMet took a number of steps to reduce the time riders spent close to bus operators and each other. One of those steps was covering up the farebox in late March and helping riders transition to Hop, our contactless electronic fare system, to pay for their ride.
The move to suspend cash payments came suddenly to help keep people safe, so TriMet gave out more than 3,000 free Hop cards to help riders adjust. Hop cards normally cost $3 a piece, and users load them with value using cash or a credit/debit card online, over the phone or at some 500 local retail outlets.
By the end of September, TriMet expects that all of our buses will have panels made of safety glass in place next to the operator’s seat. The panels help block airborne droplets, which health experts now believe to be the main way COVID-19 spreads. Before March 2020, more than half of our buses already had the operator safety panels as a security measure. We had been planning to add the panels on the remaining buses over time, but in April, TriMet General Manager Doug Kelsey approved buying 372 panels and installing them immediately. We’ve added more than 200 of those to buses and will install the rest over the next month so that all buses in service have an operator safety panel.