The return of the bendy bus

Aug 26, 2022

Have you seen those extra-long, bright green buses traveling on Division Street between Portland and Gresham? These are the newest addition to our fleet – 31 60-foot “articulated” buses – and we’ve been testing them and training operators to drive them for our new FX2-Division line, opening Sept. 18. We get asked a lot of questions about how they work and why we chose them for the route. Here’s everything you need to know about these big, bendable buses, which are making a return to our streets after more than 20 years. 

Our history with articulated buses

This isn’t the first time we’ve used articulated buses, also called “bendy” buses. Longtime TriMet riders may remember the old Crown-Ikarus bendable buses we had from 1982 through the 1990s. They were used on select routes but were problematic due to issues in combining American-made parts with the Hungarian-made chassis and body. The old bendys were high-capacity for us at the time (as they could carry a lot more people), but they were also high-maintenance, and were ultimately phased out in 1999.

Bigger and better

The new FX buses are far superior to the old Crown-Ikarus buses in many ways. They’re built by Nova Bus, a division of Volvo Group, at its facility in Plattsburgh, New York. They’re 60 feet long, the same as the old Crown-Ikarus buses, but that’s where the similarities end.

The new buses are larger than the previous generation of bendy buses, with capacity for 115 people. They’ll operate out of our Powell Garage facility in SE Portland.

Like all TriMet buses, the FX buses run on renewable diesel, also called “green diesel.” The renewable diesel is chemically identical to petroleum, but it contains nearly no fossil carbon and performs better in cold air. It’s made from 100% renewable and sustainable resources like natural fats, vegetable oils and greases. 

Upgraded technology

We’ve added Transit Signal Priority technology on the new buses and at 58 intersections on Division. It prioritizes buses at select intersections, giving them the green light first at traffic signals to get riders to their destinations faster. That means on FX, you can keep moving even when traffic isn’t.

Watch how we’re testing TSP to time traffic signals and reduce delays at key intersections.

Improved design

Our new bendy buses are designed to comfortably carry 60% more riders than our standard 40-foot buses. They also allow boarding at any of the three doors, with Hop readers at every door, to make getting on and off the bus quicker and easier. 

Two bike racks are located inside the rear door, so riders can quickly board, tap their payment, load their bike and be on the way. FX buses also have priority seating at the front for seniors and people with disabilities. Check out all FX bus features here.

The mechanics of the bend

People often ask us, “How is that massive bus going to make turns on our tight streets?” The answer is, even though the bus is longer, the space between the sets of tires is shorter. The bus also turns around its central pivot. Together, these features allow the bus to make the same turns a 40-foot bus can. 

To settle any doubts, we tested the turning radius of a 60-foot FX bus and a standard 40-foot bus. The turning radius for a 40-foot bus is 43 feet. For the articulated bus, it’s 44 feet and 8 inches. As you can see in this video, pretty much anywhere a 40-foot bus can go, an articulated bus can go, too. 

Time to celebrate (and ride for free!)

FX2-Division service officially begins on September 18! But we’re throwing a big community-wide celebration the day before on Saturday, September 17 – and you’re invited! If you’re on Facebook, RSVP here.

We’ll have three festivals along the FX2-Division route near OMSI (featuring My People’s Market), at PCC Festival Marketplace (PCC Southeast), and at the Gresham Farmers’ Market. Each event will feature local food vendors, live entertainment and a giant paint-by-numbers mural. We’ll also have free rides along the FX2-Division route between noon and 6 p.m.!

Learn more about the FX Grand Opening events.

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