Covid-19 Transportation Questions and Answers

News article

The Covid-19 health emergency has impacted every aspect of our daily life. This includes transportation. As our response continues to evolve, we are receiving questions about transportation and how people can continue to get where they need to go safely.

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This FAQ will be updated as needed.  

What can I do now that a stay-at-home order is in place? 

Do:

  • Stay home as much as possible (kids, too).
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others any time you are out.
  • Go out only for essentials (groceries, medical care).
  • Exercise outside (hiking, biking) only if you can be 6 feet apart from others.
  • Have video and phone chats.
  • Drop food off to neighbors who can't go out.

Don't:

  • Gather in groups.
  • Get together with friends (no drinks or dinners).
  • Have playdates for kids.
  • Make unnecessary trips.
Stay Home. Save Lives infographic. Do and Don't
Image by the Oregon Health Authority.

What businesses will be open and closed now that a stay-at-home order is in place? 

Open:

  • Grocery stores
  • Banks
  • Pharmacies
  • Bars, restaurants (takeout, delivery only)
  • Some other stores (stay 6 feet from others)
  • Gas stations

Closed:

  • Malls and retail complexes
  • Fitness, yoga and dance centers
  • Barbershops, hair and nail salons, spas, cosmetic stores, tattoo parlors
  • Theaters, amusement parks, arcade, bowling alleys, skating rinks, museums
  • Concerts, sporting events, festivals
  • Campgrounds, pools, skate parks, playgrounds
Stay Home. Save Lives. Open and Closed
Image by the Oregon Health Authority.

What is the guidance regarding public transit such as TriMet MAX and buses, the Portland Streetcar, the Portland Aerial Tram, and BIKETOWN bike-share? 

TriMet: As of April 2, TriMet is limiting buses to 10-15 passengers at a time. TriMet service alerts related to Covid-19 here: https://trimet.org/health/

Portland Streetcar: As of March 23, Portland Streetcar has reduced regular weekday service to every 20 minutes. Service alerts and updates posted here: https://portlandstreetcar.org/

Portland Aerial Tram: As of March 20, the Portland Aerial Tram is limited to only patients and staff with the following fares:

  • OHSU identification badges
  • VA Portland Health Care System employee cards
  • Shriner’s Hospitals for Children – Portland employee cards
  • Patients of OHSU, VA Portland and Shriner’s Hospital

Tram operators will not allow more than 10 people at a time to ride in each of the two cabins, down from a normal capacity of 79 people per cabin. Like health care institutions nationwide, these measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of patients, hospital staff, and the broader community. Additional details regarding OHSU’s visitation policy can be found here.

BIKETOWN, Portland's bike-share system, is working with PBOT to offer subsidized rides through April 30. BIKETOWN is closely monitoring the situation and taking guidance from the CDC and local health officials. High contact surfaces on vans used to transport vehicles will be disinfected at the start of each shift. It’s a good idea to wash your hands immediately after riding all forms of public transportation, including bike-share. More updates on reduced fares and their response to Covid-19 here: https://www.biketownpdx.com/blog/covid19


What is the guidance for e-scooters? 

Lime and Bird have suspended electric scooter operations in Portland at this time. Razor has scaled back its operations.

Spin e-scooter service is still operating. PBOT is currently working with them to offer subsidized rides.


What is the guidance related to taxis, Uber and Lyft? 

Radio Cab is sharing updates on their service related to Covid-19 on their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/RadioCab

Uber’s information about what they are doing related to Covid-19 can be found here: https://www.uber.com/us/en/coronavirus/ 

Lyft’s information can be found here: https://www.lyft.com/safety/coronavirus 


What is happening with public meetings?  

During the first two weeks of the public health emergency, PBOT cancelled all public meetings and open houses to protect Portlanders from the spread of Covid-19. During that time, PBOT developed new protocols for public meetings. Since April 1, the bureau has been conducting all public meeting using digital platforms which will allow for public participation while supporting the "Stay Home, Save Lives" order.

What are the bureau’s priorities for maintenance work? 

PBOT maintenance crews are focused on urgent and emergency work to keep our transportation system moving. This includes responding to landslides and sinkholes, clearing road debris, and repairing sewers and broken signals. Emergency road hazards may still be called into our 24/7 maintenance dispatch at 503-823-1700.


Is parking enforcement still happening? 

YES, although we are focusing on emergency priorities. Parking enforcement plays a vital role in keeping emergency routes free, work zones safe, fire hydrants clear, and loading zones open for businesses delivering food, medicine, and other essential services.

Free parking could encourage some people to go out in public who might otherwise not do so, a situation we want to avoid. Businesses have asked us to put public health first. Once the public health crisis has passed, we will look at a range of opportunities to support small businesses and Portland’s workforce.      

Residential parking permit areas remain in effect but are not a top priority at this time. Residents are encouraged to use their guest permits for friends and family who may need access. PBOT is reaching out to each of the district parking associations to shape policy together. 


Are downtown SmartPark garages open?

Yes. Many downtown residents—and workers who perform critical tasks—normally take transit to their destinations, but they now find themselves in a position where they need to either keep their vehicle downtown or drive downtown to work. This situation creates a hardship for many who must be able to park their vehicles. Commissioner Eudaly instructed PBOT to temporarily reduce the all-day rate in all five of the bureau’s SmartPark garages to $5 per day. These operational changes went into effect March 27.

Customers who stay more than two hours pay a maximum all-day rate of $5 dollars for parking up until 5 a.m. the following day. Customers who stay two hours or less will continue to pay the $1.80 per hour rate. Security officers will continue to patrol the garages 24/7.

You can read the full press release here.


Is it possible for companies to deliver groceries and other needed goods around the clock? 

YES. Title 18, the Noise Code, has always recognized that as a vibrant city, we need ways for commerce-related deliveries to occur 24/7, and in all sectors of the city. Applicable city code here: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/citycode/article/692843 


Is PBOT continuing Gravel Streets service? 

NO. PBOT maintenance crews are focused on providing critical maintenance work to keep our transportation system running. Gravel Streets service is not defined as critical maintenance and has been paused for now. PBOT is developing a schedule for when this work will resume.


Will you close my street to cars during the Covid-19 state of emergency? 

NO. In Portland, and around the country, people have called for street closures, suggesting closures would give people more space to spread out which, in turn, would decrease crowds and slow the spread of Covid-19.  

Like other government agencies, we are trying our best to adapt to the rapidly shifting emergency and the uncertainty about the immediate future. Our traffic operations staff are making emergency traffic management plans for health care locations throughout the city right now, and simply can’t be pulled off this for non-essential work. 

Furthermore, we’re working hard to adhere to Governor Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” order which directs residents to remain home except for essential trips. PBOT’s typical projects that close streets (e.g. Sunday Parkways, Last Thursdays, or block parties) bring people together for socialization, activities, or business. Closing streets to vehicular traffic could invite gatherings rather than encouraging social distancing and staying at home.  

Right now, we need to support our community by flattening the curve and slowing the spread of the coronavirus. 

If you are going outside for fresh air or exercise, please make sure you keep six feet of space between yourself and others. If you have to drive, please consider all streets shared streets. Even though the roads are clear, drive slowly. More than ever, our streets belong to all of us and we have to look out for each other. 


How can I contact PBOT during the crisis?

For emergency road hazards call PBOT’s 24/7 maintenance dispatch at 503-823-1700.

For general PBOT questions, please leave a detailed message at 503-823-5185. Customer service staff are returning calls throughout the day.

For Covid-19 related customer service hours and operational changes for all city bureaus, check for updates here.