On Wednesday, June 13, the TriMet Board adopted our budget for next year – and the vote was unanimous. The Board heard testimony from 52 people, mostly organized by the group OPAL. The Board’s actions balanced the budget – eliminating the projected $12 million/year gap. You all have heard me say – and I repeat here – that another $5 million in possible service reductions or fares will be required if TriMet management loses the ATU 757 arbitration. We’ll face that as necessary after July 31st – when we expect the arbitrator’s decision.
Make no mistake, the adopted Budget has some pain for our customers – a fare increase to $2.50 flat fare, eliminating some connections for some riders and no free service anywhere in the region. But, there are some noticeable and remarkable gains in the budget as well. Some of the bigger advances include a flat fare, new buses and more fare inspection. A flat fare system makes our system much easier to use for customers and easier to manage for operators. Simplifying the fare system is something everyone has wanted. Here is the list of all the gains:
54 new buses
10 added fare enforcers
A flat (NO ZONES!) fare system
A day pass equivalent to price for a round trip, good for adult, HC, and students
No free rail zone – allowing fare based security checks in Downtown
New service and extended schedules on impacted routes
More efficient bus routing in a number of places, including central Washington County, where we can reassemble line segments to create a new route from Hillsboro to Sunset TC on Cornell.
Additionally, the Board dedicated $1 million of contingency to a fund to offset the pain of the fare increase for low income riders.
We have also created a program paid for by hotel/motel taxes that will provide day passes for convention center attendees.
I want to thank all who participated in this long, long budget process. We had one of the best conversations with our customers and stakeholders we could hope for. That we had some contrary opinions at the end shouldn’t surprise us, the decisions were difficult ones. I believe the Board was very well informed, made their own decisions, all of which served the riders of the region well.
Once again, thanks to all who participated in this.