***Look out “Honored Citizens” TriMet already talking about raising “Honored Citizen” fares***
To start deception thus mistruths and underhanded practices are prevalent at TriMet. Troubling, these deceptive practices are obviously costly to us TriMet’s customers in the form of higher fares and more service cuts.
Recently Mayor Adams has made the news sharing deception by TriMet management. A handshake agreement between TriMet management and Portland’s Mayor disregarded by TriMet decision makers. Mayor Adams signing off on behalf of the City of Portland agreeing to eliminate the free rail zone, however, with the caveat that TriMet would continue with the youth passes. TriMet management once again blatantly disrespectful and this time disrespecting Portland’s Mayor; …TriMet management disrespected Mayor Adams not keeping their word. TriMet did away with both free rail zone and youth passes. This is not the first practice of deception I have witnessed with TriMet management, managers not keeping their word; get everything in writing and notarized when dealing with TriMet management.
Additionally, people living in glass-houses should not throw stones and TriMet needs to learn this. Just listen to Mary Fetch, TriMet’s spokesperson on the news slamming city officials for planning to raise fees considered behind closed doors/backroom deals. What about TriMet: the lack of transparency on most issues, the public asking for transparency from TriMet and we get instead TriMet accusing the city of no transparency while formulating a response to TriMet’s deception by TriMet management and the TriMet Board not keeping their word – Mary, way to go, accusing others of the negative practices practiced by TriMet…
Back to the deception:
Mayor Adams has told TriMet in order to continue with the already agreed upon continuation of the youth passes higher fees for TriMet from the city would be necessary as to cover the cost of the passes TriMet wrongfully discontinuing. Thus, TriMet management has made it clear that if Mayor Adams follows through that there would have to be more fare increases and/or more service cuts. And remember, there is still the possibility of another 5-million dollar short fall lurking around thus certainly a good possibility of TriMet loosing the labor dispute with the union now in arbitration, thus, likely another budget shortfall TriMet has not budgeted for, oh yeah – more service cuts and higher fares… (TriMet’s way of raising funds for mismanagement and projects TriMet managers’ want – raise fares and cut services…) TriMet as an organization, its leadership, including board members, and, I dare say ‘management’ at odds with now Mayor Adams, students, families of youth, people with disabilities, TriMet customers in general, and TriMet employees.
Additionally, again, we have been asking for transparency from TriMet; we need to be careful of what we ask for. TriMet starting at the board level, trickling down to Neil McFarlane and others at TriMet, some have become transparent in a manner we did not expect: they have become somewhat transparent transparency only showing when TriMet leadership accomplishing what they want no matter the impact i.e., transparent while harming TriMet customers. TriMet leadership continues faulting on agreements with a multitude of people, groups, organizations, including their own advisory group(s), and now, including and certainly not just limited to Mayor Sam Adams. And the new form of transparency includes like in the past deception, lying, out of touch, and just plain arrogance. (The governor should be proud of his appointments: especially his newest appointments! Someone needs to be proud of them!)
***The TriMet Board and Neil McFarlane at the last TriMet board meeting already sharing the need for revisiting the “honored citizens’ fare; and I am certain they were not thinking about a fare decrease. I do not know all the details but I know that when TriMet management went back to the CAT looking for CAT supporting fare increases, FYI, CAT had already voted NO, but staff convinced them to vote again and as a caveat CAT had an agreement for their yes vote that ‘honored citizens’ fares would remain the same. I wonder what time line CAT agreed to and no matter what they agreed to I wonder if CAT has the agreement in writing, signed, and notarized? (“CAT” – supposedly a citizens’ advisory committee to TriMet – “Committee on Accessible Transportation” (an advisory committee or, are they a rubber stamp the same way the board is and/or just filling seats as a mandated committee?))
Additionally, at the board meeting last week only four board members present, one on the phone from DC and he shared during the conference call that he could only hear every third word or so, and two members absent of which one I believe is absent as often as present. At this meeting, the board and management were rushing so they could get next door to the city council meeting to do damage control. In addition, this was the meeting that the TriMet Board was honoring or dishonoring the operators of the year. I have attended thus watched many board meetings honoring operators of the year in an honoring fashion by previous boards. Leadership that actually in a meaningful respectful manner honoring the operators. Clearly, this was the most rushed, disrespectful, and, clearly showing lack of respect, respect due TriMet’s best front line employees, the employees that actually do the work, my opinion. And, only four out of seven board members in attendance, how rude! (Operators of the year “Honored” the same way “Honored Citizens” Honored at TriMet, we obviously have a lot in common – disrespected…”
Now to the Portland City Council Meeting:
Representing TriMet: Bruce Warner, President, TriMet Board of Directors, Craig Prosser, TriMet Board Member, and Neil McFarlane, General Manager. Additionally joining them at our expense (Higher fares and less service) an entourage of TriMet employees and knowing their positions I presume the majority of them all receiving 6-figure salaries – how many people were really needed? Why are we paying these people and how much did it cost for them just sitting there?
The Testimony: the three above named parties came to the testimony table. Bruce Warner did most of the testimony, Bruce meek while insuring the city council that the Board and TriMet Management would readdress the issue of youth passes. Then Craig Prosser testified and I presume most people including myself, those knowledgeable of the issue, wondered what he was talking about. Mayor Adams questioned the point of his testimony and in short, Mayor Adams had to explain the issue to him. Neil, what can I say? Under the circumstances, Neil said nothing and I presume it was because seemingly, TriMet management never apologizes and under the circumstances, I cannot think of anything else he could have, should have done, and needed an apology for the deception and blatant breaking of an agreement by TriMet leadership. Simply and clearly, Neil did not speak to the issue, as he should have. Mayor Adams agreed to table a vote from the council giving TriMet the opportunity to live up to its commitment – the issue scheduled to go back to city council July 25. (I hope the rest of us do not have to pay for this…)
In the past, we have questioned the knowledge, commitment, and, the caring by the board members by our witnessing their actions. I believe the above clearly underlines our concerns.
The youth passes: (Is walking or riding a bike options)
While I believe in the importance of youth able to get to school, I testified last Wednesday to this at the TriMet Board meeting and the City council meeting. With this said however, I am curious especially after having dialog with a friend of mine who is also a CAT member what is the criteria for youth passes. I hope an exhaustive study as to distances having to be traveled play apart to a student receiving a youth pass. Additionally, if family income plays apart in students receiving passes, and it should be, in all fairness, instead of raising fares for TriMet’s most vulnerable customers, i.e., people with disabilities especially and not just limited to LIFT paratransit customers, free passes for us too. We go to school, need to get to doctor appointments, etc and have some of the lowest incomes in the TriMet district, and have no option but TriMet. (Walking and biking normally not an option for people with disabilities) And, all TriMet leadership has been doing for years is raising our fares and reducing our service; who at city hall will be our champion?
Still pending and new issues presented by TriMet leadership: (not an exhaustive list)
· TriMet claiming a possible additional 2-million dollar shortfall if youth passes brought back – TriMet claiming more fare increases and more service cuts to make up for this
· If TriMet loses the dispute with the union, now being arbitrated, another 5-million dollar budget deficit – TriMet has more than once said that if this happens more fare increases and more cuts to service.
· And, with the real potential of more fare increases and more service cuts Neil McFarlane/TriMet wanting to move offices and buy all new furniture paying for part of this using general funds that could be put into service improvements replacing cuts and reducing fares, and again TriMet proposing doing this with current budget issues now, and the real possibility of further budget shortfalls.
· And, currently, 75-million dollars general fund dollars being spent on light-rail expansion that could have been used for budget issues without pricing people off transit and reducing the service levels for those that can afford to continue using TriMet – public transit?
· Continued discrimination towards people with disabilities because either TriMet management does not care to fix issues of “civil right” violations or does not have the budget to do so. Regardless discrimination affecting the “civil rights” of people with disabilities must end – remember TriMet management and the board are putting federal funds in jeopardy by being out of compliance with federal mandates -- and we are filing with the feds – TriMet better get its act together!
4th of July holiday, holiday sales, and we want to take advantage of the sales and we have personal budget issues, no cash. What do we do, we live without what we want, and at times, live without what we need. But, TriMet wanting to spend and spend money, spending money on what they want even if not 100-percent necessary to spend now, monies they are collecting due to higher fares and service cuts. Even though part of the purchase paid for by others, (Federal Tax Payers Money, TriMet management due not take advantage of federal funding if you cannot afford your part) Taxpayers money maybe not available down the road thus TriMet trying to justify spending now while we suffer. Tell Neil to use the old furniture that works today longer. Only make minimum employee moves now. Tell Neil to quit writing checks we have to cover by paying higher fares while receiving less service.
The above, just as I have seen it and as I see it continuing,