Wednesday, August 29, 2012


There’s no sugar coating it: On Saturday, TriMet will hit riders with the most-sweeping fare changes in the agency’s 43-year history.

Riders who now purchase a $2.10 one-zone ticket to ride, for example, will have to pay 40 cents more as part of its balance-budgeting one-zone-fits-all plan.

So, what better way to protest than stage a gold old-fashioned transit funeral in the public square?

On Thursday, the riders union Bus Riders Unite, organized by the nonprofit OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, will “mourn the loss of affordable fares and further cuts to bus service” with a New Orleans-style funeral in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square.

“These changes disproportionately impact low income riders and people of color,” said OPAL organizer Hector Osuna, “ and will result in fewer people using public transportation in our region.”

The event will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. to not only protest fare increases but service cuts and the elimination of the free rail zone in downtown.

“TriMet’s speculative justifications for these dramatic changes have failed to materialize,” Osuna said. “The agency has won the fight with their drivers over health care, and the federal government approved a transportation bill that does not reduce funding available to the agency.”

September’s fare increases will be the 11th for TriMet in 10 years.

The further cuts to bus service, according to OPAL, “are both unnecessary and unjust, hurting those who rely on public transit the most -- such as low income families and people of color.”

The group said TriMet fails to understand the needs of transit riders, including providing consistent, accessible service to job opportunities and critical services.

Given The Oregonian's investigation into how often the TrMet board actually rides its trains and buses (hardly ever), such out-of-touch accusations aren't too hard to believe.

TriMet funeral protest; SUV terror ride; transit passes for poor; 'Designated texters': Commuter roundup |

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