Wednesday, February 13, 2013
SLIMY TRIMET MANAGERS TRY 'SHOCK AND AWE' ON THE PUBLIC
Story by Michael Anderson Yikes! Scary TriMet slideshow warns of 70% service cut by 2025
If current trends continue, TriMet would have to eliminate 63 bus lines and 70 percent of transit service in the next 10 years.
That’s the shockingly dire warning TriMet executives have chosen for the launch of the agency’s budget season tomorrow, according to a slideshow fragment circulated to stakeholders this week.
Using language TriMet managers had mostly avoided over the previous four years of cuts, the slideshow refers to a slow-motion "service crisis" for the agency created by costs that are expected to grow far faster than revenues through 2030.
The slideshow even includes a map showing 22 transit lines that might remain in that hypothetical 2025 – basically the agency’s frequent service bus network plus MAX and WES commuter rail.
It’s not yet clear what assumptions lie behind those projections – for example, whether they contemplate any tax increases, or whether the agency would expect any administrative cuts to accompany a 70 percent service cut.
Three of the seven circulated slides focus on the cost of TriMet’s medical benefits for its future retirees, a huge and growing expense that the agency has spent the last decade failing to save money for.
The dramatic rhetoric is the latest step in a long, slow about-face by the agency, which as recently as 2010 was willing to borrow $60 million from its future operating budgets to cover its share of the new Orange Line. After years of warnings by activists from the political right, left and center, TriMet executives now speak frequently about their catastrophically imbalanced long-term budget.
General Manager Neil McFarlane is scheduled to present a one-hour "state of TriMet" report to his bosses, the agency’s state-appointed board, during today’s 9 a.m. TriMet board briefing at the ODOT offices in Old Town.
TriMet workers’ union has been amping up its own rhetoric, too, with a new website presenting its side of the argument and a comprehensive critique of TriMet management published Monday on one operator’s blog.
But unlike management, the union has yet to acknowledge the size of Portland’s coming transit crunch – or to propose any solutions big enough to solve it.