Opportunities for action
A new type of transit service called "Community Connector Service" is proposed for areas with limited ridership potential. Community Connector Service can be tailored to the community served and could range from low-cost fixed route bus services to flexible shuttle services. This type of service will be feasible if the traditional cost structure for transit is modified or another entity operates the service. Based on current development, future plans, and local aspirations, Westside communities where Community Connector Service appears most appropriate include Forest Gove, Cornelius, North Hillsboro, Dawson Creek, Rock Creek, Cedar Mill and Forest Heights.
Reformed cost structure
Subject to labor contract negotiations, TriMet may look to develop a new structure for operators that allows for tiers of drivers based on experience. Less experienced operators at a lower cost per hour would be assigned to Community Connector Services, lowering the cost per ride and therefore making the service financially feasible to operate. Another option would be for TriMet to contract with a private company to operate the service subject to labor contract changes.
A new entity
A joint-powers authority could be developed between TriMet and local jurisdictions to operate Community Connector Services. This entity would be able to hire operators or contract service that could serve a broader range of community areas and still be cost-effective.
TriMet can work with jurisdictions to identify other funding opportunities that would allow jurisdictions to contract for shuttle services themselves. In early 2013, the City of Forest Grove was awarded a Job Access/Reverse Commute federal grant to operate a shuttle service in the community.