Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Trimet board to consider 3 hour transfer

26 September 2011
Contact: Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons, Co-Director
OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
(503) 512-0490 | |

WHAT: TriMet Board to Consider Campaign for a Fair Transfer

WHEN: Wednesday, September 28th; Rally at 8:00AM, TriMet Board Meeting at 9:00 AM

WHERE: The Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Avenue

WHY: Transit riders seek relief from service cuts and value restored to TriMet service.
TriMet Board and GM McFarlane to Consider 3 Hour Transfer

“With longer waiting times between buses and more overcrowded buses, service is less reliable and bus riders struggle to meet their basic needs, having to purchase additional single-trip fares at greater expense for less service.”
–Teresa Soto de Roman, OPAL Bus Riders Unite! Leadership Team member

OPAL Bus Riders Unite along with representatives from 30 endorsing organizations call on TriMet to adopt a 3 hour transfer and make transfers after 7pm good all night.  OPAL volunteers have collected 6,000 petitions and conducted a 6 month grassroots campaign of research, community meetings and engagement with TriMet Board and Staff.  Key leaders and allies will make a formal presentation to the TriMet Board on September 28th at 9:00 AM.

On Monday September 26th, OPAL met with TriMet GM Neil McFarlane and staff to address TriMet’s flawed preliminary cost analysis and failure to conduct a benefit analysis.  We publicly express our thanks to GM McFarlane for agreeing to a Board motion directing TriMet to conduct a more comprehensive study.  We support a study that includes accurate cost projection, an analysis of new revenue from increased ridership, health and environmental co-benefits, and has transparency and accountability measures including the participation of OPAL and independent experts.

“Adopting this policy change will increase access to jobs for workers and employers can begin to build trust in TriMet.”
–Marcus Mundy, Urban League of Portland, President and CEO

“In an economy where more and more people depend on TriMet, a fair transfer would increase the value of the system in face of service cuts and fare increases that are hitting low-income communities the hardest.”
–Jean DeMaster, Human Solutions, Executive Director

Background: OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon has been organizing transit riders – particularly transit-dependent riders from working class families and communities of color – to build a stronger public voice in transportation decision-making. As part of this community mobilization, OPAL’s Bus Riders Unite community group has prioritized the Campaign for a Fair Transfer as a primary issue of importance. TriMet’s current transfer time policy – one hour past the “destination point” on the bus, or two hours from time of purchase on the MAX – is not equal or sufficient for many transit-dependent riders who use the system to meet their basic needs. The Campaign for a Fair Transfer seeks to equalize and extend the transfer time to three (3) hours for all daily boardings and provide transfers through the end of evening service for boardings after 7:00 PM.

Many of our members are experiencing hardships in the face of severe cuts to service and continued fare increases. Many of those who once relied on monthly passes have either lost the benefit along with their job or simply can no longer afford the cost and are now relying on transfer fares. Given increased headways, transit riders are frequently missing connections or being passed up by overcrowded buses, resulting in increased physical and mental stress and health risks. Despite a significant decrease (15%) in bus service the past two years, bus ridership has only decreased slightly (3%), meaning that demand for bus service is as strong as ever and rising. Yet service hours per capita are at the lowest levels since 1975, considering cuts through September 2010.

Flawed TriMet Cost Analysis: After reviewing OPAL's feedback on TriMet's preliminary cost analysis, TriMet acknowledged that the projected fiscal impact of the transfer extension policy was inflated due to incorrect assumptions in their own analysis. TriMet now believes that the cost of implementing the proposal is half of its initial projection. Specifically, TriMet estimates the cost of extending transfers to three hours for all daily boardings to be as low as $900,000 per year. The cost of extending transfers through the end of evening service for boardings after 7pm may also be as low as $900,000 per year, and TriMet acknowledgesd that this estimate is based on an arbitrary assumption that 50% of all transit riders after 7pm are making a return trip and would not be able to take advantage of the extended transfers. In total, this cost represents less than 1% of TriMet’s operating budget. OPAL and independent economic experts continue to see flaws and red flags in TriMet’s analysis and will review these adjusted calculations.

TriMet included no analysis of increased revenue due to increased ridership as a result of the transfer policy change.  TriMet acknowledged its inability to accurately estimate the benefits of the Campaign for a Fair Transfer. Data from other similar transit authorities indicates that a transfer extension results in increased ridership with the potential to completely offset any minimal cost of the policy change. In fact, our initial analysis shows that adoption of our proposed transfer policy could increase farebox revenue and be a fiscal net positive for TriMet.

TriMet also acknowledged that it is important to consider the significant public health benefits and equity considerations of the proposal, which they have yet to incorporate.

Additional Quotes & Background:

"Public transit is a human right that increases the health of our communities. A fair transfer policy would significantly reduce the levels of physical and mental stress that result when you can’t meet your basic needs on the bus.”
–Monica Beemer, Sisters of the Road, Executive Director

“11 fare increases in 11 years have put bus passes out of reach for many individuals and families experiencing poverty or underemployment, including many riders from communities of color. More and more of our community members who rely on public transportation are forced to purchase single-fare tickets and rely on transfers to to get to work, school, the doctor, and the grocery store. TriMet’s policy needs to support its riders to be able to meet their basic needs.”
–Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Co-Director

“The current TriMet transfer policy is both confusing and arbitrary, allowing for unequal transfers for bus riders and MAX riders – bus riders get just one hour on weekdays from the end of their trip as determined by the bus driver, while MAX riders get two hours from purchase.”
–Jonathan Ostar, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Co-Director and Staff Attorney

OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon is a 501(c)(3) community-based organization organizing working class communities and communities of color to build political power. By developing leadership from within communities most impacted by local environmental and socioeconomic decision-making, OPAL works to promote environmental and social justice and sustainable, healthy communities. OPAL also co-chairs and facilitates the Transportation and Health Equity Network, comprised of regional partners working on issues of transportation and health equity.

Endorsing Organizations (updated 9.25.11)
  1. Alliance for Democracy
  2. African Women's Coalition
  3. Association of Rail and Transit Advocates of Oregon
  4. Catholic Charities Resettlement Program
  5. Center for Intercultural Organizing
  6. Central City Neighborhood Association
  7. Coalition for a Livable Future
  8. Community Alliance of Tenants
  9. East Portland Action Plan
  10. Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon's Oregon Interfaith Power and Light Project
  11. El Programma Senior Program
  12. Head Start Mt Hood Policy Council
  13. Human Solutions
  14. Jobs with Justice
  15. Josiah Hill Clinic
  16. Latino Network
  17. Multnomah Youth Commission
  18. OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
  19. Oregon Tradeswoman
  20. Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc.
  21. Portland Youth and Elders Council
  22. Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association
  23. ROSE Community Development
  24. SEIU Local 49
  25. Sisters of the Road
  26. Street Roots
  27. Upstream Public Health
  28. Urban League of Portland
  29. Verde
  30. VOZ Workers Rights

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