Wednesday, October 26, 2011


1. End Free Rail Zone TODAY.

2. End the City of Portland Streetcar subsidy. City runs their own system, city can pay for their own system. If there is a legal challenge, then cut the overlapping service - don't cut service in Oregon City to pay for Portland's trolley.

3. All park-and-ride facilities become pay facilities. TriMet's job is not to run parking lots.

4. Immediate cut in non-revenue motor pool fleet. If you can't get there on TriMet, you don't need to go.

5. ZERO the travel budget. We can't afford to run buses; we certainly can't afford for junkets to RailVolution and Australia.

6. Eliminate WES. Plain and simple. If you can't eliminate WES, than eliminate the free Wi-Fi, charge to park, shut down the lighted platforms (including those Transit Tracker displays and TVMs) when WES is not in service, and charge distance based fares resulting in a Beaverton to Wilsonville ride costing around $6.00 if not more - one way, no transfer privilege. Also, if WES cannot be discontinued, convert to two train operation every 40 minutes so as to eliminate one train and its associated fuel and labor cost.

7. Convert MAX to distance based fares.

8. Eliminate all landscaping. TriMet's job is running buses and trains on time, not making sure trees and grass look pretty.

9. Complete halt to all capital projects. That means stopping Milwaukie MAX construction altogether.

10. Review status of bus fleet, continue new bus purchases to reduce maintenance expense. Older buses cost more to run and maintain than new buses, so using federal funds to replace older buses will result in operating savings (including lower overtime expense, fewer mechanics needed).

11. Use articulated buses on heavy usage routes to reduce labor and fuel expense. Running 3 artics per hour (20 minute headways) provides the same quantity of service as 4 40' buses, but has 25% lower fuel and labor expense.

Earlier this morning, I briefed the Board on the outlook for our upcoming budget. Yes, this is ‘earlier’ than we usually start – here’s why… We are in a time that I am calling the “new normal” – a time of when fiscal uncertainty has created the Perfect Storm leaving us to face a $12 to $17 million budget ‘gap’ in fiscal year 13 – the year that starts July 1, 2012. Why? Three main reasons: 1. Stagnant Economy – with employment in the region growing ever so slowly, our payroll tax (over 50% of our budget) grows slowly too. While we didn’t have ‘wild’ expectations – we were hoping to see that grow from 4 to 5% next year. Reality has forced us to reduce our projected revenues by $3 million for next year. 2. Federal formula funds – there is a great deal of uncertainty over federal formula funds which comprise about $42 million in revenue to us. Who knows what will happen, but ‘automatic’ reductions could go into effect and our estimate is about a $4 million impact on our budget. 3. The ATU contract – the recent ERB decision removed from TriMet’s final offer certain provisions – so some cost reductions we were hoping to see will have to wait for a future negotiation. This could mean between $5 and $10 million in our FY13 budget. All this said, TriMet continues to be a service our community needs and wants. We face increasing requests for more and better service. The hard reality is that we cannot afford to expand, and I'm awfully afraid our service levels will diminish. As a ride, I know how important it is to preserve service but it is hard to see how some cuts can be avoided. These are not easy choices. That is why everything needs to be on the table – fares, service, and current fare discounts. We will need to examine our activities and investments carefully, and make sure we are confident about the value of every dollar we spend. To give us added time to address these issues and make those tough choices, I have created a Budget Task Force that will begin to meet in November. Given our best budget assumptions, these key business and community members will be tasked with providing me suggestions on how to appropriately balance our budget. Starting early will give us more time for input from taxpayers, riders, and other stakeholders. The budget itself will need to come together through a series of actions during the first half of 2012. This certainly isn’t the news I was hoping to share, but it is important that I share with you what is ahead. I will need your ideas, help and continued commitment to delivering exceptional service, no matter the decisions. Neil

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