Monday, February 27, 2012


In Which I Solve The Budget Crisis, Repeatedly

Last week, I wrote about the fact that TriMet was trying to divide us into separate rider groups. There are choice riders, says TriMet, and there are transit-dependent riders. I went into some detail about how these are arbitrary categories. I thought that maybe we should all just bond over the fact that we are riders. Then it hit me… instead of nit-picking at this little crap why not just do what really needs to be done? Why not SOLVE THE BUDGET CRISIS?
Ambitious? Sure. Impossible? Hell yes. But this is just a stupid little blog post, so bear with me, skeptics. Throw aside your jaded hipster transit geekery and come with me on a magical ride into the imagination. Come with me to the land of balanced TriMet budgets, where lemonade flows in the streets and your transfer is made of solid gold.
There have been a number of proposals on the table, as you’ve seen. TriMet has even invented a little budget balancing game. It has become clear that TriMet brass would like to simply have the union pay for all of their own benefits, and Neil McFarlane has proposed that union members perform minor surgeries on each other, with instruments that will be provided by the company. Bypassing expensive hospital care and going to one of your fellow transit operators for appendectomy or simply heart valve replacement seems like a no-brainer, and would save approximately 278 dollars after the increase in death benefits is factored in. So, cool story, bro, but not workable in the world of MY budget ax.

Here’s my plan. Take note, and if it’s NOT implemented, you’ll know not to blame it on me.

Proposal – Eliminate Fareless Square.
Doc’s counter-proposal – Across-the-board fare increases AND free fares, administered at random by bus and train operators. One day, you pay $30 to get from Gateway to Lloyd Center, and the guy behind you rides free. Sometimes, you’re handed a monthly pass. Other days you fork over a thousand bucks on your credit card to go from PSU to Pioneer Courthouse Square. Can you even imagine how exciting this would be? Sometimes you pay nothing, other times you shoulder the burden of fares for your entire bus. Estimated savings – $17 million dollars. FIXED.
Proposal – Sell ad space on buses.
Doc’s Counter-Proposal – MAKE THOSE GODDAMN POETS PAY TO HAVE THEIR SHITTY WORK PLASTERED ALL OVER YOUR FIELD OF VISION. If I see one more middle-school ode to “my missing shoe” I’m going to stop the train with my feet, like Fred Flintstone. For Christ’s sake, people, if we have to read that crap, make it PAY. If I looked up and saw “The sun… bright… in the sky. Kite… sun in… the sky” and knew that it was solving the budget crisis, I’m in. Otherwise, the poetry terrorists have won. Estimated savings – my sanity. Priceless.
Proposal – Eliminate low-traffic lines. More schedule gaps between buses.
Doc’s Counter-Proposal – Eliminate all even-numbered bus lines. If you’re going to be arbitrary, why not just go for it? I mean, who rides those damn buses, anyway? MAX is where the money is, and the upscale caucasians that TriMet seems to want so badly! No more homeless people! Put them to work writing poetry for the odd-numbered buses! And you can get rid of half of those pesky union people, too. Decent living wages are for chumps. Maybe they’d get lucky and be able to ride a bus that was free that day under my arbitrary fare proposal.
Other brilliant revenue-generating ideas:
- Strip Train. Lease out the MAX after hours, hire a DJ, and combine Portland’s love of strip clubs with our love of mass transit. 50-dollar cover, all-you-can eat sandwiches, and remember that your dancers work for tips, ladies and gentlemen. BRILLIANT.
- Driver for a Day – For a thousand dollars, you get to drive your favorite bus line for a day. Driving a bus must be easy, since TriMet doesn’t seem to need to say anything positive about their operators and they stick around and drive anyway. For an extra 500 bucks, you can chuck a stroller out into the street or be allowed to pull a knife on a passenger instead of the other way around.
- MAX Fight Club – I’d say something about this, but hey, you know the first rule of Fight Club. Tell me it’s not brilliant, though.
The ideas go on and on. I have not heard any of these debated by the board, but none of them ride the bus anyway, apparently, so maybe they haven’t had time to think about it. They’re too busy fighting traffic and looking for parking. Hmmm… you know, access to transit is kind of a nice thing. Here’s hoping that TriMet can jump outside of that “cut routes, cut service, cut the union” box, and really try to implement some creative ideas.
My consultation rates, while spendy, are worth it. And we can talk Columbia River Crossing while you’re at it, for no extra charge.

In Which I Solve The Budget Crisis, Repeatedly | TriMet Diaries

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