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How TriMet is Funded

Like most transit agencies, the money allocated to TriMet for building our transit system is different from the money for operating it. Here's how TriMet is funded:

Operating funds

Operating Revenue Sources chart

About half of TriMet's operating revenue comes from business payroll taxes.

TriMet's operating funds pay for the day-to-day administration and operation of bus and rail service, and most of the cost to replace and rehabilitate vehicles, equipment and aging infrastructure.

We receive 57% of our operating funds from taxes, primarily a payroll tax paid by businesses located within the TriMet district boundary. Another 24% comes from fares, which is typical for transit agencies.

When unemployment goes up, revenue from the payroll tax goes down, which means less money for TriMet operations.


Performance Dashboard thumbnailView TriMet's montly performance dashboard

Capital funds

Our capital funds pay for rail construction projects such as WES Commuter Rail, MAX Green Line and the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project.

These funds come from a different pool of money, largely in the form of grants from the federal government, and are often allocated many years in advance. We also receive a small amount of state and federal money for other capital improvements.

By law, these funds are designated for capital investments only, so we can't use them to pay for day-to-day operations.

Stimulus funds

In spring 2009, TriMet received $53 million in federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Federal guidelines require that stimulus money be spent on capital projects and infrastructure that will make the transit system more robust and put Oregonians to work.