Fair and Equitable Transit

TriMet is deeply committed to serving all the people of our community. One of our core business objectives is to allocate our resources in a way that low-income populations and communities of color receive high-quality service.

This concept also is known as “environmental justice.” Injustice occurs when wealthier communities receive a disproportionate share of transportation benefits, while transportation burdens fall disproportionally on people of color or low-income communities.

Policies to assure equity

In fall 2013 TriMet hosted three work sessions to seek input from citizens throughout the region on proposed new policies and standards to assure fair and equitable transit. Turnout was strong, with about 75 individuals — most of whom identified as “transit dependent” — sharing their thoughts and hopes for these policies, summarized below.

Major service change policy

All proposed major increases or decreases in transit service and any change in the price of fares will be evaluated for equity before they can be approved. These changes include:

  • 25 percent or more change in the length of a route
  • 25 percent or more change in the daily hours of service
  • A proposed new transit route
  • Any change in fares

Unequal impact on minority populations policy (disparate impact policy)

All proposed major service changes or fare changes will be evaluated to determine whether the change adversely and disproportionately affects minority populations. Adverse changes include:

  • A decrease in frequency
  • A decrease in hours or days of service
  • Increased distance to reach transit (more than ¼ mile from bus stops or ½ mile from rail stations)

Disparate impacts to a single line are measured differently from systemwide impacts involving more than one line. For a single line, a proposed major service change is determined to have a disparate impact if:

  • Proposed service reductions on the line adversely affect the minority population that the line serves

AND

  • The percentage of impacted minority populations along the line is greater than the percentage of minority population of the TriMet District as a whole

OR

  • Proposed service increases are linked to changes that have adverse effects on the minority population along the line

Proposed service changes on more than one line are determined to have disparate impacts systemwide if:

  • The percentage of minority populations impacted by the proposed changes differs from the percentage of affected non-minority populations by more than 20 percent
  • Comparisons of impacts affecting minority and non-minority populations will be made for all changes for each respective day of service—weekday, Saturday, Sunday

Proposed fare changes are determined to have disparate impacts if the average minority rider has a greater fare increase than the average non-minority rider.

Unequal impact on low-income populations policy (disparate burden policy)

All proposed major service changes or fare changes will be evaluated to determine whether the change adversely and disproportionately affects low-income populations. Adverse changes include:

  • A decrease in frequency
  • A decrease in hours or days of service
  • Increased distance to reach transit (more than ¼ mile from bus stops or ½ mile from rail stations)

Low-income individuals and families are defined as those with incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. Currently 21.9 percent of the TriMet DistrictPDF population fall into this category.

Disparate impacts to a single line are measured differently from systemwide impacts involving more than one line. For a single line, a proposed major service change is determined to have a disparate impact if:

  • Proposed service reductions on the line would adversely affect the low-income population that the line serves (low-income individuals and families are defined as those with incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level)

AND

  • The percentage of impacted low-income populations along the line is greater than the percentage of the low-income population of the TriMet District as a whole

OR

  • Proposed service increases are linked to changes that have adverse effects on the low-income population along the line

Proposed service changes on more than one line are determined to have disparate impacts systemwide if:

  • The percentage of low-income populations impacted by the proposed changes differs from the percentage of affected non-low-income populations by more than 20 percent
  • Comparisons of impacts affecting low-income and non-low-income populations will be made for all changes for each respective day of service—weekday, Saturday, Sunday

Proposed fare changes are determined to have disparate impacts if the average low-income rider has a greater fare increase than the average non-low-income rider.

Performance standards and policies

TriMet has established standards and policies for service, including design, operation and provision of facilities and other amenities. These policies and standards guide TriMet in providing transit service that is safe, dependable, responsive, easy and inviting. They provide a basis for quantitative “yardsticks” to ensure that service design and operations practices do not result in discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin.

Standards

  • Vehicle loads
  • Service frequency
  • On-time performance
  • Service availability

Policies

  • Distribution of amenities
  • Vehicle assignment

Transit Equity & Access Advisory Committee (TEAC)

The Transit Equity & Access Advisory Committee is made up of a diverse cross-section of community leaders. The 14-member panel, created in May 2013, meets monthly to provide input and guidance to TriMet’s General Manager on fairness and equity considerations.

Reports, documents and links

Access Transit Program

Recognizing that access to public transit is access to opportunity, TriMet has established a two-pronged program to help low-income individuals access transit. These programs, funded at $1.2 million for 2014-15, provide low-cost or no-cost fares to non-profit and community based organizations and social service agencies, which distribute these to their low-income clients.

The grants mean increased independence, access to employment and employment resources, and improved community connections for thousands of low-income members of the area community.

Fare Assistance Program

More than 40 participating non-profit social service organizations purchase fares at reduced cost for low-income recipients. TriMet considers new applications as they are received.

Fare Relief Program

The second phase of the program provides small grants to eligible non-profit organizations so they can provide low-cost fares to additional low-income clients beyond those served normally. TriMet works with the regional organization Ride Connection to review applications and award grants.

In spring 2013 TriMet awarded more than $250,000 in grants to serve new low-income riders. Grants range from $900 to $22,500 and were provided through Ride Connection to 16 local non-profits and community-based organizations.