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TriMet releases FY13 budget and final proposal for service cuts and fare changes to help close budget shortfall

April 11, 2012

After six months of extensive public outreach, TriMet today released its final budget proposal to close the $12 million to $17 million shortfall in its upcoming Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) budget. The budget begins July 1, 2012.

During the outreach process, staff met with more than 5,100 people at dozens of community meetings and other venues, including riding affected bus lines to solicit feedback. In all, the agency received 16,000 comments on its service cuts and fare increase proposals. Based on public comments, the agency made additional changes to the service cut proposals. The full proposal is available at trimet.org/choices.

TriMet is targeting $12 million in cuts with changes taking effect in September 2012. The unsettled labor contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union will not be resolved until after the budget begins. TriMet is proposing $12 million in cuts and changes now, and depending on the outcome of the arbitration of the contract, may need to cut an additional $5 million during the FY13 budget.

BUDGET BACKGROUND

Stagnant economy

With the slow jobs recovery, TriMet expects to receive about $3 million less in payroll tax revenues than previously anticipated.

Federal operating funds

TriMet estimates a $4 million cut in federal formula funds that are used for preventive maintenance; the agency receives $40 million to $45 million annually

Union contract

The unresolved union contract adds $5 million to $10 million to the FY13 budget shortfall. The contract expired in 2009 and both parties are heading to interest arbitration in May 2012, with a decision expected after the start of the FY13 budget.

UPDATED & FINAL BUDGET PROPOSAL

Eliminate fare zones/move to flat fare system – $6 million in additional revenue

The zone system was created 30 years ago in an attempt to charge for distance-based trips that typically started in the suburbs and ended in Downtown Portland. It kept fares lower for minority and low-income riders who lived in the central city. Over time, travel patterns shifted throughout the region, and demographics also changed with most minority and low-income riders living further away from the central city and making longer trips. Moving to a flat fare system makes it simpler for riders.

Flat fare proposal

  • Adult flat fare would increase to $2.50 and be valid for 2-hours, allowing for transfers and round-trips. A 1-day ticket with unlimited rides would be priced at the current Day Pass of $5.
  • Youth fares would increase 15 cents to $1.65 for a 2-hour ticket; 1-day ticket would drop from the current $5 to $3.30.
  • Honored Citizen fares would not change and remain at $1 for 2-hour ticket, $2 for a 1-day ticket with unlimited rides.

Eliminate the Free Rail Zone – $2.7 million in additional revenue

This change would eliminate free rides on MAX in Downtown Portland and the Lloyd District.

Sell ads on TriMet website – $300,000 in additional revenue

 

Internal efficiencies – $1.2 million in savings

The original proposal from February called for $500,000 in savings. By identifying $1.2 million in internal efficiencies and program cuts it will minimize service cuts and impact to riders. During this recession, TriMet has already cut 200 positions, frozen salaries for non-union employees now in its fourth year and required greater cost sharing for health care benefits.

Service cuts – $1.1 million in savings

The original proposal from February totaled $2 million in cuts. The cuts have been reduced by about 50 percent, with no elimination of any weekend bus service or MAX service, except for the elimination of free rides in the Free Rail Zone.

  • Reconfigure 15 bus routes
    Eliminate segments of routes that overlap with other routes while maintaining service to an area. This may mean more transfers for some riders on these 15 bus lines: 6, 8, 9, 12, 16, 17, 47, 48, 67, 70, 73, 77, 82, 87 and 89. Line 9-Powell will travel only as far west as Downtown Portland; Line 17 will be combined with the former 9-Broadway to become the 17-Holgate/Broadway. The final Line 16 routing will travel along Front Avenue to Kittridge Avenue with service to St. Johns and Sauvie Island.
  • Change routing on 2 bus lines
    In response to community input and to make closer transfers, Line 15 will be extended between Montgomery Park and the NW Industrial area. As previously proposed, routing along Line 43 would be modified in Downtown Portland.
  • Eliminate bus trips with low ridership on 9 bus lines
    Instead of reducing service on 10 bus lines that were part of the refined proposal, the recommended plan would eliminate trips on 9 lines, with service either beginning later in the morning and/or ending earlier in the evening, and may include extending time between trips: 15, 18, 36, 37, 43, 50, 55, 59 and 92.
  • Add service on 7 bus lines to alleviate overcrowding
    With the additional internal savings, TriMet is adding trips to 7 bus lines to respond to overcrowding: 4, 9, 33, 35, 44, 76 and 94.

Adjust LIFT paratransit service boundary – $400,000 in savings

TriMet's current LIFT door-to-door paratransit service exceeds Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. The proposal is to implement six different LIFT service boundaries based on time of day and day of the week, and only provide paratransit trips if there is nearby bus or rail service is in operation at that time.

Reduce TriMet contribution to the Portland Streetcar – $300,000 in savings

TriMet helps fund Portland Streetcar operations, and is proposing a $300,000 reduction in FY13 contribution, down $100,000 from original proposal.

"With nearly 16,000 comments received from the community, it truly helped shape our proposal and focus on our shared priority that preserving service was the top priority," said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane.

Public comment

The public can comment on the final proposal:

Email: comments@trimet.org
Phone: 503-238-RIDE (7433), option #5
Fax: 503-962-6451
Mail: Budget Feedback,TriMet MK2, 4012 SE 17th Ave., Portland, OR 97202
TTY: 503-238-5811 (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays)

Board actions

The Board will hold a first reading and public hearing on this proposal at its April 25 meeting. A second reading and vote will be held at the Board's May 23 meeting. The meetings will be held in the Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Avenue.

Fares changes take effect on September 1, 2012; service changes take effect September 2, 2012.