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TriMet unveils proposed FY 2012 budget

April 13, 2011

First time in 3 years, some bus and MAX service will be restored; also includes 5 cent fare increase for adults

TriMet today unveiled its proposed $434 million operating budget for FY12, and for the first time in three years, there are no service cuts anticipated and some bus and MAX service will be restored.

"Our overall budget is good news compared to the last two fiscal years," said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane. "While we remain in a very constrained financial environment, we are able to make important investments in some service restoration, key safety initiatives and purchase new buses."

Proposed budget highlights

  • Restore a small amount of bus and MAX service to reduce overcrowding and maintain schedule reliability. Ten bus lines will have some additional trips added to relieve overcrowding: Lines 4, 9, 12, 14, 35, 44, 52, 75, 78 and 94; during evening rush hour, there will be additional Blue Line MAX trips.
  • Restart annual bus procurement program, purchasing 55 buses this year primarily with grant funds, and 40 each subsequent year, funded through debt service.
  • Propose a five cent fare increase and a $4 increase for monthly passes for adult fares; all other fixed route cash fares remain unchanged. A $1 increase in youth monthly passes is also proposed. The increase helps offset the additional cost of providing service and rising diesel prices, as well as helps provide some service restoration to respond to overcrowding.
  • Propose a 40 cent increase for LIFT trips, as well as discontinuing the monthly pass. TriMet LIFT fares are one of the lowest among peer agencies. Current fare is $1.85 for one way trip; cost to TriMet is $29. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows fares to be a maximum of twice the cost of a regular base fare of $4.10. TriMet is proposing to increase the LIFT cash fare over the next 3 years, bringing it to $3. Salem and Eugene currently charge $3 for ADA paratransit trips.
  • Increase the budget for diesel, from the FY11 budget of $2.42 a gallon to FY12 at $3.31. TriMet does not pay taxes on fuel, so the price is lower than what consumers pay at the gas pump. TriMet is the largest diesel user in the state, buying about 6.5 million gallons annually. For every 15 cent increase in diesel prices, it adds $1 million in increased expense.
  • Fund safety initiatives, including annual operator recertification.
  • The Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project continues to move forward through Final Design. No TriMet funds are going toward the project until FY2013. Funds from the Oregon lottery backed bonds, ODOT Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant and Metro MTIP bond proceeds are funding Final Design.

State law requires TriMet to balance its budget. The FY2012 budget assumes that a new Working and Wage Agreement with the ATU has benefits more in line with peer agencies, and consistent with those contained in TriMet’s July 2010 Final Offer.

Fare increase process

The first reading of the five cent fare increase proposal will be at the April 27 board meeting. The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Avenue. The board is expected to vote on the proposal at its May 25 board meeting.

The board is expected to hear public testimony about the proposed LIFT fare changes during its June 22 meeting, with a decision expected at its July 27 meeting. Meeting details are at trimet.org/meetings/board.

If approved, the fare changes would take effect September 1, 2011.