portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary portland metro


Tri-Met "fare" increase

This has got to be a political move by tri-met. They simply dont care about all the folks that depend on the bus to get to work.
Tri-met is flushing half a billion dollars down the toilet to move the busses down to second and third, resulting in longer walks for folks needing to go to PSU, or most of the big office buildings downtown- But hey- there will be a few parking spaces on the street for Nordstroms customers. The light rail tracks on fifth and sixth would be a waste if they were free. Whats the use of a commuter train bogged down in traffic.

The increased ridership brought on by the "pain at the pump" ought to buy a little diesel. They could also use less diesel with a little driver training. Most of the busses I'm on the driver has either got the gas pedal to the floor or is marching on the brakes. Not an efficient way to drive a heavy vehicle. I had the pleasure of riding on one bus with an operator that understood this, and she drove smooth- so, yes it can be done.

Ideally I'd like to see electric busses on the heavily traveled lines. They get power from an overhead wire like the max. Electricity is a better way to go for the constant stopping and starting of a city bus. Look at the "streetcar" It's not really any bigger than a bus, why are there rails in the street. Well, the rails provide a return path for the electricity so ok, have two overhead wires.

Tri mets "fare" is not fair. They dont care, They also dont care when they skip a bus on sunday, and people are stranded for two hours.. They only care about looking good for the yuppies, and funneling money to construction contractors...

Most of tri mets riders are not wealthy environmentalists trying not to feel guilty, or "pearl-district" yuppies. Most are just trying to get to work.

was this (un) fare increase was passed by tri-mets board with no public input??? Are they not a public agency?

Anybody else angry about this???

By KATU Web Staff

PORTLAND, Ore. - TriMet riders - get ready to pay a little more to get on the bus or the MAX

The agency's board approved a 25-cent fare increase Wednesday morning. The new rates take effect in September

TriMet blamed the high cost of diesel fuel for the increase.

The agency estimated that the fuel would cost $2.31 per gallon when it put its budget together for the current fiscal year. But prices rose to $4 per gallon before ending the year around $3.86.

To offset the costs, TriMet said it has already dipped into reserves, made fleet vehicles more fuel efficient and cut staff positions.

TriMet also created a new 14-day pass to give riders the savings of a monthly pass.

The following is a press release issued by the agency:

TriMet has dipped into reserves, made fleet more fuel efficient & cut staff positions to cover some of the escalating costs

The TriMet Board of Directors today approved a fare increase to offset record-high diesel prices. Beginning September 1, 2008, adult cash fares will increase 25 cents; Youth/Student, Honored Citizen and LIFT cash fares will increase 10 cents. Five cents of the increase is dedicated to offset general inflation.

Diesel facts

* TriMet fuel prices have increased 67 percent over budget during the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2008, up from a budgeted $2.31 per gallon to topping $4 per gallon before ending the year around $3.86.
* Over the past fiscal year, TriMet paid $4.1 million more than budgeted for fuel ($19.7 million versus the budgeted $15.6 million).
* TriMet is nearly doubling its fuel budget for FY09 (July 1, 2008-June 30, 2009), estimating an average of $4 per gallon for a total of $28.5 million.
* TriMet will buy seven million gallons of diesel in FY09, which includes additional bus and LIFT service and the start of TriMet WES (Westside Express Service) Commuter Rail service this fall.

Offsetting fuel increases

* Over the past several years, TriMet has made several adjustments to its vehicles, making its bus fleet one of the most fuel-efficient in the nation. These actions save more than $600,000 annually.
* TriMet has transferred $4.1 million from contingency to offset current fuel costs, as well as eliminated 18 staff positions and reduced other programs.

September fare increase

* Adult cash fares will increase 25 cents; monthly passes will increase $10
* Youth/Student, Honored Citizen and LIFT cash fares will increase 10 cents; monthly passes will increase $2
* TriMet is creating a new 14-day pass to give riders the savings of a monthly pass, but purchase it in smaller increments.

I have a question 26.Jun.2008 09:39

max rider

I just recently started taking the max everywhere instead of driving and I was wondering if they use oil/gas/diesel at all for the max to run. I do not understand why the fare would go up for max riders too.

electric buses 26.Jun.2008 14:30

just make sure they're as "comfortable" as the old ones

I agree electric buses might make more sense for some routes, especially if they recharge the system with regenerative brakes. I would hope, though, that newer electric throttle switches are smarter than the ones they had in the '80s and '90s in other towns where there were only two states, "go!" and "stop!" and standing passengers had a hell of a time staying upright whenever the bus changed speeds.

Fares don't even cover operating costs 26.Jun.2008 15:27


I'd imagine Max and Bus fares are the same for consistency and ease of use across the whole system. The Max is cheaper to operate per person, but the intitial capital costs are astronomical.

I think it's important to note that transit fares don't even come close to the actual operating costs of a system like this, particularly on weekends and late hours.

I would personally love to see a city-wide fareless square, though the loss of fares and increase in usage would need to be compensated for in the budget somehow.

no more fare 26.Jun.2008 17:23


If I remember correctly, old Vera Katz actually proposed to do away with fares on trimet all together, in that nixing the expenses of fare collection and machine maintenance would almost balance the budget- plus I think Federal will subsidize up to 80% of the cost of trimet, while it's only covering a little over 50% right now. The PBA should be made to cover the rest (or be destroyed) if theres any discrepancy left...

Always the same lies... 26.Jun.2008 20:40


1. I've heard the assertion that fares don't cover operating costs a million times, but no one is ever able to provide hard data to support it.

2. I'd also like to know how much of those so-called "operating costs" actually have nothing to do with operation of the system but instead include the fat salaries of those who run the place, including the Board of Directors that routinely rubber-stamps these increases.

3. Faced with increasing fuel prices, a lot of people are just starting to discover public transit as an alternative, as proven by the recent increase in ridership. Raising the fares at such a moment will kill this trend off in the bud (as it has time and time again in the past). It almost looks like TriMet does not want more riders. Could it be because over time more riders will result in more demands for more service that TriMet isn't willing to meet?

We can all pretend to be so idealistic and brag about Portland having one of the best (and most expensive) transit systems in the nation. At the end of the day, however, when faced with a door-to-door 1 hour round-trip commute by car at a cost of $4.30 - OR - a 2.5 hour round-trip commute by MAX+Bus (incl. walk/wait/transfer time) at a cost of $4.60 - which one would you choose?
Being able to ride the Bus or MAX to work is more and more becoming a luxury many people can no longer afford. And TriMet doesn't get it.


Lew Church, PSU Progressive Student Union lewchurch@gmail.com

PSU Progressive Student Union/TriMet Oversight Project has worked on TriMet issues, off and on, for years. Fred, I believe, came to a couple brainstorm meetings earlier this year. There will be an organizing meeting for folks interested in reforming TriMet (from a Left/progressive perspective) this Saturday, July 5, at 8pm, at Laughing Horse Books, 12 NE 10th, off Burnside, on #12, 19 and 20 busses (close to Doug Fir).

The Oregonian's lead editorial today (Monday) praises Oregon Congressional Democrats for seeking more federal funding for mass transit, critiques Greg Walden, and says that global warming might be addressed by focusing on transit more. However, the editorial lauds the recent $10/monthly pass fare increase passed 4-1 by the TriMet board last week, and set to take effect September 1, 2008. This is the largest fare increase in TriMet history.

Some thoughts:

--TriMet Oversight Project argued for restoring Owl Service, a few years ago; TriMet said no. There needs to be 24 hour service, as in other metro areas in the US and worldwide. We also argued (in writing), with TriMet, against the fare increase. Obviously, TriMet refused (so far).

--The TriMet board should be elected, not appointed by Oregon's governor. George Passadore, ex regional CEO of Wells Fargo (target of national and local antiwar protests as a financier/supporter of ICE prisons/Iraq War, etc.), is current TriMet board chair. Wackenhut (Iraqi contractors) supply TriMet security workers now. Nationally, WarsFargo apparently has a board member who also is on the Exxon board. Exxon made $40 billion in profits in 2007, even as gas prices top $4/gallon and fuel price increases impact food price increases, etc. (There have been food riots in 30 countries, in 2008, so far). Exxon, Shell, etc., are signing Iraqi oil contracts this summer.

--PSU Progressive Student Union sent in several media blurbs prior to the fare increase at the TriMet board meeting (the time and location was not publicized in Portland media), to Oregonian, WWeek, and Mercury, but none were published.

--Vera Katz (we talked with her personally, when she was mayor) said that Fareless Square would expand to include the Lloyd Center business district--it did.

--Why not make TriMet free altogether to riders? As much as 80% of TriMet's revenue comes from the payroll tax. An elected TriMet board (which could publicize the meetings for public input) could lobby the state legislature in Salem to lift the "cap" on the payroll tax currently in existence over TriMet. Portland, with free public transit, would boost tourism (internationally), and become a 'leader' for green economic growth. At least one U.S. city would be seen to be fighting global warming seriously (not just with McCain rhetoric).

--With the recent CarFree Sunday event (with Colombian speakers) in North Portland, a progressive public transit coalition/project could also advocate for banning cars altogether in downtown Portland. Free TriMet for the whole region, and banning cars, would be ways to (1) be serious about global warming, (2) eliminate the need, with other communities, for President McCain to stay in Iraq until 2013 (or 100 years), and (3) fight air pollution (the original reason Fareless Square was created).

--At last week's board meeting, no one spoke for or against the fare increase. (The meeting wasn't publicized to the public -- violation of Oregon Open Meetings Law?).

--PSU Progressive Student Union has met 4x with the Oregonian Editorial Board (twice on Iraq War, once on PSU commencement speaker choice--they were very interested in that meeting, and once on human rights in Colomba/Coke-Odwalla Boycott, with a union organizer from Colombia, and us). But, the OEB hasn't met with progressive transit activists re: TriMet.

--Fred Hansen (TriMet Ex Dir)'s Admin Asst. says TriMet is still planning to curtail operating hours of Fareless Square downtown. TriMet cancelled plans to curtail Fareless Square, after it publicized two meetings open to the public, and massive opposition was (then) voiced to the proposal (allegedly to fight crime). Almost all of the pre-fare increase TriMet publicity was about crime, not about the fare increase, or when/where the board meeting was.

--So far, Fred Hansen has decline to meet in person with transit activists on the Left in PDX, and, his admin asst hasn't provided email addresses of the current TriMet board members.


So, if any of these areas of concern (or other areas) resonate, and some of us think that transit issues impact a number of other political areas locally, nationally, globally (ecology, Iraq, Exxon profits when there is $4/gallon gas prices, energy policy, etc.), feel free to come to the organizing meeting this Saturday, 8pm, at Laughing Horse Books, 12 NE 10th.

When we've communicated, so far, with TriMet's Hansen's office, we've been emphasizing "public" transit as a public resource, as as part of the Commons. In two op-ed pieces (one by Hansen, one by board chair Passadore) from TriMet that the Oregonian, in 2008, was happy to publish, TriMet officials argued: (1) against an ACLU supported lawsuit to include pro-salmon ads on TriMet busses -- Hansen argued that constituted "controversial" speech, but the courts so far have agreed with the environmentalists ... TriMet busses do advertize, outside, the "controversial" speech of Lars Larson/Rush Limbaugh/their local right wing radio station, now; and (2) that the age for getting an Oregon driver's license should be raised to 21, from 18 -- TriMet board chair Passadore argued in his op-ed piece that this would cut down on car crashes by nervous teenage drivers.

The TriMet board does not seem to be representing transit riders nor the public interest, and local media seem to be enabling the TriMet board's practices, like the highest fare increase in TriMet's history.


PO Box 40011, Portland, Oregon 97240



I ride Trimet on a weekly basis. I am originally from a large East Coast metro area, so I am very familiar with riding Transit for much of my life. I can honestly say between the lack of fare collection and continuous fare increases, Trimet is a disgrace. I cannot quite figure out why people would put up with, what is just blatant taking advantage of the paying customers. Im sorry to inform PDX but this area has a tremendous amount of poverty here and many are riding the transit free. THE HONOR SYSTEM DOES NOT WORK IN PDX. There are commuters that ride the transit here, but it is primarily a more transit dependent crowd here, and we all know it. PDX does not have the huge amount of commuters pouring in from distant communties riding transit as bigger cities do across the country, hence all the traffic here, they drive. I buy a pass or I have booklets of tickets I buy from Trimet. I am fed up with funding all those that do not pay for a ticket. I am more than fed up with Trimet for having allowed this behavior for so many years now, while continuously raising fares. Trimet needs to either collect the proper fares and hire employees to do so. If the proper fare is not collected then a fare increase should not be allowed. Since obviously tons of lost revenue is not being collected, there is no justification for higher fares. If I had any jurisdiction over the politics in this town I would order a complete investigation into Trimet's Financial dealings and its ill treatment of the paying customer. I would seek that a more reputable company or representative take over Trimet and the transit needs of this area.