UNION REPS AND TRANSIT ACTIVISTS UNITE WED NITE AT PSU
Two members of the ATU (TriMet drivers union) and Lynn Lehrbach (with the Teamsters in Portland, and a TriMet board member) are expected to attend and talk at this Wednesday night's 6 p.m. Transit Rider Union meeting, on Saving Fareless Square coalition and direct action organizing. 1,500 transit riders have signed petitions to Save Fareless Square, and despite Lynn (on the TriMet board) voting with us, TriMet continues to ignore democracy, the public interest, clean air, global warming, oil wars, and transit equity.
At 6 p.m. on Wednesday night, Dec. 2, three union reps are expected to attend and speak at the coalition pro-transit meeting of PSU Progressive Student Union and Transit Riders Union, to brainstorm on direct action and lobbying approaches to Saving Fareless Square. The TriMet board of directors is not elected by the people, but appointed by Oregon's governor. The board chair, George Passadore, is former regional head of Wells Fargo Bank (which made $6 billion in profit in the first 6 months of 2009). Passadore has a "classic car collection" according to the Portland Tribuen, which he keeps "next to his party room."
Transit organizers picketed PBA (Portland Business Alliance) offices at 200 Market Street in November, to protest PBA's pushing the Fareless Square cutbacks that are supposed to start in January 2010, including a fare hike for buses in Fareless Square. Activists are looking at a second PBA picket, perhaps with direct action, and a picket at the Oregonian (which supports gutting Fareless Square). Clean air, global warming, oil wars, getting people out of their cars, and transit equity are issues at play.
TriMet has a $900,000,000 annual budget, and claims that charging for buses in Fareless Finger (so-called 'Free Rail Zone') will only raise $800,000. TriMet says that crime, the economy, or driver ease (not having to check fares), at different times, are reasons to cut back on Fareless Square. Many transit activists feel the whole system should be free, or at least the Fareless Zone expanded, not cut back; that cars should be banned in downtown Portland; that the TriMet board should be elected by voters, not appointed; and that the Owl buses (a budget cut in the 1980s) should be revived.
Organizers hope to produce and distribute stickers, buttons and posters to downtown businesses and transit riders, to fight the cuts.
More details: firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-222-2974, or come to the Wednesday night meeting at 6 pm at Chit Chat Cafe at PSU, next to Hot Lips Pizza.
address: PO Box 40011, Portland, Oregon 97240
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