TRANSIT RIDERS UNION PLANS FARE HIKE AND BUS CUTS PROTEST SATURDAY
TriMet, after the recent fare hike for buses in Jan. for formerly 'Fareless' Square, has announced a nickel fare hike and service cutbacks for 2010. Transit Riders Union meets this Saturday to plan and organize resistance to these neoliberal cutbacks and hikes that target workers, the poor, seniors, and transit dependent riders.
TriMet, after cutting Fareless Square in half by charging for buses in January, 2010 (with a $175 fine if you don't pay for what was free to riders in December!) has announced planned service cuts to many routes in the Metro area, including MAX and bus frequency, along with a nickel fare hike. TriMet plans a series of public hearings over the next few months before implementing the new cuts and the newest fare hike.
Transit Riders Union meets Saturdays, 12 noon, at Chit Chat Cafe, 1906 SW 6th, next to Hot Lips Pizza, at Portland State. This Saturday's meeting will focus on organizing resistance to the TriMet fare hike and service cut proposals.
In Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich talked about the importance of organizing for public space, community and public interest resources (like public transit!). When globalization and neoliberalism target poor communities and communities of color -- on housing, on transit, on school funding, on soldiers for wars abroad -- so-called "small, incremental" changes are used to 'soften' or 'condition' workers and others to accept the neoliberal agenda. For transit riders in 'liberal, progressive' Portland, this means "the frog in boiling water" syndrome: nickel and dime the public to death, into submission, into going along.
In 2009, Transit Riders Union both presented the unelected TriMet board (George Passadore, former regional president of Wells Fargo, has been the unelected TriMet board president for 13 years, and, per the Tribune, has a "private classic car collection" at his villa "next to his party room") -- with 1,400 signatures on petitions against the Fareless Square fare hike and service cutbacks, as well organized a picket of PBA (Portland Business Alliance, the main 'private' instigator of cutting Fareless Square) in November, 2009. The TriMet board voted 6-to-1 (Lynn Lehrbach, with Teamsters, voted with us) to implement the fare hike and service cuts, including charging for buses in what was (for 35 years!) Fareless Square.
[PBA, where we plan to picket again, also was the instigator of the 'sit-lie' attack on poor and homeless people in downtown Portland -- which was overturned by the courts in 2009].
Now, despite Oregon having one of the highest rates of unemploymnent in the country (in the top 5 states for unemployment), where workers, job hunters, students and seniors alike need to access "public" transit -- TriMet continues to dismantle public transit service and accessability in our region -- even as it keeps building more light rail.
At a recent Portland City Council meeting, Randy Leonard declaimed that "TriMet isn't in the city's jurisdiction." This, despite the city of Portland donating $30,000,000 in taxpayer, public money to help build Milwaukie light rail, and the city council expanding free high school bus passes (a good thing!) from 3 to all 10 PPS high schools. Neil Golschmidt, as Portland mayor, before becoming U.S. transportation secretary, championed creating the bus mall in downtown Portland. Portland City Council has more to do with TriMet than any other governmental agency -- despite Randy Leonard's transit jurisdictional rhetoric.
Transit Riders Union organizer, Jason Barbour, in fact, has already filed against Nick Fish in the May, 2010, Portland City Council elections, although local mainstream corporate media so far, has declined to mention Jason's campaign. Activists from PSU recently sent in an op-ed to the Portland Tribune, promoting Jason's city council bid, but the paper chose to print an op-ed that day by Portland mayor Sam Adams on why it is important for Portland to invest $600 million, over the next 20 years, for bikes.
Further on the Right, of course, both John Charles of Portland's libertarian Cascade Policy Institute, and Randall O'Toole (with the Cato Institute) have been critizing public transit from a free market, libertarian perspective. Charles testified recently at a TriMet board meeting that all of Fareless Square should be squashed, including charging for MAX along with buses. 'If something is worth doing, it is worth charging for,' Charles declaimed.
address: PO Box 40011, Portland, Oregon 97240
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion
view discussion from this article