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When bus fares go up in Portland why don't we react like this?




Bus fare hikes have been actively protested in places like Caracas in 1989, etc. Here in Portland, the only activist coalition on TriMet, Transit Riders Union, has initiated the Reedville Cafe Boycott to Elect the TriMet Board and Stop the Fare Hikes and Service Cuts. TRU organizers, so far, have attended 30 TriMet board meetings. The TriMet board is unelected, but appointed by Oregon's governor. When TriMet proposed 86ing Fareless Square, TRU gathered and presented to the board 1,400 transit rider signatures on petitions against the cut (which was also a fare hike). The unlected TriMet board voted 6-to-1 to abolish Fareless Square.

Different business folks have headed up the TriMet board, ie, George Passadore, regional president of Wells Fargo Bank, and Rick Van Beveren, owner of Hillsboro's Reedville Cafe. The Reedville Cafe Boycott was initiated as other avenues of protest have proved futile. The governor continues to appoint people to the board. As noted by KOIN TV6, 50 TriMet managers got huge pay raises. GM Neil MacFarland continues to be non-accountable to riders and the community. TRU also organized a picket of Portland Business Alliance (BPA) as they not only promote sit-lie against the homeless, but supported 86ing Fareless Square. PBA's Bernie Bottomly (an ex TriMet manager) is the PBA's point man on austerity/dismantling TriMet, a move against "the commons."

Transit Riders Union, like PSU Progressive Student Union and Tenant Rights Project, supports pickets, boycotts and direct action which seeks to hold accountable corporations and business alliances that work to 'downsize' the public sector and attack social justice. Some groups, however liberal (like OPALEJO, Rev. Joe's group funded in part by $50K from Metro), will talk 'reform' while supporting (as OPALEJO did) gutting Fareless Square. In Salem, a bill has been proposed to do an "emergency audit" of TriMet (at one point, TriMet had a $2.5 billion budget, counting capital projects), and while that is useful, more direct action and protest is needed to get the state legislature (or an initiative petition) to pass a law that the TriMet board should be elected, not "go along as usual" with austerity measures that attack the public sector (or, literally attack the public square thru Fareless Square's demise).


PO Box 40011, Portland, Oregon 97240

Another Local Resource - OPAL 19.Jun.2013 15:10

Bus Rider and Transit Dependent

OPAL is a local nonprofit that is also doing some important grassroots work on transit and environmental justice issues.


OPAL (Organizing People, Activating Leaders) is located at 2707 S.E. 49th Avenue (at Division), easily accessible to bus lines 4, 14 and 71.

The Bus Riders United! meetings, which are open to all, are held the third Tuesday of the month at the OPAL office from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (A light dinner is served from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.)

There is also a First Saturday organizing meeting every first Saturday of the month at the OPAL office from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Current campaigns that OPAL is working on include: the Campaign for a Fair Transfer (extending transfer times to 3 hours during the day, with unlimited transfers after 7:00 p.m.) and the renewal and extension of the Youth Transit Pass.

Support your fellow transit riders!


LEW CHURCH POB40011@juno.com

It is always interesting to see anonymous posts on IndyMedia vis-a-vis organizing. Asserting groups are individuals, and attacking individuals anonymously, is one way to thwart, or attempt to thwart, activist coalitions. One problem with TriMet board meetings is they tend to be during the day when many people are working. When six of us from Transit Riders Union turned in 1,400 signature petitions to the TriMet board (I personally handed them to the board president), the Oregonian reported that we then "disrupted" the meeting by chanting, "Elect the board, elect the TriMet Board!" when it voted 6 to 1 to abolish Fareless Square. Again, 1,400 people signed our petitions -- not just one person. Like the Coke Boycott at Portland State, where TRU's sister project, PSU Progressive Student Union, brought 3 SINALTRAINAL speakers from Colombia to talk about union organizing -- our organizers have worked on a number of successful projects. For example, we got Taco Bell kicked out of the PSU cafeteria in support of the successful Taco Bell Boycott -- PSU was the 8th college in the U.S. to kick Taco Bell off campus, and Taco Bell then negotiated with CIW workers for a pay raise, in Florida. Progressive Student Union also started PSU Rearguard (Iraq War I, Bush I), and PSU Agitator (Iraq War 2, Bush 2), two Left activist papers at Oregon's largest 4-year college. We also held three conferences at PSU: one with Medea Benjamin on US foreign policy (getting 49 groups in Oregon to endorse the conference with Medea); one on Darfur, Sudan and Genocide (with guest speaker Mohamed Yahya, from Darfur); and one conference on globalization and sweatshops with Executive Director of the WRC, Worker Rights Consortium, Scott Nova, from Washington, D.C.

PO Box 40011, Portland, Oregon 97240