Saving Transit by Shrinking TriMet

TriMet_bus.serendipityThumbIn the past eight years, the all-funds budget for TriMet has gone up by 125%, but transit service has dropped by 14%. This trend will only get worse. In what future historians likely will refer to as a suicide note, TriMet recently predicted that within seven years, much of its bus service will have to be cancelled due to the high costs of operation.

Several bills have been introduced in the legislature to address this problem. Rep. Chris Gorsek (D-Troutdale) is sponsoring HB 3316 to expand the TriMet board and change the board composition. This bill is tentatively scheduled for a hearing on April 15.

Sen. Alan Olsen (R-Canby) has sponsored SB 826, which would allow local jurisdictions to leave TriMet at any time, for any reason.

Both bills actually could be combined. A more diverse board could bring better oversight, and allowing cities or counties to leave the district (as Wilsonville, Sandy, and Canby already have) would encourage innovation and reduce TriMet’s unsustainable operating costs.

After 44 years, it’s time to admit that TriMet has failed. Its cost structure is too high and cannot be reformed. The policy objective from now on should be to serve transit riders, not the TriMet bureaucracy. Transit advocates should speak forcefully to these points at the April 15th hearing in Salem.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

Learn more at cascadepolicy.org.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Transportation, TriMet | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Huge salaries and benefits for all connected to Tri-Met should be capped. then maybe service can be restored.

  • Oregon Engineer

    And what is wrong with the notion that TRI-MET needs to be killed and replaced with a private bus system. Problem solved. not taxes to support a government transportation system heavily staffed with union workers whose union knows the taxpayers have deep pockets to provide unlimited benefits to union members.
    No huge overhead to support. paid for by the users of the bus system. It will either become profitable or some other transportation service will replace it and offer better, lower cost solutions.

  • poorwilly

    How will I be able to ride to places to rob that light rail won’t take me?

  • LibsDeserveDeath

    TriMet should have had a publicly elected Board of Directors years ago; rather than a bunch of politician-appointed political hacks and campaign donors.

  • T. Partee

    Try making a budget TriMet is ludicrous and Metro superfluous. The former definitely needs pairing back and the latter given a pink slip.

    • T. Partee

      OK, it’s ‘paring’ back. Meanwhile what a costly pair to draw to, TriMet and Metro, both excessively taxing entities! .

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