How is TriMet spending its new transportation package money?

While it’s not clear yet where exactly all of the expected $40 million Trimet will get each year from the new .1% statewide transit payroll tax will be spent, TriMet has already promised 30% of it won’t be going to improving the quality of its service. Up to $12 million has been promised to a new program that will subsidize low-income riders’ fares.

Given the parameters of the program, I wonder if $12 million will be enough money. TriMet is promising a 50% discount in fares for riders that earn up to twice the federal poverty rate. That’s a deep discount for a broad amount of people.

If you listen carefully to what TriMet is saying, they seem to know a new entitlement program is being born. “We have seen the need for a low-income fare program and have worked for more than a year with regional representatives on a low-income fare task force to identify the basic parameters and a sustainable approach to building a regional program,” said Angela Murphy, public information officer for TriMet. “With the recent state transportation package, we are now in a position to successfully build and implement a program that will be responsive and feasible for long-term operation.”

TriMet already had a $1.5 million grant program where they essentially gave tickets to charities for distribution to a narrow and targeted group of needy people. This new program and its 800% increase in cost represents a significant change in policy. If this is what was politically necessary to pass needed freeway improvements, perhaps it was worth it, but I suspect this might be a foot-in-the-door movement in the wrong direction for Oregon, a movement to further lower TriMet’s already low rate of cost-recovery from its riders.

Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of A Brief History of Political Cultural Change.


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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in TriMet | 7 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Bob Clark

    Thanks for following TriMet, Eric. I amazed when I turn 65 years old, I will be able to get half priced fares just for being old. Here’s to the supposed old person who took one for the gipper, and ate dog food, so
    all seniors could get much cheaper public transit tickets. A transfer of wealth from the young to the old, no matter the financial position of the old recipient. TriMet is another element of our whacked out conflicted governance.

    • Eric Shierman

      I’m somewhat disappointing that no one questioned my math in last week’s article for using too low a number. I have to pay $2.50 to ride TriMet, but I used $1.50 as the average price of a fare, because that’s what TriMet’s data says is the average amount paid per trip.

      Also, I’m on the last chapter of that book you recommended for me. I’ll shoot you an email this weekend to discuss it.

      • Bob Clark

        Geez, I missed that too. I only ride TriMet maybe couple times a year. So, chance of being caught times amount of fine of $175 (think it was) so as to equal or exceed $2.50 fare. So, you need a 1.4 in 100 chance of being caught when going without fare. Reminds me of Dirty Harry’s quote: ‘Do you feel lucky today, punk? Well do you?

  • CherryAnn1000

    I guess the question here, Eric, is why it is a STATEWIDE tax, and not just restricted to Portland? I never go to Portland, and most of the rest of the state doesn’t, either, so why are we having to pay this tax, too?

    • Eric Shierman

      That’s a really good point. Though, it’s not just for Portland. Other transit authorities, such as Cherriots in Salem, will be allocated these funds as well, but I don’t think small towns like Fossil, Oregon will see any.

  • 人生短暂,开心每一天!

  • Dave Lister

    Don’t be stupid. They are going to spend it on executive salaries and labor benefits. They don’t give a lusty crap about riders, service or the system.

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