TriMet Board adopts FY13 budget that includes internal cuts, plus fare changes and service cuts to close $12 million shortfall

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After nearly eight months of extensive public outreach that resulted in an unprecedented 16,000 comments, the TriMet Board of Directors today adopted the agency’s Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) budget. The $458 million operating budget that begins July 1, 2012, includes internal efficiencies, fare changes and service cuts to close a $12 million shortfall.

The shortfall stems from the slow economic recovery, potential cuts in federal operating funds and the unresolved union contract. When the budget process started, TriMet faced a $12 million to $17 million shortfall in the FY13 budget. The agency targeted $12 million in cuts due to the unsettled labor contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union. Depending on the outcome of arbitration, TriMet may need to cut an additional $5 million during the FY13 budget.

Board President Bruce Warner said, “During this budget process, the agency faced many tough choices but we believe this is a responsible and sound budget. It reflects the public and the Board’s priority to preserve service and navigate the financial uncertainties ahead.”

Internal efficiencies save $1.2 million

TriMet made internal cuts, including layoffs, to minimize service cuts and impact to riders.

Fare & Service changes

Elimination of fare zones and creating flat fare system adds $6 million in revenue

The zone system was created 30 years ago in an attempt to charge for distance-based trips that typically started in the suburbs and ended in Downtown Portland. It kept fares lower for minority and low-income riders who lived in the central city. Over time, travel patterns shifted throughout the region, and demographics also changed with most minority and low-income riders living further away from the central city and making longer trips. Moving to a flat fare system makes it simpler for riders.

Flat fare system Current  Flat Fare effective
Sept. 1, 2012
2-hour Adult fare $2.10/$2.40 $2.50
Adult day ticket w/unlimited rides $5.00 $5.00
2-hour Youth fare $1.50 $1.65
Youth day ticket w/unlimited rides $5.00 $3.30
2-hour Honored Citizen fare $1.00 $1.00
Honored Citizen day ticket w/unlimited rides $5.00 $2.00

For complete fare changes, visit http://trimet.org/pdfs/news/fare-change-9-1-2012.pdf.

Elimination of the Free Rail Zone saves $2.7 million

Effective September 1, 2012, fares are required on MAX in Downtown Portland and the Lloyd District. This change results in $2.7 million in savings.

Bus service cuts and changes result in $1.1 million savings

Effective Sunday, September 2, 2012, bus service will be changed. Learn more about planned changes to bus service:

15 bus lines will be reconfigured

Route segments that overlap with other routes will be eliminated while maintaining service to an area. This may mean more transfers for some riders on these 15 bus lines: 6, 8, 9, 12, 16, 17, 47, 48, 67, 70, 73, 77, 82, 87 and 89. Line 9-Powell will travel only as far west as Downtown Portland; Line 17 will be combined with the former 9-Broadway to become the 17-Holgate/Broadway. The final Line 16 routing will travel along Front Avenue to Kittridge Avenue with service to St. Johns and Sauvie Island.

2 bus lines will have routing changes

Line 15 will be extended between Montgomery Park and the NW Industrial area. Routing along Line 43 will be modified in Downtown Portland.

8 bus lines will have low-ridership trips eliminated

Low-ridership trips on 8 bus lines will have service either begin later in the morning and/or end earlier in the evening, and may include extending time between trips: 15, 18, 36, 37, 43, 50, 55 and 59.

7 bus lines will have trips added to alleviate overcrowding 

TriMet will add trips to 7 bus lines to respond to overcrowding: 4, 9, 33, 35, 44, 76 and 94.

LIFT paratransit service boundary adjustments save $400,000

TriMet will adjust the LIFT paratransit service boundaries to match nearby regular bus/MAX service. This change is in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. Six LIFT paratransit service boundaries will be created: weekdays, Saturday, Sunday and all respective evenings. LIFT trips would only be provided if there is nearby fixed-route bus or rail service in operation during that time. This change still keeps TriMet service exceeding ADA standards. It saves $400,000 a year.

TriMet’s reduces contribution to the Portland Streetcar by $300,000

TriMet will reduce its contribution by $300,000 to help fund the Portland Streetcar operations.

Fares changes take effect on September 1, 2012; service changes take effect September 2, 2012.

Board policy on the budget

During today’s meeting, the board also directed staff to continue to look into suggestions from the public made during the budget process, including low income mitigation strategies, development of a convention pass, TriMet’s role in the Portland Public School Youth Pass program and aligning LIFT boundaries with fixed route service.

Budget  Background

Stagnant economy

With the slow jobs recovery, TriMet expects to receive about $3 million less in payroll tax revenues than previously anticipated.

Federal operating funds

TriMet estimates a $4 million cut in federal formula funds that are used for preventive maintenance; the agency receives $40 million to $45 million annually.

Union contract 

The unresolved union contract adds $5 million to $10 million to the FY13 budget shortfall. The contract expired in 2009 and a ruling in the interest arbitration is expected in late July 2012.