TriMet proposes $2.1 million in service improvements for riders

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FY14 budget includes minor bus service fixes to crowded lines

Public comment wanted; General Manager hosts public call-in session

One week from today TriMet Board members will continue their discussion on the proposed Fiscal Year 2014 budget that includes $2.1 million in bus service improvements. TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane unveiled the budget in mid-March, highlighting priorities including minor bus service improvements on a handful of busy lines to relieve overcrowding and to improve schedule reliability. No service cuts or fare increases are planned. While there is still financial uncertainty ahead, TriMet is focusing on improving service for riders where possible.

The initial iteration of the budget included $1.6 million in bus service improvements. However, based on current need and a desire to advance future planned improvements, the agency added $500,000 to this year’s budget. The money to finance these expedited improvements will come from TriMet’s working capital.

Potential service improvements:

  • Slight increases in frequency to relieve passenger crowding:
    – 4-Division/Fessenden (weekends)
    – 12-Barbur/Sandy Blvd (weekend evenings)
    – 33-McLoughlin (weekday evenings)
  • Better connections and increased weekday frequency:
    – 47-Baseline/Evergreen
    Buses run to PCC Rock Creek, via NW174th Ave and Laidlaw Road, instead of running to Sunset TC; more frequent buses between Orenco/ NW 231st Ave MAX station and PCC Rock Creek
    – 48-Cornell
    More frequent rush hour buses between Sunset TC and NW Stucki Ave
    – 94-Pacific Hwy/Sherwood
    Midday express buses added and rush hour local buses added between Tigard TC and Sherwood to improve transfer connections
  •   Time added to present trips to better match schedules with traffic conditions on weekdays and weekends:
    – 6-ML King Jr Blvd
  • Begin service half an hour earlier on weekday mornings:
    – 9-Powell
    – 21-Sandy/223rd Ave
  • Minor weekday schedule adjustments to better match schedules with traffic conditions:
    – 10-Harold St
    – 14-Hawthorne
    – 62-Murray Blvd
    – 36-South Shore
    – 37-Lake Grove

In addition to the bus service improvements, riders will begin seeing more new buses as the agency accelerates its bus purchasing program to replace its aging bus fleet, which has become too unreliable and expensive to maintain.

The key foundation of the $489 million operating budget assumes that the arbitration award for the expired contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union is upheld and TriMet’s offer for the upcoming contract is agreed upon. This would provide some breathing room and the ability to invest in critical infrastructure. The FY14 budget takes effect July 1, 2013.

Comments wanted

The public is invited to comment on the proposed budget at these upcoming meetings:

Conference call with General Manager Neil McFarlane

Multnomah County Tax Supervising and Conservation Commission (TSCC) Hearing on TriMet’s FY14 Budget

  • Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 8 a.m.
    Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave., Room C,  Portland, OR 97204

TriMet Board meetings

  • Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 9:30 a.m.
    Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave., Auditorium,  Portland, OR 97204
  • Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 9:30 a.m.
    Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave., Room C,  Portland, OR 97204

Comments can also be submitted via email at comments@trimet.org, or by phone at 503-238-RIDE (7433).

Union contract negotiations to resume

Last week, the ATU called to resume contract negotiations. TriMet looks forward to resuming negotiations and remains committed to having these bargaining sessions covered by the mainstream media so the public can be informed about the process.

TriMet has offered 29 substantive proposals. There are a number of housekeeping proposals, such as correcting spelling and punctuation errors, and incorporating existing side agreements into the main body of the contract that do not change the wages, hours, benefits or working conditions of employees. TriMet provided its proposal to the ATU and to the public via www.trimet.org/newcontract on November 30, 2012.  The ATU has not released its proposal.

TriMet still faces a future of service cuts and fare increases if the agency does not win the arbitration award challenge and prevail in making reforms in the upcoming contract. If no other reforms are made in the upcoming contract, TriMet will face a $19 million service crisis beginning in FY17 that grows more extensive every year. TriMet is also on a path to pay 47 percent of its base payroll taxes to active and retiree health care benefits by FY2020 if the status quo is maintained.