Moving toward Frequent Service restoration

by

Good news ahead for riders – TriMet is moving forward on plans to restore some Frequent Service bus service. The 12 Frequent Service bus lines are the workhorses of the system, carrying some 58 percent of daily riders.

Before the Great Recession and service cuts to close budget shortfalls, Frequent Service lines ran every 15 minutes or better throughout most hours of the day, every day. Now, these lines run at 17 minutes or better frequency only during rush hour, and 17-20 minute frequency most other hours. That’s made it harder for riders to make timely connections and transfers, especially transit dependent and low-income riders.

TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane today told the Board of Directors that restoring the complete Frequent Service network would cost $7.8 million. While the agency does not have the resources to restore all Frequent Service, McFarlane will propose $2.8 million worth of service restoration at the September 25 Board meeting. The added service would become effective in March 2014. “The priority will be on buses and corridors with the most transit-dependent riders,” he said.

This service restoration is on top of $2.1 million in improvements made in September 2013 to 20 bus lines and the addition of a new bus line between Sherwood and Tigard to better serve Washington County.

Importance of Frequent Service network
Our Frequent Service lines benefits all riders, but especially low income and transit dependent riders. More transit dependent and low-income riders travel in off-peak hours, where service is less frequent and buses and trains are more crowded. Restoring Frequent Service throughout the day and evening will help provide better access to jobs, education and community services. It also supports regional land use goals and creates strong transit corridors.

Funding sources
The service will be funded by $1 million in non-union health care cost savings and $1 million in additional revenue from a new advertising contract. TriMet fares will fund the balance of $800,000.

McFarlane noted that all of the budget costs must hold to forecast levels and that revenues come in as projected. The plan must also fit into the Board’s Strategic Financial Plan currently being finalized.

Next steps
TriMet is currently analyzing which Frequent Service bus lines should be improved next spring, with a focus on how to most benefit transit dependent riders.

The TriMet Board will consider the $2 million expenditure at its Sept. 25 business meeting. Riders and the public will be able to weigh in on the proposal following the meeting on the 25th.

As plans are developed, updates will be posted on our website. By late October the lines will be finalized, and the work to implement the service improvements will begin.