TriMet board considers extending transfer time by 30 minutes

Posted in TriMet News

If approved, change would adjust transfer time from 2 hours to 2.5 hours

If the TriMet board of directors approves, TriMet will extend the transfer time from two hours to 2.5 hours for all bus and train trips. The change would allow more time for riders who transfer between lines. The board will consider the proposal at its monthly meeting on Dec. 11. If approved, the change would take effect on March 1, 2014, the same day that TriMet is restoring midday Frequent Service on 10 bus lines.

TriMet’s transfer policy requires that a customer need only board the last vehicle of their trip before their transfer/ticket expires; they do not need to complete their trip before it expires. The change would also provide an additional benefit for riders taking short distance trips in that more would be able to complete a round trip on a single fare with the additional time allotted.

Background
The issue of extending transfer time has been raised by the community advocacy group OPAL, which proposed extending transfer times from the current two hours to three hours, and allow transfers issued after 7 p.m. to be valid through the end of the service day. Given tight budgets over the past several years, TriMet did not have the ability to consider the proposal.

Since then, TriMet continued to meet with OPAL and other stakeholders to consider the impact of the proposal. This included TriMet hiring ECONorthwest to provide an independent financial review of the proposal, which was recently updated with new travel data.

ECONorthwest’s updated cost analysis was released in July 2013 entitled “Revenue Impacts of Proposed Changes to TriMet’s Transfer Policy” that estimated TriMet’s net revenue reduction would be between $2 million to $3.5 million annually if it implemented OPAL’s proposal.

At its October retreat, the board extensively reviewed the transfer proposal as well as other fare issues. At that time, general consensus was reached to drop the “unlimited rides after 7 p.m.” portion of the OPAL proposal due to enforcement ambiguities. At its November meeting, the Board asked that the Ordinance be advanced for consideration with a change to 2.5 hour transfer.

Given limited resources, there are no independent financial decisions. To balance the expected revenue loss of the proposal – $1.2 million – future budgets would need to be adjusted. One source which funds the proposal is a reduced appropriation to the Low Income Fare Mitigation Program aligning the budget with the current demand experienced by the program to date. This would provide approximately $800,000, leaving a gap of $400,000 to be closed in the FY14-15 Budget.

The board will hold a public hearing and first reading of the Ordinance at its Dec. 11 meeting. The board would then vote on the Ordinance at its Jan. 22 meeting.