TriMet releases Fiscal Year 2017 proposed budget that expands bus service, improves system reliability and adds 50 new buses

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Budget includes a 4 percent increase in bus service and no fare increase

TriMet today released its Fiscal Year 2017 proposed budget that continues investment in expanding bus service, improving MAX reliability and adding 50 new buses to the fleet. The FY2017 budget priorities also include $11.6 million to improve MAX tracks, switches and signals and improve reliability on segments along the original 30-year old alignment. For the fifth year in a row, there is no adult fare increase; plus no increase for any other fare category.

Bus service hours will increase 4.3 percent in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

Bus service hours will increase 4.3 percent in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2017 budget.

“With this budget, we’ll deliver more bus service, and upgrade some of the oldest MAX segments to improve reliability and service to our riders,” said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane.

The FY2017 budget keeps TriMet on solid financial footing, allowing us to expand service to meet the growing demand for transit, and keep our commitments to our employees, retirees, riders and payroll taxpayers.

Highlights of the $511 million operating budget:

Bus service expansion

TriMet plans to add service in September and March over the next 10 years, funded in part from the increase in the employer payroll tax that is being phased in over the next decade. Service priorities include improving reliability, better matching rider demand, connecting people with jobs, service that starts earlier and ends later, and easing crowding. For FY2017:
• Bus service hours will increase 4.3 percent.
• This means riders will see more bus service on both weekdays and/or weekends on eight bus lines: 4, 32, 36, 63 and 71 in September; lines 20, 21 and 155 in March 2017.
• We’ll also add trips to reduce crowding and improve schedule reliability.

Other budget priorities in the FY2017 budget:

More new buses

We continue to accelerate our bus purchase program with 50 new buses in FY2017. By the end of the fiscal year, TriMet will have a total of 376 buses on the road that have been purchased since 2012 and the average age of the entire fleet reduced to about nine years. All our buses are now air conditioned and have security cameras.

Improving the ride — making transit better

We’re improving the ride and our rail reliability by investing in upgrading tracks, signals and switches along some of the original 30-year old segments of the MAX line. During FY2017 we’ll:
• Replace switches and realign the trackway at the Rose Quarter beginning in August 2016. (This follows similar work along 1st Avenue in Downtown Portland set to be completed this May).
• Replace switches and reconstruct rail at SW 11th Avenue in Downtown Portland in 2017.
• Complete design for reconstructing MAX trackway over the Steel Bridge (construction will take place in FY2018).
• Begin a four-year replacement of overhead power contact wire on the original MAX Blue Line between Cleveland Ave in Gresham to Lloyd Center.
• Upgrade and repair platform areas at Gresham City Hall and Washington Park stations.
• Begin a multi-year effort to design and upgrade the oldest elevators on the MAX lines, some 30-years old.
• Complete infrastructure work and begin early testing for the electronic fare system Hop Fastpass™ that will launch in 2017.

Safety enhancements

• TriMet is in the third year of a five-year program to replace analog closed-circuit television (CCTV) equipment on older buses and MAX trains. Newer vehicles are already equipped with digital technology.
• Annual operator recertification continues for the sixth consecutive year for every bus operator.
• Pedestrian crossings will be improved along the MAX Blue Line to help riders be more aware of an approaching train. Crossings improvements will be made at NW Division and NE Hood streets in Gresham, and in Beaverton (at SW 170th Ave) and in Hillsboro (at SW 185th and SE 10th).

Wages

For the fourth time in nearly seven years, non-union employees will see up to a 3 percent wage increase based on performance and overall compensation. There is no union wage increases included in the proposed budget. Union employees received a 3 percent wage increase in FY2015 and FY2016 that was negotiated in the latest contract. The budget allows for these adjustments.

Next Steps

TriMet will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 9 a.m at the Portland Building. The public can also weigh in on the budget beginning today through mid-May via email, 503-238-RIDE (7433) or TTY 7-1-1. The TriMet Board of Directors is scheduled to adopt the budget on Wednesday, May 25, 2016.

The FY2017 budget takes effect on July 1, 2016 and runs through June 30, 2017.