TriMet to expand service, increase security presence, launch low-income fare program and add more new buses

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FY 2019 proposed budget reflects increased revenue from passage of HB 2017 and no fare increase

TriMet today released its Fiscal Year 2019 proposed budget that reflects the agency’s continued investment in expanding bus service, improving MAX performance and stations, enhancing safety and increasing TriMet Code enforcement. The $710.1 million operating budget also includes the launch of a low-income fare program, the addition of five all-electric buses and the electrification of a bus route, the return of 24-hour service including service to Portland International Airport, and the purchase of 64 new buses. What the FY 2019 budget does not include is a fare increase. For the sixth year in a row, TriMet does not plan to raise the Adult fare.

House Bill 2017, the comprehensive transportation package passed by Oregon lawmakers in July 2017, establishes an employee payroll tax dedicated to transit improvements. TriMet expects about $26 million in additional funds as early as January 2019, with some $55-$60 million expected annually. That money will establish a funding stream for a low-income fare program as well as help our ambitious efforts to grow service. TriMet began a 10-year expansion of transit service in 2016 paid for by revenues generated by the employer payroll tax. More than $7.2 million in service improvements in FY 2019 focus on increasing reliability, connecting people with jobs, expanding service hours and easing crowding.

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS

Service expansion

On the heels of the launch of three new bus lines earlier this month, TriMet plans to add two new bus lines in FY 2019, including all night service to Portland International Airport, and other service improvements. Bus service hours will increase by 4.7 percent, with service expansions coming in September 2018 and March 2019. That’s the largest annual increase in bus service since 2014.

Two new bus lines will be added:

  • A new route, Line 272, will connect Line 20 service on Burnside to Portland International Airport during the overnight hours when the MAX Red Line is not running. This will provide 24-hour service to the airport.
  • A new line, Line 31, will run between Clackamas Town Center and Oregon City.

Other lines will have routes extended and/or adjusted to create better community connections:

  • Line 4-Division/Fessenden will split into two lines to increase reliability and help buses stay on time.
  • Line 24-Fremont will extend to travel over the Fremont Bridge and into Downtown Portland to make new connections with MAX Blue and Red lines as well as other bus lines. Buses also will come more frequent and weekend service will be added.
  • Line 79 will get a more direct route between Clackamas Town Center and Oregon City to improve trip times.

Some bus lines will get more service on weekdays and/or weekends, others will see earlier and/or later service added:

  • Line 20-Burnside/Stark will operate 24 hours a day and see an increase in frequency between Beaverton and downtown Portland.
  • Line 57-TV Hwy/Forest Grove will operate 24 hours a day.
  • Lines 61, 64, 66 and 68 will have service expanded with trips running earlier and later during commuting hours.
  • Line 73-122nd Ave, which runs between Parkrose/Sumner Transit Center and SE 94th and Foster Road, will have trips added to meet increasing rider demand.

More new buses

TriMet will continue our fleet renewal through purchasing 64 new buses in FY 2019. Most of those buses – 39 – will replace older vehicles with the remaining 25 for the ongoing service expansion projects. TriMet will also take delivery of 77 new LIFT paratransit vehicles in FY 2019. Of those, 67 will replace older vehicles.

Electric buses

TriMet launches a test of the newest electric bus technology and electrifies our Line 62-Murray Blvd route in FY 2019. We will be using a $3.4 million federal grant to purchase five battery electric buses and the supporting charging infrastructure equipment. This pilot project will give us firsthand experience with the newest technology and help guide plans for a future full fleet transition to alternative fuel buses.

MAX improvements

Design and environmental analysis will continue in FY2019 as part of our plan to extend MAX Red Line service into Hillsboro in future years, along with making track improvements at Gateway Transit Center and near Portland International Airport.

TriMet’s improvements of MAX Blue Line stations will continue in FY 2019. The FY 2019 proposed budget includes station renovations along with the replacement of some of our oldest elevators. The elevators at Hollywood/NE 42nd Avenue Transit Center, NE 60th Ave and NE 82nd Ave stations have been in use since the MAX Light Rail began service in 1986.

Low-income fare program

TriMet will launch its low-income fare program July 1, 2018, the first day the FY2019 budget takes effect. Under the program, individuals who earn up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level will qualify for an Honored Citizen Fare. TriMet’s Honored Citizen fare is currently $1.25, which is half the cost of an Adult Fare. Our low-income fare project team is working to build out the program’s new database, registration process, and outreach and marketing plan in advance of that.

Security and safety enhancements

TriMet’s FY 2019 proposed budget increases the Safety & Security Division budget by $3.5 million or more than 13 percent to an overall more than $30.2 million.

  • A contract with Portland Patrol Inc. will add as many as 30 transit peace officers to provide additional security presence while enforcing TriMet Code, including fare requirements.
  • We are in the fourth year of a five-year program to replace analog closed-circuit television (CCTV) equipment on older buses and MAX trains with digital technology.
  • Federally mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) upgrades will continue on WES Commuter Rail. While safety features are already in use to prevent WES trains from exceeding safe speeds on curves and bridges, the upgrade to PTC will further control trains in order to prevent crashes. We are currently in the testing phase of PTC equipment, which will be fully operational before the federal deadline of December 31, 2018.
  • Pedestrian crossing improvements will continue along the MAX Blue Line in Beaverton, Hillsboro and Gresham.

Wages

The FY 2019 proposed budget includes a non-union merit budget of 3.5 percent as well as a 1 percent pool targeted specifically to address identified pay equity issues. It also includes a 3.25 percent increase for all union employees as negotiated in the contract approved in December 2017, in addition to union step increases.

Comment

The public can view the proposed budget at trimet.org/plan/budget and provide their feedback through late April. Submit comments at:

  • comments@trimet.org
  • 503-238-RIDE (7433) or TTY 7-1-1
  • TriMet Board of Directors meeting
    9 a.m., Wednesday, March 28, 2018
    World Trade Center Building, Plaza Conference Room
    121 SW Salmon St., Portland, OR 97204.

The TriMet Board of Directors is scheduled to adopt the budget on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. The FY 2019 budget takes effect on July 1, 2018 and runs through June 30, 2019.