Nearly 4,600 responses collected over four weeks of outreach and engagement will help shape Forward Together plan, with additional public comment periods held as individual bus line changes roll out
Forward Together, TriMet’s reevaluation and redesign of our bus service, moves into a new phase this week. As part of Forward Together, we took the most in-depth and comprehensive look at our bus network ever. We developed a draft service concept that includes a sweeping re-envisioning of when and where our buses might run to better serve our community, given changes in travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. And then we took that concept to you–our riders, members of the community and the general public–and asked: What do you think? Are we on the right track? Will Forward Together allow more people, especially those with low and limited incomes, more access to our services to reach more jobs and places at more times?
What we heard will now inform a revised Forward Together service plan that we will take to the TriMet Board of Directors for approval in December. If the overall plan is approved, the community will have more opportunities to provide feedback on any of the individual changes we plan to pursue in the future as part of our annual service improvements. Two rounds of outreach and public comment are held annually for our service improvements.
October outreach wraps up
We spent the month of October engaging the community around the ideas presented in the Forward Together draft concept. We hosted a series of more than half a dozen open houses, held in person and virtually, in English and Spanish, across our service area and in partnership with community-based organizations. We also posted details of the concept online and conducted a survey to gain a better understanding of how adjustments included in the concept might impact our riders. Nearly 4,600 people completed the survey, with about 125 responses submitted in languages other than English. In addition, we interacted with some 500 people during open house events, who were invited to speak with a TriMet Service Planner and leave hand-written comments on the concept.
What happens next?
Over the next several weeks, TriMet will review the feedback received with our Forward Together contractor, Jarrett Walker + Associates, and put together a plan based on what we heard. Then, we will present the findings from the survey, as well as a revised service concept, in a resolution to our Board of Directors at their December 14 business meeting. The resolution will request the Board’s approval on the direction of the Forward Together project to date and support for continued development. Additional outreach and public comment periods will come in the future when adjustments to individual bus lines or schedules are proposed as part of our annual service changes.
All meetings of the TriMet Board of Directors are open to the public, and business meetings include a public forum. During the public forum, members of the community can follow steps to offer testimony on any topic for the public record. Testimony can be made in person, virtually when possible and by email at email@example.com.
Moving Forward Together
If the Board approves the Forward Together resolution, TriMet will take the comprehensive plan that we are developing back to our Mobility Planning and Policy, Scheduling and Operations teams to start talking about implementation. The soonest our riders and the public could see any of the changes identified in the Forward Together plan roll out would be September 2023. That will occur as budgets and operator staffing levels allow, but not before the public has opportunities to provide more comment about the individual bus line proposals.
Our goal is for Forward Together to become a guide that shapes annual service improvement plans for years to come. The annual service improvement process includes at least two rounds of public engagement and feedback periods on every proposed bus line change. We will hold more open houses, accept comments online and by phone, as well as provide opportunities for testimony and discussion during regular meetings of the TriMet Board of Directors during those feedback periods.
We are tentatively planning an open house in January 2023, which could include the first proposed Forward Together service adjustments that would go into effect in September 2023. Learn more and follow our process at trimet.org/forward.