This spring, I am spending more time in the community meeting with riders at coffees and visits to transit centers.
Last night, Board Member Travis Stovall, Executive Director of Finance Dave Auxier and I had the pleasure of meeting with members of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon and Bus Riders Unite at their office in Southeast Portland.
We had a good discussion about OPAL’s Campaign for a Fair Transfer, which is a proposal to extend the transfer time from two to three hours and provides for a free return trip for riders using the system after 7 p.m.
We heard directly from OPAL members about how extending the transfer times would help offset the impact of fare increases and service cuts, particularly for riders who are transit-dependent. No question, riders throughout the region are experiencing longer wait times, more crowded buses and missed connections.
Wherever I go in region, riders ask for more service, particularly to get access to jobs. Rightly so, transit play a critical role in our local economy. We are committed to increasing service, which is why we have focused on getting our cost structure under control, particularly our employee health care costs.
In the meantime, TriMet will provide OPAL and the public with an updated estimate on what it would cost to implement a 3-hour transfer and a free return trip after 7 p.m. We committed to providing that analysis, based on newer trend data, by the end of June. We requested the opportunity to hold a workshop with OPAL and Bus Riders Unite members to review the proposal in detail in July. We’ll also share the analysis with the TriMet Board of Directors.
Any recommendations to the TriMet Board would happen later this summer.