Neil McFarlane is TriMet’s general manager.
On Thursday, January 12, at 6 p.m., I will be hosting a live town-hall-style chat on Twitter, to help answer your questions about TriMet’s budget issues and how they might affect you. You can participate by using the #askneil hashtag.
Back in October, I first posted about the budget shortfall we’re expecting in the next fiscal year—the result of a stagnant economy, cuts in federal funding, and the unsustainable costs of benefits for union employees.
At this point we’re still looking at a gap between $12 million and $17 million, which means we’ll have some tough choices to make in the coming months.
In mid-December, we began a new conversation with the community about TriMet’s budget challenges. We launched an interactive website (trimet.org/choices) to help educate riders and the public about how our budget works and let people weigh in with a “what would you do?” exercise. It spells out options for raising revenue and cutting costs in three areas: fares, service and internal efficiencies. If you haven’t already done so, I invite you to learn about the issues and share your feedback today.
This Twitter chat is one part of a broad community outreach effort that includes the online resources I mentioned above, open houses and a series of meetings with business leaders, community groups and other stakeholders.
I wish this conversation was a more positive one, given that demand for transit service is at an all-time high and transportation plays such a critical part in making our region a great place to live. But I want to make sure you know the facts about our financial situation, what our options are, and how you might be affected. Please join me January 12!