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TriMet rates rise, local bus lines cut

TriMet riders can expect changes this fall as agency tries to fill budget gap


Public transit users in Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood will have to pay more the next time they hop on a bus, and that’s not the only changes ahead for their trip.

The TriMet Board of Directors last week approved its 2012-13 budget, which included raising ticket prices to $2.50 per ticket.

The fare increase is part of sweeping changes coming to the transit system to help pay off a $12 million budget shortfall.

Starting Sept. 1, TriMet is doing away with fare zones, which means everyone will pay the same $2.50 for a ticket, no matter how far they travel.

A one-day ticket with unlimited rides will now cost $5. Youth fares will increase 15 cents to $1.65 for a two-hour ticket.

A one-day youth ticket will drop from $5 to $3.30. Honored citizen fares would not change.

The TriMet Board also approved a plan to do away with the Rail-Free Zone (formerly known as Fareless Square).

Closer to home, the board approved changes to its bus lines across the Portland area, including changes to three local bus routes.

Bus Line 12, the far-reaching line that stretches from Sherwood to Gresham will see its Sherwood service cut, running only between Tigard and Parkrose transit centers. Line 94 would connect riders from Sherwood to the Tigard Transit Center.

During weekday rush hours, Line 94 express service between Sherwood and downtown Portland will also continue, but a stop in Tigard will be added.

Mary Fetsch, TriMet spokeswoman told The Times in April that the change is meant to improve schedule reliability.

“With the Line 12 running such a far distance between Sherwood and Gresham, it was often late,” she said.

Two other area bus lines will also see cuts.

TriMet cut trips on two Tualatin routes based on low ridership.

Bus Line 36, which runs from Tualatin Park and Ride to downtown Portland would see some trips cut, including the 5:52 a.m., 6:20 a.m. and 6 p.m. departures from the Tualatin stop. A trip in the afternoon would be added from Portland to Tualatin.

Bus Line 37, which runs from Tualatin to Lake Osego will have its 5:37 p.m. trip from Tualatin Park and Ride eliminated, along with the 5:54 p.m. run from the Lake Oswego Transit Center.

The transit agency had initially suggested even more cuts for the area, including cutting stops on local bus lines 38, 44, 45, 92 and 94 earlier this year, but those cuts were removed when TriMet revised its budget.

The decision comes after more than eight months of discussion on what to do about TriMet’s troublesome budget.

Public meetings drew a record-breaking 5,100 people and 16,000 written comments on the plans.

In total, the cuts are expected to save TriMet about $12 million.

TriMet needs to cut a big chunk from its $400 million operating budget to make up for weak payroll tax proceeds, reduced federal funding and the costs of a labor arbitration deal TriMet is in with its labor union.

When the budget process started, TriMet faced a $12 million to $17 million shortfall, but state law requires TriMet to have a balanced budget in place by the end of the month, before the labor union negotiations are resolved.

“During this budget process, the agency faced many tough choices, but we believe this is a responsible and sound budget,” said TriMet Board President Bruce Warner. “It reflects the public and the board’s priority to preserve service and navigate the financial uncertainties ahead.”

The approved budget will help save money, but TriMet officials stress that depending on how arbitration goes, the agency could face an additional $5 million to $10 million more reductions in the 2013-14 fiscal year.