TriMet agrees to let Boring businesses get off the bus
Withdrawal from TriMet services begins Jan. 2013
TriMet released its 40-year grip on the rural Boring area during the TriMet board's final meeting of the year Wednesday, Dec. 14.
With one member absent, the board voted 6-0 to allow the Boring area to withdraw from the services TriMet provides to hundreds of thousands of urban dwellers.
Other rural areas have previously been allowed to withdraw - communities such as Canby, Molalla, Wilsonville and Sandy. Damascus chose not to be a part of TriMet in 1988.
When the board voted Dec. 14 to remove the Boring area from its district, there was no one else as amazed as Chief Petitioner Steve Bates of Boring.
'I am shocked and elated about this outcome,' he said as the past 15 months of work quickly came to an end. 'I honestly thought we would not get enough votes to permit our withdrawal request.'
Bates said he thought what made the difference was a change of position of the Clackamas County Commission.
Last month, the commission expressed a neutral position when Commissioner Paul Savas spoke to the board. But in a letter dated Tuesday, Dec. 13, and received at the beginning of Wednesday's board meeting, Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Lehan said the commission supports the withdrawal if during the next year TriMet, the county and Boring work together to identify options for those who use TriMet LIFT service.
Bates' testimony showed there are about 20 people in the Boring area who are qualified to use TriMet's LIFT service for disabled people. There are others who live outside Boring but are brought into the Boring area to meet a LIFT bus. Bates said Boring residents shouldn't be paying to serve those people.
Other testimony described the regular bus service as usually empty or with very few passengers.
For example, Jason McHuff testified at the Dec. 14 hearing that allowing Boring to withdraw 'makes the best sense.' He told the board he took a recent joy ride on Line 84 through the Boring-Kelso area.
'After leaving Southeast Gresham,' he said, 'a grand total of one person got on the bus. When I was talking with the operator I proposed that (one boarder) was unusual, but he said usually no one rides the bus out there. And for the record, that (person boarding) did not occur in Boring.'
Board members recognized that Boring is a rural area and is not likely to change to urban anytime soon. Newly seated board member Craig Prosser called the LIFT service issue 'troubling' but said regular bus service to the Boring area is 'terrible.' Since the service can't be improved, he said, Boring should be allowed to withdraw.
Board Chairman Richard Van Beveren summarized the decision the board had to make as a 'tough call.'
Even though board member Steve Clark regretted the fact the board's decision could be opposed to TriMet's goals of serving the public, he said he favors the withdrawal.
'It saddens me to think about a consideration to reduce transportation services to a community,' he said. '(But) I have a very hard time thinking that we are able to serve the Boring area and tax that district approximately $600,000 a year in the context of its rural character.'
TriMet and Clackamas County staff members as well as Bates are planning to find options for Boring's approximately 20 people who are disabled in some way and who have expressed an interest in maintaining some form of transportation.
The withdrawal does not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2013, which gives everyone a full year to arrange for other options.