Estacada Line 30 is among the agency's 16 lines with the lowest ridership per hour
TriMet's budget problems could affect riders in East Clackamas County if the agency's board cannot find a viable solution to a projected shortfall of $12 million to $17 million in the next fiscal year, beginning July 1.
Line 30 between Estacada and Clackamas is one of 16 lines that are under the magnifier as low-ridership lines, and that makes any of those lines subject to possible alteration or elimination to reduce costs.
This measure is one of few options now on the desk of TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane.
'We have already cut $60 million from past budgets, but our financial challenges remain,' McFarlane said. 'We face some tough decisions ahead, and everything is on the table as we look to take corrective actions to close our budget gap and realign our cost structure.'
But TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch says, 'While we listed 16 bus lines with the lowest ridership as part of the budget discussion guide, it's too soon to know if or how those lines might be affected.'
TriMet managers began exploring options three months earlier than their usual practice, Fetsch said, allowing time for public comments, discovery of more options and the possible resolution of a two-year-long labor dispute.
The only options being considered now are ways to reduce costs or increase fares. And the cost reduction option could reduce the service area covered by lines with fewer riders.
Estacada's Line 30 has a significant number of total rides per day, but not when counted per hour. That divide is accounted for partially because the bus is likely used more during commute hours, even though it operates throughout the day.
Line 30 likely has more riders per hour in the areas nearer Clackamas rather than the rural parts of the route nearer Estacada. That could make the line vulnerable for an alteration, eliminating the eastern portions of the route.
TriMet is looking for the views of its riders and has set several open houses to discuss budget-reduction options. But those meetings won't occur until the board has developed a plan - which will be made public at its Feb. 8 briefing.
The bottom line, however, is fairly restrictive in its options, Fetsch said.
'TriMet has limited options to close its budget gap - cut costs, including service, or increase fares,' she said.
For more information, call Fetsch at 503-962-6403.