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Some favor rate increase over removal of line

With the threat of TriMet's bus line 30 being eliminated, the citizens of Estacada mobilized as a petition began to circulate.

The petition, which had already garnered 120 signatures in two days, was in response to a report that the Estacada bus route was one of 16 on TriMet's chopping block to make up for a projected budget shortfall.

For residents such as Mary Whitney, the issue of having a bus has nothing to do whether it benefits her or not.

'My goal in starting this was to help the people around here,' she said. 'I have lived here for 20 years, and while it doesn't benefit me, I'm just trying to do some good.'

As part of her plan, Whitney and other local residents have put together a town hall meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, at Estacada City Hall.

For other residents such as Currinsville Store owner Phyllis Brinkley, the issue of losing TriMet service is much more personal.

'If they cut this stuff, it's going to start impacting everyone who lives in this area,' she said. 'We have the deli right up here where the bus stops, and of the 38 homes right behind us, I would say that half or two-thirds of those people use (the bus) daily to get to work or go to the store.'

For Brinkley, the removal of the bus also would hurt her business - so, like Whitney, she supports the idea of raising fares if necessary.

'If they have to raise the fares, it would be better than taking it away totally,' she said. 'Especially if they could find a happy medium since Estacada is already a distressed area.'

From the perspective of a daily rider, Teresa Ryan has her own issues.

Ryan, a medical assistant, lives in Milwaukie and takes the bus into Estacada on days of inclement weather.

'I don't like driving on bad roads for safety reasons,' she said. 'I used to take the bus every day since it only costs $2.10 each way.'

Ryan, however, admits that in the morning she is typically the only person left on the bus by the time she gets off in front of City Hall.

In addition to commuters such as Ryan, there are people like Portland artist Alex Ferguson who ride the bus to run errands or visit friends.

'If this bus line were taken away, I'd have to hitchhike to come out and visit my friend,' he said. 'I'm a self-employed artist who lives near Beaverton, and initially it only cost me $1 to get out here.

'For people without a car, this is perfect, so even if they have to cut it to a few that run in the morning and in the evening, it's better than nothing.'

Aside from the financial impact, the administrator for the Estacada Chamber of Commerce, Connie Redmond, asks TriMet to think about the environmental impact.

'If we're trying to go green, now is not a good time to be pulling services,' she said. 'That, to me, is a no-brainer.

'But losing this would also affect our tourism industry greatly because we have bicycle riders who ride the bus out here. Not only that, though, I would like to ask (TriMet) to come out and be in our shoes to see what it's like to live out here with people who are dependant on public transportation,' she said.

Redmond rode the bus for 21 years while working in Portland.

While most people agree that keeping the bus line is the top priority, even if it means fare increases, there are some who still have questions.

For local resident Ed Ahrens, the question of cost is paramount.

'For what we pay, is this really worth it?' he asked. 'I wonder how many people come all the way into Estacada out of the 540 daily riders that TriMet cited.'

The question of cost is a big one as communities including Damascus have removed TriMet because of the enormous taxes.

With the future of Estacada's place in TriMet still in question, however, citizens are asked to come to the town hall meeting on Thursday. The organizers are working to get a TriMet representative to attend the meeting.

'People need to come out and listen, but the big thing is that we need people to be calm and professional,' Redmond said.

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