TriMet should be more responsive
Ive heard people say that you cant truly understand a city without using its public transportation system. For the Portland metro area, that brings good news and bad news.
Portland has been ranked first in the nation for public transit based on the wide variety of travel options and high ridership. However, for residents of Troutdale, Gresham and other areas within the TriMet service area, the story isnt so sunny.
East County residents who rely on TriMet as their sole mode of transportation are facing challenges getting to the store to buy groceries, traveling to work and school, and taking their children to the doctor. Thats why Im pushing to improve our public transportation system so that it is more responsive to the needs of our communities.
Ive spent a decade working to improve TriMet service in East County, and now as a first-term state representative Im calling on Secretary of State Kate Brown to conduct an unprecedented audit of TriMets operations and finances.
Its time to get to the bottom of the complaints being leveled against our public transit agency and to take action that will improve this essential community service.
I grew up in Portland and relied on TriMet to get around the city. Later, I focused on transit issues as a graduate student at Portland State University.
Now, as I push the state Legislature to address the lack of oversight and problematic decision-making plaguing TriMet, Im proud to bring my experience as a longtime rider, supporter and student of mass transit in the Portland metro area.
When I was a member of the Troutdale City Council from 2003 to 2006, I heard from many local residents who had complaints about the lack of service in East County. I worked with the community and other local leaders to develop a plan for an express bus between Mount Hood Community College and the downtown Portland bus mall, additional service on Burnside and an extension of the Glisan line from the Rockwood Transit Center to Mount Hood Community College.
I raised these concerns and offered suggestions to a representative from TriMet, but the service provided to East County did not improve.
In Oregon, we expect a high level of transparency from public service agencies, and I believe that the Legislature, which helped create TriMet, must act now to ensure that questions about TriMets decision-making are answered and that service is improved.
To that end, I introduced House Bill 3316, which initially proposed changing TriMets governance model to increase the agencys responsiveness to riders and taxpayers. Ive since amended that proposal to call for an overdue, in-depth and unbiased review of the agencys operations and finances.
With an operating budget in the hundreds of millions and an almost continuous growth in ridership, TriMet must be held accountable and answerable to its riders. We deserve to know that future fare increases are determined by need, not by financial mismanagement. We need to know that operations decisions are not being driven by outdated plans, which have left us with a downtown-centered system with inadequate service in the suburbs.
My proposed audit would enable TriMet leadership, riders and members of the Legislature to take a hard look at the agencys finances and operations in order to see where we can make changes that will improve the system as a whole.
Whether the right course of action turns out to be shifting TriMets governance system, giving riders more access and influence on decisions, or something else entirely, we need to start the conversation.
I am committed to improving service for Troutdale, Gresham, and the rest of East County its time for our transit agency to bring good news to all parts of its service area.
State Rep. Chris Gorsek represents District 49, which includes Gresham, Fairview, Troutdale and Wood Village.Add a comment