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UPDATE: Regional transit agency will also use additional revenue from the transportation package approved by the 2017 Oregon Legislature to expand bus service and increase security

PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Low-income bus and train riders will pay less under a discount fare program to be started by TriMet.TriMet will start a low-income fare discount program with a portion of the additional revenue it expects to receive from the new transportation funding measure approved by the 2017 Oregon Legislature.

The measure includes a statewide .01 percent payroll tax that will raise an estimated $1 billion a year for transit improvements, excluding light rail projects. TriMet expects to receive up to $40 million a year in additional revenue from the tax. The regional transit agency is planning on spending up to $12 million a year of that revenue to reduce fare for low-income bus and train riders.

As currently planned, the discount program will reduce fare by 50 percent for anyone earning 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level. The discount program has long been a top priority of OPAL Environmental Justice, a low-income advocacy organization with a TriMet rider program.

TriMet says the transportation package will also it to provide better access to the region's employment hubs by expanding bus routes and increasing the frequency of bus service to communities with high concentrations of low-income households, thereby

"Access to public transit is access to economic opportunity. This package represents an investment in Oregon, its economy and its people," says TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane, who thanked the members of the Joint Committee on Transportation and Modernization for their work on the package.

Expanded bus service will be developed based on the extensive public feedback received during TriMet's Service Enhancement Plan process, and with the added service will come an increase in security, says TriMet.

The transportation measure was approved by the Oregon House on Wednesday and the State Senate on Thursday. It now goes to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who approves it.

The measure is expected to raise $5.3 billion a year from a variety of sources when it is fully phased in. The sources include higher gas taxes, higher motor vehicle fees and a $15 tax on adult bikes that cost $200 or more.

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