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Boring resists TriMets chopping block

Opponents fear premature loss of LIFT service

The ax is poised to fall. TriMet is facing a projected budget shortfall of $12 million to $17 million in the next fiscal year, beginning July 1.

TriMet officials say they are only evaluating possible changes, but one of the options is altering or eliminating Line 84 to Boring.

TriMet has a list of 16 lines with low ridership throughout its three-county district. While most of those lines are on the west side of the Willamette River, two are in East Clackamas County: Boring's Line 84 and Estacada's Line 30.

The idea of eliminating Line 84 before the designated withdrawal time is unparalleled and illegal, according to Steve Bates, chief petitioner for the recently approved withdrawal ordinance.

Exclusion of Line 84, Bates said, will, by TriMet rule, eliminate LIFT service to about 20 disabled clients in the Boring area prior to the Jan. 1, 2013, effective date of the withdrawal ordinance.

'According to the testimony and the record of the proceedings leading up to the withdrawal ordinance adoption,' Bates wrote to a TriMet staffer, 'it was made perfectly clear that there would be one year for all to develop alternate transportation for the people who rely on the current service.'

And then Bates became very direct in his statement, telling TriMet what it could do and could not do.

'As long as TriMet is collecting taxes in Boring,' he wrote, 'the service will remain the same until the effective date of withdrawal, Jan. 1, 2013.'

Altering or eliminating routes 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 the less-efficient lines with fewer riders.

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.

Public comments in the next three weeks (until Feb. 8) are critical to developing the plan, and can be delivered to TriMet by phone, 503-238-7433, option No. 5; by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; by USPS mail to Budget Feedback, TriMet MK2, 4012 S.E. 17th Ave., Portland, 97202; by fax at 503-962-6451; or by TTY at 503-962-5811.

The bottom line, however, is pretty restrictive in its options, according to Fetsch.

'TriMet has limited options to close its budget gap,' she said, 'cut costs, including service, or increase fares.'

For more information, call Fetsch at 503-962-6403.

The timeline

Going forward, TriMet officials have suggested the following schedule as the timeline to reach a final decision on budgeting for the next fiscal year July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013:

• Until Feb. 8: collect public views by several methods.

• Feb. 8: board briefing to discuss a tentative position on a balanced budget.

• Feb. 11-16: open houses to explain board's position and budgeting process.

• Feb. 22: board meeting to discuss options based on open houses and other feedback.

• March: several public hearings on tentative general manager/board proposal.

• April 25: first reading of proposed 2012-2013 fiscal year budget.

• May 23: second reading and final decision on the coming fiscal year's budget.