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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tri-Met chips away some more at bus service

And with the changes, possibly another fare increase to kick in by Labor Day. Losing money on every passenger, apparently they're looking to cut down on ridership.

No wonder one of the transit agency's directors is bailing for Corvallis. With a $4.20 toll charge to get in and out -- way more if you bring your car any more -- downtown Portland hardly seems worth the trip.

Comments (9)

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(It's free)

The choo choos are coming, the choo choos are coming get rid of the buses.

It's time for the suburbs to get their act together and realize that we don't need a regional transit agency.

Tigard is ideal to break off and form its own transit system; so is West Linn, Tualatin, Lake Oswego, Forest Grove/Cornelius, Oregon City. Hillsboro probably could do it as well as could Gresham, but Beaverton likely would not (Beaverton is barely a shell of a city as it is now.) That would leave TriMet for Portland, Beaverton, maybe Milwaukie, and certain unincorporated areas - essentially killing off TriMet, or reforming TriMet as nothing more than an operating agency for the light rail system (a la Sound Transit).

Canby, Sandy, Wilsonville and Molalla all saw the future; that's why they all have growing local transit systems that offer far more service than TriMet ever did, at a far lower cost - both in taxes collected, and fares charged. Corvallis is also a great example of an excellently-run local transit system that provides a lot of service, with a new, up-to-date fleet of buses, low taxes, and starting last year (or this year?) has been fare-free.

I drive from Hillsboro to Gresham everyday for work when I can easily take the maxx...the reason? The gas is cheaper than the fare and it takes me 45 minutes, even with potholes and traffic and the maxx is 1.5 hours. And my car isn't full of rowdies, bums, garbage and stopping every few minutes to wait for god only knows what like the maxx.

Don't be silly, Erik. TriMet isn't a transportation agency. Hasn't been for a long time. It's a development agency that happens to have some buses and trains.

Are there any numbers out there on the number of people that pay full fare when they take TriMet? Seems like the majority of riders on my buses were all subsidized in some way-elder "honored riders", developmentally disabled, people who had work passes, students.

Point being, I'm skeptical as to how many people are paying full freight for this "affordable" travel option. Are there that many takers at these rates:

1 day pass $4.75
7 day pass $23
14 day pass $44.50
1 month pass $88
1 year pass $968


Can't speak for MAX since I rarely use it, but on my morning/afternoon commute on the 94, almost everyone has some type of a Monthly or Annual Pass. My employer provides me with an Annual Pass which is a small sticker on my company ID badge. Most PSU students also have such a pass with their student ID card.

When I ride the 12 bus there's a lot more HC pass holders along with cash fares.

The problem with TriMet is that there is absolutely no accountability for who pays what, or even how many people ride a bus on a given day. Many transit systems elsewhere use actual registering fareboxes that can actually determine what type of fare was sold, or if someone uses a pass - the pass is swiped and recorded. And on some rail systems (generally those that calculate fare by distance) you must swipe both on and off (if you don't swipe off it is assumed you travelled the maximum distance and get charged the highest possible fare).

TriMet's fareboxes do one thing: count money. They used to be set up so that the Operators could use the keypad to punch in what type of fare was sold, but that functionality hasn't been used in many years. The use of a "flash pass" (as in, the user "flashes" the pass to the Operator) is not recorded in any way. The method of counting riders is haphazard - some buses have infrared counters at the front and back doors but not every bus. And TriMet also relies on occasional manual counts (as in, they pay someone to ride the bus for a day and count people getting on and off the bus). So they use a fair amount of statistical sampling, which is easy to throw off. And of course these counts only count bodies on/off the train - whether or not the person even paid a fare at all, had a valid fare, short-changed the fare (i.e. paid $2.25 instead of $2.35 for an all-zone ticket, or paid $2.00 instead of $2.05 for a two-zone ticket, or used a HC pass they aren't eligible for, or used an '1' pass in zone 3 or a '3' pass in zone 1...)

If TriMet really wanted an accurate count, it could be done easily and without too much expense. Front door of bus is entry only. Each rider trips an eye-beam style counter. That's what retailers use to measure traffic.

As for the complaints about employee passes. My employer has to pay huge taxes to TriMet. However because we don't work in the sacred downtown core, most employees cannot take TriMet. The ones that can get passes because of the taxes their employers pay. And the employers are under sanctions to get employees out of their cars. Just a little reality check.

Each rider trips an eye-beam style counter

That's what they use, when they work...and when they are installed.

The problem still lies in that it is unknown who is riding the bus (full fare riders, pass riders, honored citizens, children, youth).

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