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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 15, 2012 10:45 AM. The previous post in this blog was The unrest spreads -- wonderfully so. The next post in this blog is In real ink. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tri-Met saves the 9

It appears that Portland's "transit" agency is easing off on some of the harshest cuts to bus service that they're being forced to make as a result of many years of financial mismanagement. Our neighborhood's last remaining bus to downtown, the 9 Broadway, may actually continue to make it all the way downtown after all. But it will be $2.50 each way, and no fair using the same ticket for a return trip, even if you head back just a few minutes after arriving downtown. All in all, our occasional transit ride will likely become even more occasional when the changes take effect.

UPDATE, 4:33 p.m.: Under the revised cutbacks, riders will still be able to use a ticket for a return trip if it's within two hours of the ticket being issued.

Comments (12)

They always play the same game.
Present a draconian picture then 'give back'.
Makes them sorta the good guys.
It's called "low balling" and it should be illegal.

Think back a couple years (or more) years ago.

They threatened employees with layoffs and were taking voluntary leaves for three months or more to save money.

They stopped hiring bus drivers for two years (but non union management hiring continued)

Then one day EVERYTHING WAS OK AGAIN.
All the demoted 'white shirts' were promoted back to their nice cush jobs and they started hiring bus drivers, and of course MORE MANAGERS.

End of story?

Nope, I'm sure we will go through this over and over as they attempt to manipulate public opinion.

To me, the unreal part is how all of this fuss is over $12 million.

We were presented with this false dichotomy, "Should we drown some kittens, or push Grandma off the cliff? Ignore that pile of gold bars in the corner, those are rail ties essential for the Ultraviolet Line".

They are so adept at reeling in billions for construction, but are strangely incurious about using these finely honed skills to keep the wheels from coming off (literally). Is there no sugar for getting the poor folks to work *today*?

Maybe the agency leaders have privately already given up, knowing that some years from now the operator benefits package will soak up 100% of annual revenue, leaving zero to operate a transit agency of any size.

1 trip downtown = 2 hours and the cost of 1.5 gallons of gas.

Why would anyone who can drive do that?

Proposed Bus Route Reconfiguations.
http://trimet.org/choices/route-reconfiguration-refined.htm

Lowest Common Denominator? Redesign routes to equalize walking distance, simplify options for riders, and better position Trimet to restore service in the future. Fairness for All. More rate increaseswe much.

I thought they had decided to retain the "short hop" thing, wherein you can take the bus for, say, an appointment, and then return on the same line.

In any case, as Al notes, managers seem to be propagating like flies around this burg. The state is on the right track with their recent mandate that each manager must be "supervising" no less than eleven line staff, but even that seems like an overabundance of managers. At Tri-Met, CoPo, Metro, and MultCo, you can't hit the drinking fountain without tripping over half a dozen "managers".

I've been pleased with one aspect of this debacle....the whole "multilevel multifamily housing" (aka 'condo bunkers') is rationalized to neighborhoods as being part of increasing residential density along established bus lines.

Well, now we know better. That whole line of reasoning has now been made insensible by the clear understanding that those 'established bus lines' can disappear at the whim of a Tri-Met planner. *POOF* Just like that, the 'established bus line' can be gone.

This is complete ruse by TriMet.

They still have the $17 million hole but are pretending as though have already won the labor dispute and savings of $5 million. That's how they
are now only cutting $12 millin

"TriMet has announced revised budget and service cut proposals for FY13. Unlike the prior plan, which contained $17M in cuts, this plan only contains $12M in cuts, with the caveat that $5M more may be necessary if negotiations/arbitration with the union do not go TriMet's way."

This is how they focus blame on the union for any additional cuts.

Instead of on their despicable management practices.

Mary Fetsch, TriMet Media Relations: The Refined Budget Proposal takes the one-way/round-trip idea we initially proposed off the table, at least for now. The Refined Budget Proposal includes changing to a flat $2.50 fare (valid for 2 hours on both buses and rail), which would generate half of the revenue we need to cover our budget shortfall, while simplifying the system considerable for all riders (http://www.trimet.org/mailforms/budgetproposal_refined.)

A Ten Step Program

1. Declare bankruptsy.

2. Cancel all labor contracts and all building contracts.

3. Form a private non-profit corporation to operate the system.

4. Fire all adminstrators, managers and supervisors.

5. Require all transit emplyees to re-apply for employment if they are interested.

6. Hire only good workers.

7. Hire the best law firm in the country to deal with the ATU in the most aggressive way permitted under law. This will be expensive in the short run, but save the system in the long run.

8. Keep the light rail corridors - they will be needed in the future.

9. Focus now on rebuilding a comprehensive bus system with fully functional on-time arrival/darture information available to customers/potential customers.

10. Start over and do it right this time."


"Just like that, the 'established bus line' can be gone."

Be careful, that's one of the arguments for light rail - someone building a development next to a light rail stop has a high degree of confidence that the light rail route won't change.

Buses, not so much...

Re: the "Ten Step Program".

1. Bankruptcy is certainly an option, but TriMet won't use it. Why? Because it'll all but eliminate TriMet's ability to build new MAX lines (because it won't be able to sell bonds, or at least do it very cheaply). TriMet's management believes its first job is to build MAX, THEN operate transit, so Bankruptcy will not be an option.

2. If you declare bankruptcy, #2 becomes an option. But #2 is not an option out of nowhere. TriMet thus has a decision to make - it can have get its labor concessions, but it'll have to give up light rail. Since TriMet refuses to give up light rail, it's stuck with the labor contracts.

3. TriMet already is a "non-profit corporation". What purpose would this actually accomplish? If it were removed from being a government agency, it'd basically shut down - but the vehicles and rail lines are still owned by the government. So we'd have a non-functioning transit agency, and a non-profit organization that does nothing.

4. Every organization needs a certain number of administrators. But I can agree that TriMet does have too many Managers and other non-operating personnel that need to be axed - IMMEDIATELY.

5. What is the point of this? Basically fire and re-hire everyone at minimum wage? It would quickly backfire as most of the current employees would simply move away and not re-apply; few people would apply for TriMet at minimum wage especially since nearly every school district (or their contractor) is paying $12-15/hour for a part-time school bus driver, with benefits. And the new employees would not perform anywhere near as efficiently as the existing drivers for at least one or two years until they gain experience.

6. Well, duh!!! The problem is that TriMet is too top heavy with management, is over-extended in empire building of new rail lines, and failing to invest in its bus fleet...

7. Why are you going to sue the ATU? Under what grounds? If you declare bankruptcy you won't need to sue the ATU since the contract will be nullified by a court, so there's no reason to sue the ATU. And if you don't declare bankruptcy, there's no grounds to sue the ATU. TriMet agreed to the contract. TriMet is already losing every battle with the ATU because TriMet clearly is breaking the contracts and state and federal labor law. You can't agree to a contract and then break it because you don't like it after the fact...basically TriMet is arguing that it has a right, but then is arguing that Clackamas County (in its fight to stop light rail funding) does not have the same right.

8. All of the corridors are already public right-of-ways.

9. This should be solution #1-1,000. TriMet has lost sight of its primary function and that is the root of the problem.

10. This is part of the solution AND part of the problem. TriMet needs to fix what it has - rebuild if necessary; but also not decide to ignore its bus system and build a massive rail system. It shouldn't start with a blank slate - it should carefully account for what it has, and rebuild the system.

Be careful, that's one of the arguments for light rail - someone building a development next to a light rail stop has a high degree of confidence that the light rail route won't change.

Buses, not so much...

You'd think...

But both the Red Electric and the Oregon Electric systems lasted far shorter lives than many of TriMet's established bus routes over the last 43 years. The Red Electrics operated only 15 years - from 1914 to 1929. The OE just a few years longer, ending its passenger services in the mid 1930s.

While the railroad tracks still largely exist, they haven't hosted passenger trains in decades. With the exception of WES, but the Beaverton-Tigard portion of the track was generally not used by Red Electric passenger trains (and the OE didn't use this track until after the end of passenger services and the abandonment of the OE mainline from Greton to Garden Home, Multnomah and Portland), and during the years of the Oregon Electric Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville were all very small farming towns - not bedroom suburbs and industrial centers. Tualatin, in 1970s, still had fewer than 1,000 residents - despite having not one, but two railroads in town (both the Red Electric mainline from Oswego to Newberg, and the Oregon Electric mainline from Beaverton to Salem).

But many of TriMet's bus lines date back to Rose City Transit days.


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