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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tri-Met: Fare increase is "for simplicity"

As any tax lawyer will tell you, simple and more expensive is never as popular as cheap and complicated. But Portland's "transit" and real estate development agency will try to sell you the former anyway:

TriMet said the zone system was put in place decades ago to keep fares affordable for minority and low-income riders who lived in the central city. "Thirty years later," the agency said, "travel and population patterns have changed and the zone system is no longer serving this purpose. Figuring out the zone system can be a hassle, especially if you're not familiar with the area. By changing to a one-fare system where all trips cost the same, riding TriMet will be much simpler and easier for everyone."

The part about minorities is pretty funny, too. Somehow this money grab against poor people is about "equity," too. Uh huh.

Comments (15)

So...Now the short-haul riders will be subsidizing the long-haul riders.

Everybody subsidizes the entirely unjustified excessive salaries and pensions of those on the management team.

TriMet: Doing their damnedest to force mass transit riders back into their cars.

What s stinkin' heap o' crap. Nothing to do with "low-income riders."

The zone system was based on length of travel. If you traveled within the "central city" or traveled within the heights, and never left the zone, you stilled paid the fare for one zone -- regardless of the location. At that time, more business was centered in the downtown area and the only means of transit was riding the bus. Period.

It actually made sense that a fare was based on distance travelled. Some people were screwed who lived close to a zone border, though. And "fareless square" was a service to the people who shopped, worked or went to school and other destinations in the area during the day, since it was likely that those people paid a fare to get downtown to begin with.

While I'm at it, the lines and zones were well facilitated by large graphic maps on all the bus kiosks, later enhanced with video monitors displaying arrival times of the busses. The system worked and was nearly flawless for the commuter with most lines running every 20 minutes or so (or less) fro0m before 6:00 am. until after midnight at least. And there were express routes.

And most people paid the fare when required.

TriMet is deliberately pushing to get as much work underway in Milwaukie and Clackamas county as possible even though neither local share has been secured. The federal match for Milwaukie's $5 million and Clackamas' $25 million also depends on those local shares.
Despite the pretense when the Full Funding Grant Agreement was signed the greater federal match has not been secured either.

Portland's share is being borrowed against blue sky yet not all of it has been secured. The Sellwood Bridge cost increases makes it difficult to imagine the $ 20 million Sam Adams savings from the Sellwood project for PMLR.
It's all a nasty dishonest mess. Metro's allocation for PMLT is desperately needed for other uses region wide.

The foolish and dishonest politicians on JPACt, councils and commissions will go down in infamy.
TriMet is despicable.

I've grown up here and have been riding Tri-Met for as long as there has been a Tri-Met and I don't understand the zone system or care to for that matter. I remember one time fare inspectors stormed the bus and having everyone show their fares and this one young woman showed her 2 zone ticket and was asked "Where are you going?" She said "Home?"

I get a lot of questions in my current city about Portland's "storied" public transit system and about light rail.

I tell that these days it IS just a story, beginning with "Once upon a time...."

The grifters and carpetbaggers have done a job on the Portland region. It's funny that no copy still exists of the old Blitz-Weinhard television commercial where the officer welcoming people to Oregon points out to the invading real estate developer, "...but THAT'S a felony."

But this still exists from that era:


I believe that's a decent representation of ODOT, PDC, TRIMET, and CoP leadership's mindset.

(Gotta' wonder who pocketed all the cash from melting all the bronze bus shelter icons of the deer and raindrops and snowflake and salmon....)

"Thirty years later," the agency said, "we've finally gotten rid of all the minority and low-income riders in the central city. Problem solved!"

Ah, gentrified Portland: the unbearable whiteness of being.

Karlock's long held fact that driving a 10 year old car is cheaper than riding TriMet becomes even more so. And you can have a job or movie that lasts after 11 PM and have a means of getting home. And you can get to church on Sunday and escape from the food deserts.

There was nothing confusing about Tri-Meths zone or fare system that paying attention wouldn't fix.

The bureaucrats in this area long ago learned the old saying....."You can fool some of the people all of the time.........."

The problem with TriMet's zone system is that it was only loosely based on distance - it cost an "all-zone" fare to go from Tigard to OHSU (about five miles), but only a one-zone fare to go from Beaverton to Forest Grove (about 15 miles). Beaverton to Tualatin was an one-zone fare. Clackamas Town Center to the airport was an one-zone fare.

Even with the "go anywhere fares", you have the problem that while the same fare can get you on MAX from Gresham to Hillsboro (just under two hours), thanks to TriMet's uncoordinated bus schedules a much shorter bus trip may actually take longer than two hours when you factor in waiting time. So again, the benefit is disporportionally in favor of MAX.

In Seattle and many other cities, bus fares are determined by either time or trip (i.e. one fare = one boarding, or one boarding and one transfer); while rail fares are typically distance based and calculated by a ticket machine. Thus, a trip from Gresham to Hillsboro on MAX would be the highest fare and something around $6 or $7 (a WES fare would also be around that amount, given it's "premium" status.) Meanwhile, bus fares are generally kept low because buses do attract lower income riders, so in theory a TriMet bus fare should be $2.00 for either two hours, or a ride plus a transfer (to another bus).

Many cities have enacted "peak hour surcharges" as well, as more people ride transit during rush hour and such service requires tripper runs (that deadhead empty at the end of the run, costing more money) or larger buses. And some systems, during the peak hours, do not give discounts to students and senior citizens who generally have flexibility to travel during less congested times.

While these suggestions are more complex than the "go-anywhere" fare, it does make the fare system more fair and equitable, makes those who benefit more from the service pay more, encourages more off-peak travel by those who most likely can shift their travel, and over time it is a simplified fare structure. In Seattle, there is a large card right on the farebox that has, in three inch high numbers, what the fare is for the time of day. In Portland, you have to fumble around, look right and up, figure out what zone you're in, figure where you're going to, calculate how much time you need...oh, wait, the Operator is telling you to pay your fare because you're holding up the bus, so you throw a bunch of change into the farebox hoping it's enough. Then you're handed a transfer...hopefully it's the right one, or you may have to buy another ticket in a couple hours (or worse get caught by a fare inspector for being in the wrong zone.)

Tri-Met just sucks! Period!

Gee, I remember when it was put in and the rationale was that it is not fair to charge you the same amount for going 4 blocks to the store as it is to go across town to work. Funny how we rewrite history to the merry tune of the cash register.

George - nearly everything involving transit involves rewritten history.

Just read the "Streetcar Scandal" and how big oil killed off all the old streetcars. There are so many factual inaccuracies in the scandal; yet it is repeatedly repeated by the light rail advocates over and over as fact.

(Let's start with that "Big Oil" didn't even own the "Red Cars", and the "Red Cars" (the Pacific Electric Railway) weren't "streetcars" but an interurban railway. Right there, the entire premise of the Streetcar Scandal falls apart. And the big huge federal lawsuit that occurred had all charges dismissed against National City Lines, with the exception of one lone anti-trust violation in that NCL conspired to purchase all of its buses only from GM, shutting out competiting bus manufacturers - and NCL was fined a mere $5,000 on that one charge. The result is that GM would later have to provide extensive support to Flxible. Today - GM stopped making buses in the mid-1980s, and Flxible went out of business in the mid-1990s.)

Actually Karlock made a great observation that has always stuck with me.

For the price of TRIMET, you could purchase something like 100,000 fuel efficient cars!
(or something like that)

And he was right!

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