by John A. Charles
Cascade Policy Institute
January 23, 2014
TriMet has been the public transit provider for most of the Portland region for the past 44 years. The agency provides fixed-route service through bus, light rail, and commuter rail operations; door-to-door service for qualifying elderly and disabled riders; and both operating labor and financial support to the Portland Streetcar. Unfortunately, the agency’s operations costs have become unsustainable, primarily due to the high cost of employee fringe benefits. TriMet has reduced service five times since 2009 and forecasts deeper cuts beginning fiscal year (FY) 17 if the union contract is not transformed. Other transit agencies offer more service at less cost than TriMet does. For the four cities that withdrew from TriMet and formed their own transit districts, all have lower payroll tax rates, lower costs of labor, lower passenger fares, and better service than previously had been provided by TriMet. Jurisdictions within the TriMet service territory should consider leaving TriMet.

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