TriMet Sets Hearings on Fareless Square Hour Limits

From the TriMet web site. I hope to have more info from TriMet later on Friday.

Fareless Square
Taking action on security
Public Hearing Locations

Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Liberty Center Auditorium
650 NE Holladay St, Portland
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Plan your trip to the Liberty Center Auditorium

Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Portland Building Auditorium
1120 SW 5th Ave, Portland
5-7 p.m.
Plan your trip to the Portland Building Auditorium

To request an interpreter for the hearing impaired or other accommodations for persons with disabilities, call TriMet at
503-962-2455 or TTY 503-238-5811 (7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays) at least 48 hours prior to the hearing.

Background
Fareless Square was created in 1975 to address several policy objectives, primarily aimed at meeting federal Clean Air Act requirements. The policy objectives included reducing auto-generated carbon monoxide pollution, encouraging transit use and making travel within downtown easier for commerce, retail and recreational purposes. Thirty-two years later, the City of Portland no longer has a carbon monoxide pollution problem in downtown and TriMet’s ridership has greatly expanded.

TriMet’s fareless zone is the only one of its kind in the country. Seattle has a much smaller fareless zone and for security reasons has hours limited to 6 a.m.-7 p.m.

Proposal to enhance security
In response to recent security concerns TriMet’s General Manager has outlined a new security plan as part of a multi-faceted strategy to improve safety and security at night throughout the transit system. An important element of this plan includes limiting Fareless Square zone hours to
7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Much of the disruptive and threatening behavior that is witnessed on MAX occurs at night between downtown and the Lloyd District. The proposal is specifically targeted at passenger safety in the downtown core, and to substantially reduce the type of undesirable behavior that impacts the safety of our system.

Process
TriMet’s General Manager Fred Hansen will propose to the TriMet Board of Directors (Board) at its January 23, 2008 meeting that they consider for a first reading, an ordinance to limit Fareless Square zone hours of free rides to 7 a.m.-7 p.m. A second reading and vote by the Board on adoption of the ordinance is scheduled for a Board meeting February 27, 2008.
Hearings/Public Comments

Public comments will be received at both January 16, 2008 public hearings. Public comments may also be submitted by 5 p.m. Thursday, February 21, 2008 by the following:

Mail: TriMet-MK2, 4012 SE 17th Ave, Portland, OR 97202
Email: comments@trimet.org
Phone: 503-962-5806
Fax: 503-962-6469
TTY: 503-238-5811, 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays

33 Comments

33 Responses to TriMet Sets Hearings on Fareless Square Hour Limits

  1. Casey
    January 11, 2008 at 2:36 am Link

    If I were able to attend, I would argue that it’s irrelevant how Portland managed to get federal funds for Fareless Square in 1975; instead, we should consider the actual and current benefits of Fareless Square. Those include everything that comes with increased transit use, and TriMet should support increased transit use.

    On the separate issue of safety, those concerns are not limited to, or even centered in, Fareless Square. I agree that more TriMet personnel onboard MAX would be helpful, but they needn’t limit themselves to fare inspection. In Fareless Square, they can act as a deterrent to safety violations by their mere presence, as well as intervene in actual incidents. There are also other ways to increase safety that have not been implemented, such as providing passes to uniformed workers whose presence also acts as an incident deterrent.

    Also, how threatening is it to go to work downtown at 6am? The limiting of Fareless Square to after 7am, along with the lack of acknowledgment that the people being beaten up and killed seem to be largely outside Fareless Square -cough- Gresham -cough- are among the clearest indications that “Safety and Security” is a smokescreen for phasing out Fareless Square for financial gain.

    Another dead giveaway: the forms people have been asked to fill out on MAX between downtown and Lloyd Center for years are all about whether people are riding MAX to go shopping, not about safety.

  2. AL M
    January 11, 2008 at 11:17 am Link

    Well we all know that the TRIMET board of directors is nothing but a window dressing board.

    Political appointments as gifts from various governors, they are a useless entity.

    Fred will get whatever he asks for.

    I’m not sure who Fred is in collusion with but it surely is not that board.

    My guess its the City of Portland Honchos.

  3. tedder
    January 11, 2008 at 11:30 am Link

    1st and Jackson to 2nd and Battery in Seattle is 1.2 miles.

    In Portland, 5th & Jackson to 10th & Irving is 1.3 miles. I’d say those are pretty comparable for size.

    The real difference is the Lloyd Center, which is a bit of an anomaly.

    I’m not a fan of reducing the fareless by time. In fact, I’m a fan of increasing the size of the fareless zone dramatically.

  4. Lenny Anderson
    January 11, 2008 at 12:19 pm Link

    Fareless should be expanded to all areas with paid parking…Pearl and SoWa…with any loss of fare revenue made up from parking fees. That is how and why Lloyd came to be included or at least a portion of Lloyd. When meters go into Central Eastside…they enter Fareless as well. Its revenue neutral and improves access for all.
    Security is a separate issue; get our cops out of their cars and onto bikes and on foot with transit as a part of their beats. Why don’t I ever see PBA rent-a-cops on MAX? That should be easy enough…a phone call or two?

  5. AL M
    January 11, 2008 at 12:35 pm Link

    AND;

    I am against eliminating fareless after 7pm only because that is truly discriminatory against people that are not working in downtown.

    Either eliminate it or keep it, allowing it for some people and not others continues to be an apartheid method of doing business.

    Of course this has already been decided by whoever is in collusion with Fred, what the rest of us think doesn’t matter.

    All these public hearings are more window dressing.

  6. Skinny City Girl
    January 11, 2008 at 5:09 pm Link

    Eliminating fareless square after 7pm only affects people who live/stay in the boundaries of fareless square and use transit after 7:00 to travel to destinations that are also within fareless square. Who are these people? Conventioneers, tourists, bar-hoppers, homeless and the occasional drug dealer. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t help those people get bus passes. But is that really discrimination?

  7. Casey
    January 11, 2008 at 5:19 pm Link

    Skinny, it also affects people who come into downtown, whether before or after 7, and spend time shopping, at restaurants, etc., knowing that they’re free to move about the downtown area for as long as they like without needing to pay additional fares.

  8. Skinny City Girl
    January 11, 2008 at 5:42 pm Link

    Casey–you’re right. Shoppers and bar hoppers are exactly the people I mentioned above. I live in fareless square and I’m not convinced that very many people use fareless square in the way you have described. When the retail stores close around 8:00, it’s really just bars and movie theaters. What shopping destinations are people moving between on transit after 7:00 that aren’t in the mall or near pioneer square?

  9. Skinny City Girl
    January 11, 2008 at 5:48 pm Link

    …and are we really that worried about Tri-met discriminating against people shopping and eating at restaurants? Is that the demographic people are talking about when they cry foul and discrimination?

  10. Casey
    January 11, 2008 at 5:52 pm Link

    I’m not worried about discrimination, for what it’s worth, that’s Al’s argument. I do think it could either put people into cars or limit the amount of economic activity downtown, though.

  11. Skinny City Girl
    January 11, 2008 at 6:13 pm Link

    Fair enough. That is a good point. Wouldn’t some empirical user data be good right now!

  12. Katie
    January 11, 2008 at 6:53 pm Link

    “‘Safety and Security’ is a smokescreen for phasing out Fareless Square for financial gain.”

    Agree with this, and also that it is obviously a done deal that is just getting some window dressing with the opportunities for comment. Then, a year or less from now, we’ll get the announcement that cutting it back has worked so well, we need to ax it altogether. Appalling.

    Fred and everybody concerned should be ashamed.

  13. Erik Halstead
    January 11, 2008 at 10:35 pm Link

    Eliminating fareless square after 7pm only affects people who live/stay in the boundaries of fareless square and use transit after 7:00 to travel to destinations that are also within fareless square.

    The exact same argument could be used to justify Fareless Square’s elimination, as Fareless Square discriminates against people who use transit but use it outside of Fareless Square by forcing SOME people to pay a fare that others (namely those within Fareless Square) get for free.

  14. Al M
    January 12, 2008 at 9:57 am Link

    Well my honest opinion about fareless square at this point is:

    I DONT CARE WHAT THEY DO!

    And I don’t, most riders want it to stay, as a bus driver I hate it.

    But I don’t drive in Portland anymore, so why should I give a hoot?

    TRIMET better not whine about finances when they just give away rides however.

    They don’t have money for security and fare inspectors but they have money to hand away free services. (don’t start up with they get $750k or whatever chump change they get to keep fareless square either)

    SCREW THAT S**T!

  15. AL M
    January 12, 2008 at 10:38 am Link

    And another thing;

    Downtown Portland might as well be downtown LA as far as I am concerned!

    I don’t got down there,

    I don’t want to go down there,

    and hopefully I’ll never have to go down there again for the rest of my life!

    What they do down there is of no concern to me.

    (other than being forced to pay taxes that come from Downtown Portland, our version of Rome)

    The irony being, I live in NW Portland!

  16. Brad Halverson
    January 12, 2008 at 12:16 pm Link

    Here is my testimony that I submitted:

    I am unable to attend the hearings on January 16th, but I would like to recommend that if the hours of Fareless Square have to be limited, fares should be required there only after 7 p.m. on weeknights and Saturdays. The addition of Saturdays mirrors the times that payment is required at parking meters downtown – a competing option for those that may choose to drive if Fareless Square changes. Also, is there a problem with troublemakers in the early morning (before 7 a.m.)? If not, I would suggest allowing Fareless Square to exist from the start of the service day until 7 p.m. will allow low-income riders who use transit and cannot afford a car to get to their early morning employment within the district legally without paying a fare.

    Also, will there be an exception for those using transit to get to and from parking areas around the Rose Quarter after events? This is a key part of the plan, and I think it will be very difficult to enforce the ticket requirements for those wanting to cross the river or to the Lloyd District (e.g. after Blazer games).

    *** note – I am not a huge Blazers fan, but they do draw most of the largest crowds to the RQ. ***

  17. Bob R.
    January 12, 2008 at 10:02 pm Link

    Tedder wrote: “1st and Jackson to 2nd and Battery in Seattle is 1.2 miles. […] In Portland, 5th & Jackson to 10th & Irving is 1.3 miles. I’d say those are pretty comparable for size.”

    And a little research shows that the well-known bastion of liberalism, Salt Lake City, Utah, has a UTA Fare Free Zone 1.275 miles across. It would be interesting to know what kinds of safety/behavior/fare enforcement issues they have.

  18. JW
    January 13, 2008 at 8:31 am Link

    Were there many passenger behavior problems with the Downtown to Lloyd Center segment before the Lloyd District became fareless?

  19. Erik Halstead
    January 13, 2008 at 9:03 pm Link

    well-known bastion of liberalism, Salt Lake City

    PLEASE tell me you’re being sarcastic, Bob…

    (Said as an employee of a company whose largest operations are in said city.)

  20. Bob R.
    January 13, 2008 at 9:16 pm Link

    PLEASE tell me you’re being sarcastic, Bob…

    Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

    Fareless Square is often characterized as some kind of liberal/progressive folly (not necessarily in this specific discussion thread). But Salt Lake City has a fareless zone similar in scope to Portland’s.

  21. Bob R.
    January 13, 2008 at 9:31 pm Link

    JW asked: Were there many passenger behavior problems with the Downtown to Lloyd Center segment before the Lloyd District became fareless?

    Speaking purely from my own experience, and therefore completely anecdotally, I have witnessed an increase in bad behavior over time since the Lloyd Center extension of Fareless Square was implemented.

    Most of the bad behavior I’ve seen occurs between the stretch on SW/NW 1st Street and Lloyd Center.

    That being said, most of the incidents that come to mind in my memory happened in normal daytime hours. I don’t see how changing the hours of fareless operation would have changed those incidents. On the other hand, I usually (but not always) ride after 7AM and before 8PM.

  22. AL M
    January 13, 2008 at 9:46 pm Link

    The whole fareless square charade is just that, a public relations stunt.

    They need to overhaul the fare/zone/transfer structure, but that would require bureaucratic work, its easier to make useless announcements.

    This ‘after 7pm’ is going to be an enforcement nightmare. Another impossible task to load onto the bus operators. Hopefully not too many bus operators are going to be gung ho over this nonsense.

    If they get the cops on duty then maybe things will calm down.

    I’d like to point out, being very informed of worldwide bus related events, that crime is rampant not only in Portland, but all over America and many places around the world.

    Basically, the world is falling to pieces.

  23. Anthony
    January 13, 2008 at 10:40 pm Link

    Everything about TriMet is outdated. Its ‘Downtown Portland is the only destination’ philosophy and routes. Its confusing ‘oops, you should have been on the other line 4’ route numbering system. Its putting a bus stop at every other block to ‘encourage’ ridership program. Its outdated fare-zone boundaries that were drawn over 30 years ago, and fare-free zone that has become nothing more then a marketing tool to help peddle highly subsidized condos. Rails in mixed traffic? Honor system? Heck, we don’t even have ONE freeway express route. TriMet’s idea of express is a 2 hour ride on MAX.

    Getting rid of the fare-free zone is just the tip of the iceburg.

  24. Al M
    January 14, 2008 at 7:09 am Link

    “Getting rid of the fare-free zone is just the tip of the iceburg.”

    Unfortunately your right!

    They want a “public” hearing.

    Another exercise in public relations.

    The decision has been made.

  25. Erik Halstead
    January 14, 2008 at 8:49 pm Link

    Heck, we don’t even have ONE freeway express route

    Actually it should be noted that the 96 Tualatin/I-5 express uses I-5 from Harbor Drive (Riverplace) to Lower Boones Ferry Road (Bridgeport Village) (southbound; northbound it uses the Upper Boones Ferry Road/Durham onramp). However once off of I-5 the bus runs as a local.

    The 95 (Tigard/I-5 Express) used to use I-5 from Harbor Drive to Highway 99W but was cancelled.

    Also, the 58 (Canyon Road) uses the Sunset Highway from Canyon Road/Jefferson Street west to Sylvan; however it is clearly not an express route.

    Compared to most cities, though, Portland is lacking in quality express bus services. For example the old 58 (Sunset Highway Express) is long gone, with little in the way of alternative service. And of course the fleets of Sunset and Banfield busses are long gone.

  26. Al M
    January 15, 2008 at 8:59 am Link

    “For example the old 58 (Sunset Highway Express) is long gone, with little in the way of alternative service. And of course the fleets of Sunset and Banfield busses are long gone.”

    What’s interesting about all this is that the trains do not connect with the buses at night!

    Why not?
    http://amargul.blogspot.com/2008/01/why-i-cant-use-trimet.html

  27. elee
    January 15, 2008 at 11:51 am Link

    Al M and Erik, I think you’re onto something…..apparently Trimet has decided that the only way to lure riders aboard—-riders who have any choice in the matter—is to build trains. This means no attempt at speeding up the woeful bus service they’ve got now…..why? Trimet claims it can get me downtown in 17 minutes, when everyone knows 45 minutes is a good day. If they put in a fast bus that would actually, like, achieve, say, 22 minutes, I might be interested, and they could of course claim that it took 12 minutes. But 45 minutes on an overcrowded, unreliable bus means I’m not having any as long as I have any choice in the matter. And since they aren’t building any train lines on my route, it appears Trimet and I shall not meet again….

    Present management is doing a great job of persuading any discretionary user that buses are intrinsically unreliable and unpleasant.

    Is this actually the case, or is it just Trimet?

  28. Lenny Anderson
    January 15, 2008 at 2:11 pm Link

    Which bus do you ride? Mine…85, 72 and 9 Broadway…are almost always on time and arrive as scheduled.
    But without dedicated ROW buses are in traffic with everything else, except bikes. Are you guys advocating bus lanes on all major arterials/transit streets?
    For all TriMet’s faults when you operate in the 25th or so largest market and have the 12th highest ridership, things can’t be all bad.

  29. elee
    January 15, 2008 at 4:22 pm Link

    I used to ride the #4 Division, for years on end. Never reliable, I could never tell whether I was catching a late runner from a previous run or a hot bus for the next run, any arrival anywhere near scheduled time was purely coincidental. About all I could say for it was that sometimes one could catch a driver shadowing his or her leader and actually get a seat…..till one day one of these shadowers refused to let me board and sent me to his jampacked leader…..but that’s another story.

  30. Lenny Anderson
    January 16, 2008 at 9:19 am Link

    4 Division starts in Gresham and a lot can happen before it crosses I-205; or it comes thru downtown as a 4 Fessenden from North Portland, so keeping to schedule can be tough. We see the same thing on the 72 to Swan Island. It comes all the way from Clackamas TC with 11 schools and lots of traffic, wheel chairs and so on. TriMet planners recently made some major changes in the 72 to address its unreliability. Maybe they need to do the same thing on the 4 Division.
    How far out on Division did you board? Operators are the greatest source of variability on buses. Good Ops who can run on time and deal with people make for a very pleasant experience on the bus. Ops who “work the system” and resent their customers, are deal killers. One of light rail’s virtues is that this variability is reduced considerably.
    TriMet does publish reliability data as all buses are tracked by GPS. Rider feedback can alert operations to patterns of unreliability that can be fixed by closer supervision or schedule revisions. On Swan Island, we encourage riders to contact TriMet or the TMA with any schedule/reliability issues.

  31. Erik Halstead
    January 17, 2008 at 7:19 pm Link

    Which bus do you ride? Mine…85, 72 and 9 Broadway…are almost always on time and arrive as scheduled.

    TriMet does publish reliability data as all buses are tracked by GPS. Rider feedback can alert operations to patterns of unreliability that can be fixed by closer supervision or schedule revisions.

    I ride the 12-Barbur Boulevard bus.

    It consistently runs 5-20 minutes late. Just today, 12 minutes late at I-5 (and traffic was well backed up into Tigard so it probably lost another 10 minutes through Tigard.)

    I have made NUMEROUS complaints, both written and vocal, to TriMet, to no avail. For awhile I was making DAILY complaints to TriMet “Customer Service” to advise of how late my bus was. Apparently one only counts if they work on Swan Island or live in the Pearl District or SoWa…

    And where is TriMet’s reliability data published for the public to see? I want a http://www.trimet.org/ link. I have seen it, as provided to me by an employee, and I know for a fact that the 12B line is the WORST PERFORMING FREQUENT SERVICE ROUTE and has been for many quarters.

    For all TriMet’s faults when you operate in the 25th or so largest market and have the 12th highest ridership, things can’t be all bad.

    TriMet’s bus ridership has declined two years in a row. Things can’t be all good…

  32. Jim Howell
    January 18, 2008 at 7:16 am Link

    My views were in the the minority, but for what they are worth, here is the testimony I submitted Wednesday.

    Testimony on “Fareless Square” Hour Limits

    I support the proposal to limit “Fareless Square” hours from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM provided that any fare purchased during that service day is honored as proof of payment in “Fareless Square” outside of those hours. The people that have already paid a fare to get downtown should not have to pay additional fares for traveling within “Fareless Square” in the evening. Beware of unintended consequences. The additional fares that transit commuters will pay if they chose to circulate downtown after work may persuade them to commute by car.

    The TriMet fare system should be changed regardless of the bad behavior on MAX that some people attribute to “Fareless Square”. The entire fare system is unnecessarily complicated, mostly unenforceable and lacks fairness. The modest change I am proposing to “Fareless Square” hour limits would test the concept of replacing “Fareless Square” with a “Ride-all-day Zone” as part of a much needed reform of the entire fare system.

    Proposed changes to the fare system:

    The current system should be replaced with one that is simple to understand, easy to monitor and enforce and is fair (where everyone pays something). It also should generate revenue equal to the current system.

    Replace “Fareless Square” with expanded “Ride-all-day Zone”:

    “Fareless Square” should be eliminated because it is unfair. It provides no benefit to pass holders and little benefit to fare paying riders, yet allows free rides to those that come downtown in their private vehicles, adding to parking problems, road congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

    It could be replaced with a “Ride-all-day Zone” where any valid two-hour transfer or ticket would also be valid within this zone for the entire day. If this zone were larger than the current “Fareless Square”, such as one that includes the inner eastside, OMSI, South Waterfront, PGE Park, NW District and the Pearl District, it would benefit far more people than “Fareless Square”. Downtown auto use would probably not increase because the cost of an all day fare would be nominal, about the same as 90 minutes of street parking.

    Eliminate concentric ring fare zones:
    The current three-zone fare system is difficult to understand and is rarely enforced. The zone boundaries are concentric rings around downtown based on the erroneous assumption that all riders are destined to downtown, with those taking the longest trip paying the most.

    This “bulls-eye” fare system is inherently unfair because many riders are not destined downtown. For example, someone traveling between NW 23rd Avenue and St. Vincent Hospital, a distance of only two miles, must pay $2.05 for a three-zone fare, whereas someone traveling 11 miles between St. Johns and Oregon City would pay only $1.75 for a two-zone fare.

    No system is completely fair but until a distance-based system becomes technically feasible and easy to administer, the Three-zone fare system should be scrapped. The lost revenue could be replaced with a peak-period surcharge.

    Simplify fare schedule:

    Honored Citizen and Youth/Student discounts would be maintained. TriMet could sell tickets and passes at quantity discounts to merchants, event planners and social service agencies to distribute free to their customers and clients. These complimentary tickets could offset the impact of eliminating “Fareless Square” on visitors and low-income downtown residents. Everyone would be required to have proof of payment so inspections could be made anywhere on the system.

    The following is a model of a fare system incorporating these changes. It establishes a base cash fare (BCF) for 1 ½ or 2 hours of service upon which all other cash fares and passes are determined. (A 10% –20% peak surcharge could also be added).

    ? Youth/Student – 75% of BCF
    ? Honored Citizen – 50% of BCF
    ? Base, Y/S and HC multiple ride ticket books – 9.1% discount
    ? Base, Y/S and HC monthly pass – 36 X cash fare
    ? Base, Y/S and HC Day Pass – 3 X cash fare

    Example fares based on the above model: (With peak surcharge)
    ? Base cash fare 1.80 (2.00)
    ? Youth/Student cash fare 1.35 (1.75)
    ? Honored Citizen cash fare .90 (1.00)
    ? Ticket books11 tickets for price of 10
    ? Base Monthly Pass64.80 (72.00)
    ? Y/S Monthly Pass 48.60 (63.00)
    ? H/C Monthly Pass32.40 (36.00)
    ? Base Day Pass 5.40 (6.00)
    ? Y/S Day Pass 4.05 (5.25)
    ? H/C Day Pass 2.70 (3.00)

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