Feds to the Rescue on Transit Operations?

The “Public Transportation Preservation Act of 2010” was introduced in the Senate yesterday. According to Transportation for America it will:

…authorize $2 billion for transit agencies nationwide to help close funding gaps in operating costs. Transit agencies can use these funds to reduce fare increases and restore services that were cut after January 2009 or to prevent future service cuts or fare increases through September 2011. Agencies that have not increased rates or cut services and do not plan to do so may use the funds for infrastructure improvements.

T4America has an action page where you can encourage your Senators to support the bill.

If we can bail out Wall Street, bailing out transit seems more than fair!

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12 responses to “Feds to the Rescue on Transit Operations?”

  1. I brought this up at this mornings’ TriMet Board Meeting. I would go as far as to say they didn’t believe me!
    And, a personal appeal to everyone: Please remember that the TriMet Board is appointed by the governor. Just something to think about when attending political events, asking questions to gubernatorial candidates, and casting your vote in November.

  2. And, as though to illustrate the point, TriMet’s board has approved further service cuts and fare increases today.

    One thing that concerns me about the fare increases (I’m not opposed to them in principle to keep the fare recovery ratio in line) is that over time these nickel increases have shifted the overall price burden to riders who take shorter trips: By increasing both the 2-zone fare and the 3-zone fare by the same fixed amount, the overall percentage difference between the two fares has decreased significantly over the past decade.

    It’s another one of those gradual things that is throwing the current fare system out-of-whack, and it is one of my great hopes that the new general manager will move on what are now just occasional murmurs about coming up with a new fare and payment system.

    In a perfect world I’d be delighted to see the whole fare/payment issue resolved before the new Eastside Loop streetcar extension opens, because that’s another can of worms relating to fare equity, the “free rail zone”, distance traveled., etc., that could lead to an unpleasant showdown over fares.

  3. I walk instead of take TriMet because for a mile or so it’s just not worth $2 for a 15 minute walk. Making it an uneven number will just reduce how often its worth it for me.

    Has anyone with TriMet taken BART or MUNI in the SF Bay region lately? It costs a lot less then a TriMet pass.

  4. If we are serious about increasing transit ridership there has to be a way to board a bus and pay using a card, either bank issued or a debit system like they have in NYC or Chicago. $2.05, exact change only? Yeah, that’s convenient.

  5. I do have to say that having seemingly random fractions of a dollar on a fare is massively annoying, and not being able to make change is practically criminal.

    That extra nickel is going to turn into an extra dollar for someone that doesn’t carry change around with them. Maybe that’s why they are doing it?

  6. They need to quit with the nickel increases. Just have fewer increases and do it in quarter increments. You should be able to pay the fare — whatever it is — in dollars and quarters.

    I’ve long been a proponent of getting rid of the zone system. Pay a flat fare ($2.25 or $2.50), get two hour access to the entire system. Very, very easy. Or pay $5 or $6 for an all-day pass.

    The zone system is necessarily arbitrary and irrational (it costs more to travel from the Washington Park MAX station to Sunset TC — one stop — than from Washington Park to 82nd Avenue) and adds unnecessary confusion for potential new riders. Trash it and bring back a flat fare.

  7. Several years ago, TriMet promised a look into the overall fare system. As far as I know, the only thing to come out of it was trashing Fareless Square in favor of the Free Rail Zone.

    I soon won’t be dealing with TriMet on a daily basis, as I have a ticket off of this sinking ship.

  8. And, a personal appeal to everyone: Please remember that the TriMet Board is appointed by the governor. Just something to think about when attending political events, asking questions to gubernatorial candidates, and casting your vote in November.

    That is good advice. Now that we know who the two main candidates are (the doc and the jock), let’s keep asking them about Portland-area transit and remind them that the governor controls the TriMet board.

  9. I have never used a bus system where drivers made change. I think the reasons for that are pretty obvious. You can always buy tickets.

    Eliminating the zones would transfer the cost from people who take long trips from the suburbs, often on the lightest used lines where fares cover the smallest portion of the cost, to people who take short trips, often on the heaviest used lines where fares already recover most of the cost.

  10. Isn’t it weird that the board of a transit system is appointed by the governor?

    Each county should run their own transit system, much like everywhere else in the US. Metro could run regional routes. That would make the system accountable locally, and routes would be planned based on local needs, not the needs of Portland’s failed downtown-centric model.

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