Help for Transit?

According to T4America, there are a pair of bills in the House and Senate that would provide flexibility to allow transit agencies to use some of their formula funds for operations.

How might TriMet apply this? I’m not entirely up-to-speed on the TriMet budget. How do the section 5307 funds get spent today? Bus purchases? Would it be a win to defer bus purchases to reduce service cuts or fare increases?

4 Comments

4 Responses to Help for Transit?

  1. zefwagner
    December 18, 2011 at 11:39 pm Link

    I really hope they don’t defer bus purchases. They’ve been doing that for years and we are stuck with one of the worst fleets in the nation. I got to ride Metro’s nice new buses up in Seattle last weekend…it was depressing to hop on the 19 when I got back to Portland and see the seats falling apart and experience the incredibly loud diesel engine.

    In any case, this would still be a great way to have more flexibility in the budget, so I hope it passes.

  2. Nick
    December 19, 2011 at 10:47 am Link

    Currently, federal formula funds cannot be used for operations. Originally, they were just used for bus purchases, but that was seen as unfair to larger agencies who received no federal grants for operations – unlike small towns. The compromise was to allow large agencies to use the federal funds to maintain the federally-purchased buses, as well as buy new ones. Since maintenance is a pretty standard thing, I’m not sure how using formula funds directly on operations would help. It seems like it would just make current operations funding go to maintenance and everything would cancel out. Maybe someone else can think of a benefit of doing this?

    Either way, I don’t want more federal involvement in transit. We’re already dependent on federal grants and formula funds… I hope the bills fail.

  3. Jason McHuff
    December 21, 2011 at 3:01 pm Link

    Really, the Federal government should not have gotten into funding ANY form of transportation. Assist the states with making and enforcing agreements between each other regarding inter-state facilities, maybe offer to guarantee revenue bonds (e.g. for toll roads, taking them over if they fail), but don’t offer “free” money.

    Overall, if it wasn’t for very generous highway funding, we probably wouldn’t have many of the problems we have today.

  4. Wells
    December 21, 2011 at 9:07 pm Link

    When will Portland get its first 35′ Low-floor bus, New Flyer or Gillig? The new order of Low-Floor buses should include 6-10 35′ models with 1 or 2 hybrid both makers. Buslines on urban turning points could use the safety & air quality upgrade. The smaller buses are suitably more maneuverable, lighter with an inherent advantage to hybrid-drive. 35′ hybrids should be modeled. Get with the program boys.

    The Portland streetcar loop is fine craftmanship & superb engineering. North of here, the most absurd highway projects & below average rail systems in Seattle only add to the state’s long list of worst engineering screw ups. Blame Washington State for the lousy Hayden Island Spagetti/crash-ramp ‘T’ design/both directions. NOT SAFER than existing nor options. Somebody is lye-eng? What? It no safer aftah all?

    That’s right. And another thing: Michael Patrick McGinn is a national hero. He MUST win ‘our’ fight to stop the extremely risky bored tunnel nonsense and stop the questionably poor street traffic re-arrangements — commercial traffic re-routed through residential; faster uphill/descent hazards & risks for neighborhoods Queen Anne, Lake Union, Pioneer Square, near everywhere downtown is expected to be worse.

    You can just think about it. Right?

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