If you haven't been on a bus or MAX train today, I'll catch you up to speed: Today is Occupy TriMet, another Occupy-labeled event meant to spread awareness of TriMet's hefty budget cuts and trigger opposition/outrage. Occupy TriMet cohorts handed out mini fliers to drowsy transit riders this morning (and will continue throughout the day), highlighting what they see as flaws in the cuts and demanding change. "TriMet must explore an alternate strategy that will not punish riders or workers," reads the handout. Their solutions?
1) Let the public elect TriMet board members, rather than be appointed without a vote.
2) Give buses priority at traffic signals to boost efficiency.
3) Request additional federal funding (that TriMet says it lost this year).
4) Cut the salaries of TriMet officials rather than union workers.
Portland isn't the only city pushing for transit reform today. Hart Noecker, the founder and fire behind the event, said he was inspired by today's Occupy Boston rally, a protest against similar transit cuts. "This is about celebrating mass transit and getting people informed," says Noecker. "Portland's got a proud history defined by transit. TriMet's threatening to change that. Why make a worse product and charge more for it if it's already so successful?"
Aside from the spreading the word via transit throughout the day. Noecker says the event will come to it's climax at 4 pm at Pioneer Courthouse Square with a "rally and celebration." We'll have an update later on the afternoon event.
Mary Fetsch, spokeswoman for TriMet, says they have warned their riders of potential delays today, but says TriMet's had a cooperative history with Occupy in the past and isn't too worried.