It's official: After eight months of deliberations and negotiations, the TriMet board has formally adopted the 2012-2013 budget it released in the spring. No more fareless square, an across-the-board $2.50 fare, routes cuts, and more (PDF).
Despite OPAL's strong presence at today's board meeting, as well as all other spring meetings, the board failed to adopt any of OPAL's suggested budget measures or put its decision on hold until the next meeting at the end of the month.
Board President Bruce Warner:
"[The budget] reflects the public and the Board's proposal to preserve service and navigate the financial uncertainties ahead."
That's that. Most changes go into effect on September 1.
Just talked with Jon Ostar, OPAL director, about his experience at today's board meeting. His spirits remain high, despite the verdict. "It was successful on many fronts," Ostar says, highlighting the fact that TriMet DID follow OPAL's suggestion to cut back on the mysterious "contingency funds," give $1 million of the pot to a service that discounts tickets to low-income riders. "It's something that's still a huge victory. That's OPAL fighting and winning."
Osta says that over 100 OPAL supporters attended today's TriMet board meeting, leading to over three hours of public testimony. But, in the end, TriMet had the final say. "The board's decision forced us to be more aggressive," says Ostar. As the votes came to a close, clearly not in OPAL's favor, Ostar said OPAL supporters crowded the board floor, shouting in disagreement. "It was just short of physical confrontation."
Victory or not, this shows how passionate Portland bus riders are about their public transportation system. Here are a few more Twitter reactions from peeved riders: