Better start savoring your $1.75 bus tickets - ten minutes ago, the TriMet Board voted 4-1 to increase bus and Max fare by 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for kids and old folks starting September 1st. One nickel of that price bump is to cover inflation, but the other twenty cents is to help cover the skyrocketing cost of gas. TriMet buys 6.6 million gallons of diesel every year and in the past few months, they've had to spend $4 million more than planned on the gas.

The discussion among the board revolved around whether the increase would actually effectively cover the rapidly fluctuating cost of diesel. Member Robert Williams thinks the fare increase should be higher, saying, "Although I was voted down at the last meeting... I worry that we will be coming back to the public and our riders real soon if prices spike in the future."

At the other end of the table, Lynn Lehrbach spoke against the increase, calling the gas price jump "a political issue". Mostly, though, Lehrbach was upset that the increase would hit the elderly hard ("old people" are called "honored citizens" in the Portland City halls). "They cut their pills in half and some of them don't even take their medication because they can't afford it. The nickle, the dime, whatever we push on the honored citizens, that's immoral!" Lehrbach said, "We shouldn't be about harming our ridership if we can help it." He made a motion to remove senior citizens from the ordinance, but nothing came of it. Lehrbach was the only vote against the new fare.

Are any bus riders hot and bothered by this increase? When the TriMet president opened the discussion for public comment, the room fell completely silent - no one showed up to speak against the new fare.

posted by Sarah Mirk