The legislative session kicked off last week, with over 1,600 new laws and rule changes proposed by Oregon's representatives. I'll be doing roundups of the laws relevant to Portland on the blog all week. Previous posts were on homebrew and phone books.
Four proposed pieces of legislation pitch small changes to TriMet, three of them coming out of East Portland Representative Jefferson Smith's office.
"Safety on the MAX is a real priority. Budgetary constraints are a real reality," says Rep Smith. From that bind, Rep. Smith and some constituents came up with ideas for preventing crime on the MAX without spending much money.
The most original one of the bills is HB 2090, which directs TriMet to identify high-crime stations and then broadcast classical music at the stops (classical music being defined as "opera,
chamber music, choral pieces and music requiring a full orchestra.")
"It just has sort of a calming influence. You could have annoying sounds, but the idea is Mozart doesn't bum too many people out," says Smith. Plenty of businesses have started using classical music to deter crime and loitering... though at MAX stops, people have to endure a certain amount of loitering while waiting for their train.
Of Smith's other bills, HB 2883 proposes making TriMet tickets stickers that people would wear on their shirts to make fare-checks quick and easy and HB 2891 suggests training locals to form TriMet foot patrols that would "observe and report" anything suspicious or criminal at light rail stations.
On the other end of the political spectrum, Wilsonville representative Matt Wingard proposes HB 2915, which would force public transit systems funded by payroll taxes (AKA TriMet) to print on each ticket how much of the ride was paid for by taxes.
Not just that, but Rep. Wingard's proposed wording is this: “The business community contributed $___ toward the cost of your ride today.”
Payroll taxes are a major source of funding for TriMet. I'm actually not against Wingard's idea—as long as he proposes a similar law sending all highway users a bill at the end of the year summarizing taxpayer's generous contribution to their drives.