TriMet Looks Into Getting Rid of all Zones and Roundtrip Transfers

Comments

1
BUSES ARE FOR POOR PEOPLE AND I DON'T CARE ABOUT POOR PEOPLE.
2
What a bunch of bullshit. They are talking about more than DOUBLING the price and continue to cut service! People that need the bus for transportation can't afford more than doubling!
3
I'm glad they found money to replace the bus shelter on Willis that didn't need to be replaced. Or at least it will be replaced after the project, which is well into it's 4th week, is finally completely, likely at a price tag in excess of $40k .... for something that already did it's job (keeping bus riders from being rained on) well.

I'm not sure how, in light of Trimets recent budgetary problems, anyone can support new lightrail or tramp projects.
4
I've been driving a biofuel car since September. Driving (for me) has been marginally more expensive than bussing. But once you factor the time I'm saving (and the added time I'm getting to spend with my boyfriend) - the cost (for me) of the added expense has been well worth it. I bought a car largely because I was tired of the increased cost + reduced service of Tri-met. Waiting a half hour in the rain for a bus is bullcrap. And I'm not tough enough to ride a bicycle in winter.

I think it's interesting that the cost of bus fare has increased to the point where I was able to make a comparison of bus vs. car costs and choose car as the cheaper option (once you factor in your time). I don't currently have parking expenses at my job, but I'd assume if that were to happen my analysis would change.

My heart really goes out to the people who can't afford this option. The changes they're proposing will absolutely make driving cheaper for me.
5
@Chuck, is a "tramp" project some vintage reference to homeless people riding the rails?
6
Ha! No, it's just a really applicable typo. Tramps riding the rails are more accustomed to on-time arrivals and clean boxcar conditions than Trimet bus riders.
7
I just like Sarah's sentence: "I find the idea of one-way fares confusing."

What does one-way mean? I'm a girl! Can't I just go wherever I want? This is hard!
8
@FC: THE 2012 IRS STANDARD MILEAGE RATE IS $.55/MILE. SO IF YOUR COMMUTE IS LESS THAN 9 MILES ROUNTRIP, DRIVING IS CHEAPER. BUT IF YOUR COMMUTE IS LESS THAN NINE MILES ROUNDTRIP, RIDE A FUCKING BICYCLE.
9
What gives with the misogyny 'round these parts lately? Just because a journalist who is female says something doesn't mean gender has anything to do with it. I have a y chromosome and also find it a little confusing what they're proposing. Via some new technology the driver is actually going to check and make sure each rider is not using a transfer to backtrack, and that's not going to make people a lot more pissed off at Tri-Met?
10
@Reymont, I'll give you a simple example, even though you're a fucking asshole.

I live around SE 72nd & Duke. I'm going to 45th & Hawthorne. I get on the 19 toward downtown, where I transfer to the 14. Once I get there, I can take the 14 to 72nd & Foster, which is about 8 blocks from my house.

A one-way fare system can't make sense unless you can reliably distinguish between directions after a transfer, at least part of the time. If the system for determining someone's direction of travel is more complicated than the zones, then it's a stupid idea.

Also, shut the fuck up.
11
@Elderpeche - What is so complicated about a friggin transfer? "One-way-only" means you can't ride the 19 downtown and then jump right back on the 19 and go back home. Does that require some complicated way of determining direction?
12
@Elderpeche - No, you know what? Don't even reply. If you're going to just throw around insults, go fuck yourself - you don't deserve a reply.
13
@REYMONT: WHAT DID BEING A GIRL HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING? YOU WERE BEING BLATANTLY MISOGYNISTIC.
14
@Graham, I have a delicate frame. I cannot ride a bicycle in winter. It's too cold!
15
@4: On average, it costs several thousand dollars a year to own, maintain, insure, and fuel a car. For that money, even a two-person household could buy monthly Tri-Met passes and also Zipcar or the occasional rental car for out-of-town trips or whatnot. There are many other benefits, too, including helping Tri-Met's passenger revenue.

@11: The article says Tri-Met is still uncertain how the transfer system would work and would likely involve "new transfer technology." That suggests it's not as simple as checking that people are not backtracking only on the same route.
16
The point is, since the system map is two-dimensional, it's complicated, and if it's just "you can't backtrack on the same route," it's easy to circumvent if you live in a neighborhood with more than one bus route, so it won't solve any problem and will just add unnecessary complication and make people's lives more difficult.

But I'll make sure not to throw around any insults, you misogynist fuckface. Not that your original comment was worthy of a substantive reply or anything.

To add something a little more constructive, I think if they're going to bother changing the fare system, they should go with something way better, like Oyster cards in London. It's a prepaid card (you can also link it to a checking account) and it keeps track of your daily activity, so if your individual rides add up to more than a daily pass, it just charges for the daily pass. Once you've got that level of data, it's easy to manage transfers (rides within X minutes of the initial payment are free).

If you're going to try to make fares more complicated, you'd better add something to make it easier for people to use; otherwise, you're contributing to the vicious cycle of increased fares/decreased service/decreasing ridership.
17
@15, I understand the math - all of which factored into the decision. I was a proponent of car-less living for many years. I have owned only one car before my current vehicle, for 4 years in my 20s, which I never drove. I've spent most of my work life commuting by bus and bicycle in the summer. But age changes viewpoints. I'm 31 with a full time career with a BF that works different hours than me. A car is giving us over an hour extra together every day of the week - this has real value to me.

My time is important to me and the use of it is absolutely a factor in my decision (I bill out my personal time at $40/hr). I'm tired of Trimet and I'm not big into Zipcar (actually somewhat of a catalyst after paying $750 to Zipcar for scratching a zipcar while parking).

Not really looking for an argument here. I'm unpacking my experience and viewpoint. I've given this topic enough thought to decide what's right for me. Besides, biofuel is green, right?
18
Also, my costs are lower because my insurance is cheap, my fuel costs are low and I paid a good down payment on a car that needs very little maintenance. My monthly insurance and fuel costs together are still less than 2 bus passes.
19
@17: I didn't mean to argue with your personal decision. I was making a general observation, and I think far more people have continued to own and operate cars as gas prices have gone up (and will go up more in the future) when it doesn't make financial sense for them to do so. They haven't really examined all the costs and other considerations, as you've done. If more people had started using Tri-Met more, many of those bus service cuts wouldn't have happened over the last several years. I don't say this as a guilt-trip. Pay-as-you-drive car insurance, for example, is something most car owners haven't really looked into. I think most people just go with what they're used to and comfortable with, whether it makes sense ultimately or not. Again, I'm speaking generally.
20
"If more people had started using Tri-Met more, many of those bus service cuts wouldn't have happened over the last several years."

I could be wrong, but I'm fairly certain Trimet ridership has increased basically every year. Trimet just does less with more.
21
@Fruit Cup — I think more people will make exactly the same choice you did, if public transit continues becoming more expensive and less convenient. While there are plenty of hidden costs to owning a car, your time is clearly also worth money.

@Reymont — Feminist baiting aside, here's what I think is confusing about a one-way transfer: Our buses don't have the technology to produce one-way transfers. Instead of simplifying the transfer process, if TriMet decides to go with one-way transfers, it will mean installing new technology fleet-wide; I'd be surprised if that saves them any money, at least in the short term. And then, it seems like it would be adding extra responsibility onto the drivers. Instead of looking at your transfer and just checking the time, the operator would now have to check the time AND the ticket's origin and then think, "Okay... they started in Gresham and we're heading to St. John's, so they're legal." That seems more complicated than the current system, not like a time-and-money-saving solution. But without the actual hard numbers on the plan, it's hard to tell.
22
This one-way trip model would really suck. I just hopped a bus to an appointment and got back to the office on a single 1 zone ticket in about 2 hours ($2.05 or whatever I paid when I got the packet of tickets). If I had to pay $5, I would probably have pondered the trip a bit more.

That being said, I probably could afford the $2.50 a ride, but I'm not sure about my fellow riders this afternoon. Is anyone talking about fundamentally changing how our Trimet is funded? Seems like they just aren't getting enough cash out of payroll tax. Admittedly, I've been too bummed to go play the budget game, so maybe that has more thoughts.

As a side note, defining and tracking one-way trips sounds like a pain (and yes, I am a girl) and the capital improvements when service is being cut is weird even if the funding pots are different.
23
@20: "I could be wrong, but I'm fairly certain Trimet ridership has increased basically every year. Trimet just does less with more."
No, but the overall trend has been up. That doesn't negate what I said, however, which is that some of these problems would have been avoided if people would consider weighing all the financial criteria instead of just continuing to drive most or all of the time instead of taking Tri-Met.

"Trimet just does less with more."
Not sure precisely what you mean, but I know many people are resentful about the light-rail expansion. However, it's important to bear in mind overall per-ride operating costs, which as significantly lower with light rail rather than buses over the long term.
24
@geyser, someone should do a case study on our exchange as an example of how to speak with each other with respect on the internet. I didn't read into your comment as a guilt trip at all. I think the basic responsibility each person has is to think through their decisions and be able to support them. I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel some residual guilt, but I stand by the decision as being right for me where I am in life.

@s.mirk, Thanks, yeah. It was honestly a tough decision. But the service cuts really started to break into my time and restrict where I could work. When I really looked at what I was paying, it didn't seem "worth it" anymore. Which is sad. There was a time when I was extremely proud of our transit system.

25
@17: Understand math? But you're a lady!
26
Elderpeche and Reymont:

It's a discussion about buses!!! Jesus. Isn't one of you working on a second masters? Jesus, kids.
27
How "long" is "over the long term"? I've heard the "light rail is cheaper in the long run" from light rail enthusiasts, but I've never seen the numbers pencil out anywhere close to that claim, unless "long run" is something around 100 years. Not to mention a bus can be used on nearly any street, something that can't be said for light rail. And you can actually, you know, charge people for riding the bus, something you can't do with light rail honor system, at least in Portland.

And yes, if ever person road the bus more often, Trimet would have more money. While that's true, it's basically a non-statement. If we had saved up all the money we've spent on roads, we'd all be driving hovercars.
28
@23: "However, it's important to bear in mind overall per-ride operating costs, which as significantly lower with light rail rather than buses over the long term."

Perhaps true, but the break-even point has to be reached first? The initial cost of installing light rail is so high that it takes decades to see any benefit from lower per-ride operating costs. It's a far cry from an energy-saving lightbulb or washing machine or whatever that starts saving money after a year or two.

Furthermore... why a sudden rush to build a train to Milwaukie? There's already light rail to Clackamas. I'd much rather see TriMet hold off on light rail to the 20,000 population metropolis of Milwaukie until the recession is over and instead focus on not jacking up bus fares and continuing to slash bus service. Or, God forbid, restructure labor/retirement/health care costs with its union.
29
@25, aww, you say the sweetest things!
30
Sorry, I can't respond to all of the last 2 comments (and this is a pretty huge topic by now), but as for a "sudden rush to build a train to Milwaukie," it's the culmination of plans that have been ongoing for around 20 years, and to scrap or postpone it now would waste a lot of sunk costs and committed funding that will pay off for our city, especially if people continue supporting TriMet. And lest I sound naive, I don't think the recession is going to end in the foreseeable future, so we might as well carry on with these plans, as TriMet is doing. I know this is a controversial position, and one I can't fully defend here with all the figures it would take to do so.
31
(By "last two" I meant 27 and 28)
32
@30: "it's the culmination of plans that have been ongoing for around 20 years, and to scrap or postpone it now would waste a lot of sunk costs and committed funding that will pay off for our city"

Spoken like a CRC supporter.
33
@28: if you don't understand the different between TriMet's payroll tax-funded operating budget and federal funding for capital projects ("building stuff"), I would spend less time spewing uninformed nonsense on blog threads and more time actually reading about how the world works.
34
Haha, NO. You can't just extrapolate something said about one project to another. My point was that it was not a recent or sudden project, and I think it will pay off in the long-run. I'm not saying it's a good idea just _because of_ existing plans or sunk costs.
35
Reasonable people understood what you wrote, geyser. It's just the intellectually lazy among us that will twist anything to fit a preconceived assumption.
36
@33: Feds are only paying 50% of the bill for the Orange Line, which is actually less than the 60% TriMet was hoping for.

Just because the feds are paying for half of something, you still have to come up with the other half. It's like a 50% off deal from

A lot of that money could easily be going to TrimMet's operating budget, especially tehe $60+ million that is coming directly from TriMet. Think that $60+ million wouldn't help curb fare increases and bus cuts? Or how abotu the $250 million from the Lottery? Or the $100 million from Metro? Or the $50 millon from the City of Portland? Or the $25 million from Clackamas County?

Sure, the feds are matching every local dolar, but that still adds up to a HUGE amount of local money being spent on this project (including, as pointed out earlier, $60+ million from TriMet).

Furthermore, the feds are only (partially) funding construction. All operational costs for the Orange Line come from local sources, including TriMet's operating budget.

Stats/info here... some of which may be dated, but are still close enough to be used in this argument:
http://portlandafoot.org/w/Orange_Line_con…
37
"It's like a 50% off deal from..."

Sorry, didn't finish that bit.

"It's like a 50% off deal from a store. You still have to actually pay for the other 50%, and just because you're getting something for half off doesn't mean it's worth it.
38
You know, when I got fired from my shitty ass job at the Hilton I was wicked happy that I could get home on the same ticket that got me there. It makes me sad to think that people lucky enough to get fired from the Hilton would be screwed by having to buy another bus ticket.
39
@Stunk & White +1 and apply that same logic to the problems pbot is having.

"free federal dollars" come with local match requirements and then local responsibility to operate and maintain that shiny new thing you bought with fed dollars. once you build it with fed dollars they expect you to operate and maintain it at the level you promised.
40
why hasn't there been any attention paid to the fine print in their pleas for budget cuts? in its budget choice game trimet says:

“A recent Employment Relations Board (ERB) decision removed certain cost-saving proposals from our final labor contract offer, so some measures we were hoping to implement—such as bringing wage and health care costs under control—likely will have to wait for a future negotiation (after interest arbitration, which is now delayed).”

http://trimet.org/choices/why-is-there-a-budget-shortfall.htm

the big budget hole? trimet implies it's because they lost an ERB ruling and/or because the law changed. but trimet lost the ERB ruling because it screwed up. trimet didn’t submit evidence it had about health insurance costs. here's what the ERB said:

“the Union…argued that TriMet unlawfully included…a new proposal concerning employee payment of health insurance premiums..TrMet understood, or should have understood that (the email attachments TriMet failed to submit) prove that TriMet made (the proposal the union says it did not)…TriMet had every reason to offer these attachments as an exhibit at the hearing…TriMet’s failure to offer the February 11 e-mail attachments as evidence, whether an intentional or negligent act, does not provide a ‘good and sufficient reason’ to reopen the record…”

http://www.oregon.gov/ERB/orders/UP01611.pdf?ga=t – see page 4 paragraph 2

trimet had the evidence it needed to make sure its final offer wouldn’t blow its budget but they failed to submit it.

hate the fare proposal? get ready for another one next year. the bleeding continues. as it says in trimet’s depressing budget game:

“(the health insurance cost in the contract) could have an impact of between $5 million and $10 million on our FY13 budget, and even more in future years.”

and even more in future years.
41
When in doubt, revert back to the old "different colored money" argument.

And the "it's federal money!" argument never ceases to delight me, as if federal money comes out of the pockets of inhabitants of some distant planet.
42
The public transits in Toronto is based on one way transfer and it is very confusing but I got use to it after a while. The NYC MTA public transit doesn't even allow transfer if you leave the subway station. 17million is a big gap to fill and I guess they will have to do whatever they can to close it. I wonder how much money Trimet loses with people riding the MAX without paying for a fare.
43
Some of you are clearly opposed to this idea (aside from those going back and forth at each other with your pseudo intellectual bullshit), as am I but for me i would be really pissed if they discontinue the day ticket (5$...good all day) as that is the best option if you do not have a monthly pass (which you should if you ride regularly)...it's the best deal
44
I think that Trimet is in the horrible situation of just not having the money to do the logical, cheaper-in-the-long-run thing which is to go to a smart card payment system along with restriction of entry to most of the MAX stations.

So this means that Trimet will have to figure in the ongoing fare evasion of the current system into its fare increases. That's because evasion won't cease with new one-way paper transfers and drivers expected to rapidly scan these crumpled little bits of paper as they keep to a tight schedule.

Most of Trimet's fare management solutions of the last decade are based on the idea of, "well, just have the driver check for that too..." You could get away with the unworkability of that approach as long as metro Trimet payroll taxes (75% of operating funds) were always increasing and burying the problem.

Current Trimet GM Neil McFarlane's whole career has been as a contruction project manager. He's not an operations guy and now he has to keep Trimet afloat through the worst time in its history. Wrong guy at the wrong time.
45
I agree that Trimet should get rid of the zone system and have a flat fare, but they're going to lose riders by having that one way fare system. Many can not afford that , and it's going to cause many fare disputes between passengers and drivers. I say keep the current transfer system, but without the zones, and they'll be good for 2 hours like the max tickets.
46
Agree with both #44 and #45. I am really tired of people riding MAX and streetcar for free, because the majority of evaders can afford fare.
47
And who was the budgetary genius that decided to put in slow streetcars where buses already provide service?
48
1) There are times that (for a one hour trip) zipcars will see more use - especially if you are a regular user.

2) One-way fares have been used in Vancouver BC - at least, they were in the 80s. Each transfer worked in two directions - either north and east, or south and west - and the bus routes conformed. You could go as far north and east as you liked for the day, but to come back you bought another ticket. You had the bright mountains visible throughout the city to the north. It was more than easy enough for an 8th grader to get around.

Of course, some people would hold onto their transfers and try to swap their transfers once they reached their destination with folks who were waiting for a bus coming back the other way. At school this happened ALOT and you had a 50/50 chance but since student fares were cheap it wasn't that big of a deal.