PORTLAND – Facing a $17-million shortfall this year, TriMet's unveiled its final plan for budget cut proposals, including a switch to flat fares, rate hikes, eliminating the free zone and cutting back some routes.
Those choices along with selling more ads to increase revenue, should make up at least $12 million of the shortfall when coupled with internal changes such as streamlining and layoffs, TriMet officials said Wednesday.
The changes were set to go into effect in September, 2012.
The agency said it will do away with the free-ride zone downtown for MAX light rail, saving an estimated $2.7 million.
Officials said Wednesday they heard from more than 5,100 people in public comment hearings, emails and calls in the past two months.
TriMet said accountants anticipated the shortfall last year, and blamed lower tax revenues, cuts in federal funding and an ongoing union contract delay.
Instead of a sliding fare scale based on travel routes, the new adult 2-hour ticket would cost a flat rate of $2.50 for any trips across town. That's $.10 higher than the present fare and $.15 higher for youth. The round-trip pass will still cost $5 and $3.30 for youth.
The fares increase an estimated 19 percent.
More: Fare scales
The public was also invited to comment on the final proposal:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 503-238-RIDE (7433), option #5 Fax: 503-962-6451
Mail: Budget Feedback,TriMet MK2, 4012 SE 17th Ave., Portland, OR 97202 TTY: 503-238-5811 (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays)
TriMet explained the flat fares make transfer times uniform for buses and trains.
The current zone system was created 30 years ago to charge for trips from the suburbs to downtown Portland, TriMet said. That kept fares affordable for low-income and minority riders, a demographic which has shifted since that time, officials argued.
In addition to restructuring the fare system, proposed cuts included 26 bus lines, MAX light rail service frequency and $300,000 in cuts to the streetcar budget.