PORTLAND – TriMet voted Wednesday on ending the free rail zone in downtown, fare hikes and cuts in service as the board approved the latest budget Friday.
There will be a fare for every ride, on both TriMet’s MAX trains and the city’s streetcars is what’s coming this fall. The agency also approved fare hikes and come service cuts effective in September.
More: TriMet budget
There are two reasons for the end of free rides, according to Portland Bureau Of Transportation spokesperson Dan Anderson; One is to stay consistent with TriMet’s plans. The other is to be fair to people east of the Willamette River when new east side streetcar service begins September 22nd.
"We understand that’s a difficult decision for us to make but also for people who ride street cars for free but we think it’s an equity and fairness issue,” said Anderson. “If people on the east side have to pay for the streetcar, then people on the west side should as well.”
Regular riders in the current free rail zone are used to not paying a fare.
“It’s really convenient. I live right up the street and the fact that I don’t have to pay is very nice, especially being a college student, said Paige Bruguier.
And some businesses along the free rail line will be sorry to see free fares go away.
“We sell a lot of cards and gifts to people who work in the area and if they can’t just pop up and back, then that might keep them from coming,” said Torie Nguyen, co-owner of Crafty Wonderland.
The city is considering how much to charge for an all day street car fare, come September. Right now it appears the cost will either be $1 or $1.50.
Mayor Sam Adams’ office confirmed they are looking into whether businesses may validate street car fares, for customers.