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TriMet fare increase, service cuts blamed for 3Q ridership slip

The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) posted a ridership loss in the third quarter, agency officials announced yesterday.

Overall, fall ridership dipped 1.1 percent during the period compared with third-quarter 2011. The decline was expected as a result of a fare increase, the elimination of the Free Rail Zone and the implementation of service cuts in September to close a $12 million budget gap, TriMet officials said in a prepared statement.

"We had to make tough budget choices to cut service and raise fares to offset health care costs required by our union contract, and despite those changes, ridership figures demonstrate how important transit is to our region," said General Manager Neil McFarlane.

The agency provided more than 25 million trips on its MAX and WES rail lines, and buses during the period.

Ridership on the MAX light-rail service fell 7 percent to 9.7 million, while weekly trips fell 7.2 percent, weekday trips dropped 7 percent, weekend trips slid 8 percent and rush-hour trips declined 6.4 percent.

However, WES commuter-rail ridership numbers for the quarter told a different story: quarterly trips climbed 8.9 percent, weekday/rush-hour trips rose 8.5 percent and weekly trips increased 8.5 percent.

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