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Portland transit agency's FY2013 budget includes fare increases, service cuts

Yesterday, the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon’s (TriMet) board adopted a fiscal-year 2013 budget that includes layoffs, service cuts, fare changes and a reduction in the agency’s contribution to the Portland Streetcar project to address a $12 million budget shortfall.

The deficit stems from a slow economic recovery, a potential loss of federal operating funds and an unresolved labor contract, TriMet officials said in a prepared statement. The $458 million operating budget will take effect July 1.

“During this budget process, the agency faced many tough choices, but we believe this is a responsible and sound budget,” said TriMet President Bruce Warner. “It reflects the public and the board’s priority to preserve service and navigate the financial uncertainties ahead.”

Depending on the outcome of arbitration over an unsettled contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union, the agency may have to trim an additional $5 million from the budget, agency officials said. The contract expired in 2009 and a ruling in the interest arbitration is anticipated in late July, they said.

Internal cuts to operations, including layoffs, will save the agency $1.2 million, TriMet officials estimate.

Fare changes will take effect Sept. 1. The budget will eliminate fare zones to create a flat fare system, which will result in ticket price increases in some instances, such as the two-hour adult and two-hour youth fares. However, fares for the youth day ticket/unlimited rides and “honored citizen” day ticket/unlimited rides will be reduced.

In addition, the free rail zone will be eliminated, which is projected to save the agency $2.7 million. As a result, fares will be required on the MAX in downtown Portland and the Lloyd District.

TriMet also plans to reduce its contribution to the Portland Streetcar project by $300,000.

As for revenue, agency officials expect the slow economic recovery will result in $3 million less in payroll tax revenue than previously anticipated. They’re also anticipating a $4 million cut in federal formula funds used for preventive maintenance.


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More News from 6/14/2012