Thursday, April 12, 2012

TriMet releases FY13 budget, final proposal for service cuts and fare changes to help close budget

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After six months of extensive public outreach, Portland, Ore.-area TriMet released its final budget proposal to close the $12 million to $17 million shortfall in its upcoming Fiscal Year 2013 budget. The budget begins July 1, 2012.

TriMet is targeting $12 million in cuts with changes taking effect in September 2012. The unsettled labor contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union will not be resolved until after the budget begins. TriMet is proposing $12 million in cuts and changes now and depending on the outcome of the arbitration of the contract, may need to cut an additional $5 million during the FY13 budget.

With the slow jobs recovery, TriMet expects to receive about $3 million less in payroll tax revenues than previously anticipated. It also estimates a $4 million cut in federal formula funds that are used for preventive maintenance; the agency receives $40 million to $45 million annually.

The unresolved union contract adds $5 million to $10 million to the FY13 budget shortfall. The contract expired in 2009 and both parties are heading to interest arbitration in May 2012, with a decision expected after the start of the FY13 budget.

TriMet proposes to move to a flat fare system, from its now distance-fare stystem.
• Adult flat fare would increase to $2.50 and be valid for two hours, allowing for transfers and round-trips. A one-day ticket with unlimited rides would be priced at the current Day Pass of $5.
• Youth fares would increase 15 cents to $1.65 for a two-hour ticket; one-day ticket would drop from the current $5 to $3.30.
• Honored Citizen fares would not change and remain at $1 for two-hour ticket, $2 for a one-day ticket with unlimited rides.

TriMet promoses to eliminate free-ride zones on MAX in Downtown Portland and the Lloyd District, a $2.7 million in savings. It also plans to earn an additional $300,000 in revenue by selling ad space on the TriMet website.

The original proposal from February called for $500,000 in savings. By identifying $1.2 million in internal efficiencies and program cuts it will minimize service cuts and impact to riders. During this recession, TriMet has already cut 200 positions, frozen salaries for non-union employees now in its fourth year and required greater cost sharing for health care benefits.

The original proposal from February totaled $2 million in cuts. The cuts have been reduced by about 50 percent, with no elimination of any weekend bus service or MAX service, except for the elimination of free rides in the Free Rail Zone.

TriMet helps fund Portland Streetcar operations and is proposing a $300,000 reduction in FY13 contribution, down $100,000 from original proposal.

The board will hold a first reading and public hearing on this proposal at its April 25 meeting. A second reading and vote will be held at the board's May 23 meeting. The meetings will be held in the Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Avenue.

Fares changes take effect on September 1, 2012; service changes take effect September 2, 2012.

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