TriMet recently published their Transit Investment Priorities (TIP) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. With many thanks to Adri Coates, @pdxtrimetrider on Twitter, lets explore each part of their plan to show where they are lying to the public.
In recent years, TriMet has experienced extreme budget pressures that have affected service, fares and planned investments. Below are highlights from our plan for the current fiscal year covering July 2012–June 2013.
Local retired bus driver and blogger Al Margulies crunched the numbers together that TriMet put out for FY 2011 and FY 2012.
As we can see by these numbers, there was no budget shortfall. After the numbers were crunched, you can see there is a surplus of money, just say of $14 million for FY2012. To further support this lie, OPAL broke this story of Trimet hogging money, thanks to Portland Afoot.
Late this spring, TriMet’s board approved $12 million in cuts and revenue-raising measures, based on a handful of assumptions: 1) Its payroll tax revenue would come in $3 million lower than needed, 2) $4 million would be lost because of anticipated cuts to federal transit funding, and 3) TriMet’s impasse with its union over lush healthcare benefits could eat up $5-10 million. But then, over the summer, the union fight was resolved in TriMet’s favor, and thefeds passed a transportation bill without a $4 million cut (though the money hasn’t been distributed yet). As for the payroll tax, for the past two years TriMet underestimated the amount of money that would come in from the tax—low-balling the number by $7.7 million in 2011 and an additional $15.8 million in 2012.
As we can see, TriMet is hiding all this money from restoring lines and service to the people who REALLY need it, the riders.
Prioritize restoration of 15-minute or better service on Frequent Service Bus and MAX lines.
Because they benefit the most riders, Frequent Service bus lines and MAX will be our priority when funding is available to restore service. Resources will first be put toward improving reliability and overcrowding on these lines. We will make specific decisions about the balance of service restoration with public input through our annual service plans, and we will provide specific proposals for how to do this through our TIP and budget processes. TriMet is struggling to achieve financial stability (see section 2 below), so it may still be many years before funding is available to fully restore Frequent Service on bus and MAX lines.
I guess the sardine effect will continue to happen on all the buses and MAX during rush hour.
Continue efficient, safe and timely construction on Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail.
Construction on the 7.3-mile Portland Milwaukie Light Rail Project began on the new Willamette River Bridge in July 2011. The new MAX line will connect Downtown Portland and Portland State University through South Waterfront to Southeast Portland, Milwaukie and North Clackamas County. The project is expected to create up to 14,500 jobs and generate up to $573 million in income through its opening in 2015. Our emphasis will be on sound management to complete the project on time and on budget.
All I can say to this is that is that Clackamas County voted AGAINST the light rail, so what does TriMet do? Continue building, forcing the costs onto Multnomah County. I have a strange feeling that the only people who will ride it are drivers going to Center Garage.
Increase TriMet presence on the system through a focus on fare inspection.
We continue to strengthen our focus on fare enforcement by adding more staff dedicated to fare inspection on the system. Our FY2013 budget provides for 10 additional staff on top of the six new supervisors hired in FY2012 exclusively for enforcing fares and the TriMet Code. This is part of a recent policy shift from education (issuing warnings) to enforcement (issuing citations and exclusions, even for first-time violations).
In the first year of the focus on enforcement, citations rose 84 percent and warnings dropped 55 percent, as a result of this policy shift and staff investment. When we had to end the Free Rail Zone downtown due to a budget shortfall, it provided the opportunity for additional fare-based security checks on vehicles traveling downtown.
I can’t count how many times I’ve seen broken ticket machines or hearing about drivers giving out wrong passes.
@trimet driver: "that's the wrong transfer ticket." Me: "that's the ticket I was given by the driver." Him: "that's not my goddamn fault."—
Stephen Beaudoin (@smbeaudoin) December 17, 2012
me: "I'm running late to a meeting + don't have change. That's the ticket I was given." Him: "get off my bus, you're holding me up." @trimet—
Stephen Beaudoin (@smbeaudoin) December 17, 2012
So I suppose the moral is that the grumpy man driving the @trimet 8 this AM really had no sense of Christmas cheer. Boo Trimet.—
Stephen Beaudoin (@smbeaudoin) December 17, 2012
Skygazing Cat (@mitdasein) December 17, 2012
Before focusing on fare inspections, can we at least focus on getting these machines working? That way, people actually wanting to PAY for a ride can do so without any trouble? The whole deal about riding to another stop doesn’t work when you have only one line coming through every 18-20 minutes, sometimes longer!
Continue making customer information improvements.
We will continue to enhance on-street service information for riders by deploying new two-sided bus stop signs, recognizable by their unique shape and distinctive blue poles. The signs include Stop ID numbers and stop-specific Quick Response (QR) codes for use with our popular TransitTracker real-time arrival information system. We expect to have Stop IDs posted at 85 percent of our bus stops by the end of 2012, and at all stops by July 2013.
Digital information displays will be added to all Eastside and Westside MAX station platforms over the next three years. This will enhance our ability to provide service and safety alerts to riders and further increase access to real-time arrival information.
This is a total joke. Several times I see the alert about a delay on the MAX well into the incident.
#trimet buses at Clackamas Town Center will be boarding on Monterrey, north of the mall—
TriMet Scanner (@trimetscanner) December 11, 2012
Several bus lines are not serving Clackamas Town Center due to police activity. trimet.org/a—
TriMet (@trimet) December 12, 2012
There comes a point that trying to get information out really doesn’t work. By the time TriMet got this information out, the entire country knew what was going on at Clackamas Town Center. The lack of care on TriMet’s part is evident just by the timing.
Bring employee benefit costs to a sustainable level in line with other transit agencies.
Health care costs for TriMet’s union employees more than doubled during the last labor contract, and the benefit to pay nearly all costs for active union employees and retirees is unsustainable. In 2009, our Board of Directors adopted a policy to bring the agency’s health care and other post-employment benefit costs in line with a sustainable financial forecast. With this direction, TriMet proposed a labor contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757 that was more financially sustainable.
In July 2012, TriMet’s Last Best Offer was selected in binding arbitration and took effect as the union contract through its expiration in November 2012. While this arbitration result relieves the pressure for additional budget cuts this fiscal year, the overall need to change the agency’s cost structure remains imperative. Without these changes, growing health care and other post-employment benefit costs threaten TriMet’s ability to provide service at the level that people need and the region calls for. In FY2013, we will continue to work with the union to negotiate a fair benefits package that is in line with the market and peer agencies, and includes more contributions from employees and retirees.
This tells me that it took 3 years for TriMet and the Union to reach a contract agreement. As stated before, TriMet set aside money they felt would be necessary to send towards the employees, but ended up not needing it. Will that happen again? Another 3 years of fighting and therefore cutting MORE service to set aside MORE money for a POSSIBLE union agreement? What can be cut next?
Increase fare system efficiency by moving to a “flat fare” structure and preparing for electronic fares.
As noted above, TriMet has moved to a “flat fare” system. This change is helping to speed up boarding and reduce travel time for riders, while reducing the fare collection burden on operators so they can focus on safe and comfortable vehicle operation. The flat fare system will also make it easier to switch to a more efficient and convenient electronic fare collection system in the future. We are currently planning to test an electronic fare system with the opening of the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project in 2015. If successful, the system would be deployed system-wide by 2017.
In conjunction with this effort, TriMet is also working with local mobile-payment providerGlobeSherpa on development of a mobile ticketing system that will let riders purchase and use fares instantly on their smartphones. Of course, smartphones are only one possible method of electronic payment, but it is a good way to test the potential of such a system. We expect to make this convenient new service available to all riders as early as spring 2013.
TriMet is willing to spend more money on this Portland-Milwuakie Light Rail Project by adding more ticket machines. Great plan, but TriMet needs to focus on getting the current machines operational. There are machines in the system that are over 10 years old, yet TriMet still has those in operation.
Engage customers and constituents through a series of Service Enhancement Plans, starting with the Westside.
Starting in 2012, we began taking a fresh look at how transit service and access to transit can be improved throughout the region. By talking with our customers and constituents about service needs, improvements and funding, we can become more efficient, streamline service and engage in continuous improvement. As such, our Service Enhancement Plansdirectly advance our goal to develop more and better service for the region, with new service starting once the economy rebounds.
The first in a series of these planning efforts focuses on Beaverton, Hillsboro, Cornelius, Forest Grove and Washington County, including Aloha/Reedville, Bethany, Rock Creek, Cedar Mill and Cedar Hills. This Westside Service Enhancement Plan will result in a new service vision that will inform the TIP. The Westside Service Enhancement Plan will identify areas for future service and opportunities to partner with jurisdictions and the private sector for access to transit improvements including biking and walking to bus lines and MAX. In future years, the effort will focus on other parts of the region, with the Eastside and Southwest identified for 2013-14, the Southeast in 2014-15 and the North in 2015-16.
Lets back up for a minute. how many meetings were held in Tigard about cutting the Line 12 at Tigard Transit Center? Zero. What makes anyone think that it will be different this time around? I see major bus lines on the west side getting cut next September.
Trimet says that it has major money problems. Lets look as their payroll. The link was provided to me thanks to Adri Coats, @pdxtrimetrider on Twitter. These are the numbers from 2009.
For Fiscal Year 2009, Fred Hansen grossed $247,071.70, which equates out to $20.589 a MONTH. On retirement, Mr. Hansen is making $15,800 a month, equaling $189,600 a year. If you think that’s extreme, as of 2009, there were 129 people on the Capital Projects Payroll with a total gross payment $10.3 BIillion. Leading the pack was our good friend, Neil McFarlane, grossed $184,690.92, which averages $15,390 a month. Our wonderful liar of the century, Mary Fetsch, had a gross salary of $107,242.47, which calculates out to a monthly paycheck of $8936.87. Jana Toran, classified as the Director of Legal Services at TriMet, grossed $161,290.95, which makes a monthly paycheck for her at $13,440.91. Shelly Lomax, Operations Director, has a gross salary of $113,349,78, which equates out to $9445.82 Lets not forget about our friend Kelly Runnion, Executive Secretary. She has a gross yearly income of $73,669.94, grossing $6139.16 a month. What’s interesting is that JC Vannatta, Neil’s right hand man, is not listed on the payroll.
The salaries I just listed equal out to over $885,000. Combined with the salaries of the Capital Projects group, we are looking at almost $11 Billion. I think we can really see where the problem is with TriMet and what needs to be fixed. Would you agree Neil?