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What McFarlane could promise

neil mcfarlane bw I’m proud of the reporting in our September print magazine, the Scapegoat Issue, which looks closely at a few choices that have led to TriMet’s cuts and what might be done to correct them. (It’s arriving at Microcosm and Reading Frenzy this afternoon, and going out to subscribers today, too.)

But if I could choose one bit of news that could get around, it’d be this: If November’s ballot issue passes, TriMet gets $50 million to spend however it wants.

You can read the ballot issue page for details, but in the end it’s as simple as that.

This fact should be in every news story about the ballot issue. Neil McFarlane, TriMet’s new general manager, could promise to put the money toward interest payments on the Orange Line – maybe enough to save the new MAX line from being delayed a year or more. Or he could promise to put it toward restoring the last year of service cuts to existing bus and MAX lines.

This is a clear choice about Portland’s future, and it’s even in the hands of voters. McFarlane has been conscientious about attending events like today’s OPAL rally, and if I see him there I expect to ask him if he’ll tell the public what TriMet would use this money for.

Update: He wasn’t there. I don’t think anyone from TriMet was. In any case, you’ll know the answer as soon as I do.

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