Kaiser endorses longer TriMet transfers; AORTA says TriMet would come out ahead

phil wuThe news at today’s TriMet board discussion of lengthening transfer times wasn’t the TriMet board’s call for further study. It was two big endorsements.

They came from a couple of outsiders: Dr. Phil Wu, a Kaiser Permanente physician and respected active transportation advocate; and Jim Howell, a retired TriMet planner and the director of AORTA, a longstanding transit advocacy group.

Wu announced Wednesday that Kaiser Permanente, the state’s top commercial insurer and largest physicians’ group, has endorsed the proposal to lengthen transfer times to three hours and all night after 7 p.m. He’d alerted Kaiser to the proposal after learning about it from Upstream Public Health, an OPAL ally Wu helps direct, which also endorsed the plan Wednesday.

jim howellAnd Howell made his group’s first public endorsement of OPAL‘s proposal, coolly brushing off TriMet’s careful projections that longer transfers would cost the agency upwards of $2 million annually.

The amount of money involved is just too small to predict precisely, Howell said after the meeting.

"They make it sound like a big deal," Howell said. "It isn’t. It’s pocket change in a billion-dollar operation."

Howell predicted that unlimited evening transfers, especially, would lure many more people to ride TriMet after nightfall – hopping on to reach friends, movies and bars – and end up boosting the agency’s revenue during a time of day when few buses are crowded.

I’ve updated our wiki page about OPAL‘s Campaign for a Fair Transfer with these and other new details.

(Ongoing disclosure: We’ve partnered with OPAL on another project that isn’t directly related. No money changes hands between us and Portland Afoot doesn’t endorse OPAL policy positions, though obviously we’re sympathetic to their general mission.)

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