2011 TriMet service increase
From Portland Afoot
The 2011 TriMet service increase, scheduled for September 2011, would add a small number of service hours to 10 crowded buses and the Blue Line while raising TriMet fares, including adult and youth monthly TriMet passes.
However, the improvements would only be possible if TriMet wins a series of legal battles against its union. If the agency loses its case to sharply cut worker benefits -- as of 2010, TriMet covered nearly all health care costs for union workers, retirees and their spouses and dependents -- the agency says it would have to cut $10 million to $12 million from service, about as much as it did during the 2010 TriMet cuts.
 Lines that might improve
On April 13, TriMet said that lines receiving slightly better service, due to overcrowding, would be the 4, 9, 12, 14, 35, 44, 52, 75, 78 and 94. The Blue Line would get better service during evening rush hour.
 If a compromise is not reached
Although TriMet does not expect to enter binding arbitration over its union contract until "fall-ish" at the soonest, TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch said in late April, the agency plans to begin the service increases in September 2011 whether or not a deal has been reached.
At the time, Fetsch said, the agency had made no contingency plan for where cuts would fall if it does not win its legal fight, which will be decided by federal judges and arbitrators.
"We proposed this budget with the assumption that management offers would prevail," Fetsch said. "If it doesn't, then we would quickly do a process to determine where we would cut $10 to $12 million."
 TriMet: Stalled negotiations won't prevent service boost
If the fight were to drag through 2012 or 2013, Fetsch said, TriMet would still not see major cost increases, because the agency has frozen all employees' wages and, as of January 2011, is requiring union workers and retirees to pay out of pocket for all increases to their health care premiums. (Union members also have the option of choosing a health care plan with a deductible.)
Because of this, Fetsch said, the agency does not need to resolve its labor issue before increasing service.
However, the agency's ability to freeze wages and benefits is itself the subject of an unfair labor practice complaint by the union, which TriMet might lose.
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