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number nine
TriMet #9 bus in Old Town, April 2010

TriMet is the agency that builds and operates most of Portland's mass transit systems, including the bus, MAX light rail, LIFT paratransit and WES commuter rail. It also helps operate, but does not build or own, the Portland Streetcar.


[edit] Philosophy

According to its Citizens Advisory Committee on the Budget, TriMet’s philosophy is that the purpose of transit agencies is not just to move people but "to build communities and transform the built environment." In May 2010, outgoing General Manager Fred Hansen described this as his most unusual belief.

This philosophy has led to the agency's focus on maximizing ridership in densely developed areas with frequent service and MAX, which is especially attractive to choice riders.

As a result, the agency tends to improve its best bus routes over time, even at the cost of eliminating its worst ones.

"If we're just going to run it every hour, we'd rather not have it at all because you're just not going to to get the ridership," TriMet Executive Director of Communications and Technology Carolyn Young said in October 2010. "We want it frequent and we want it reliable."

[edit] Budget

See full article: TriMet budget

[edit] Revenue

TriMet is funded mainly by a payroll tax on certain employers within its service area, which accounted in spring 2010 for about 55 percent of the agency's revenue. According to TriMet's 2010 Citizen Advisory Committee report at that time, another 22 percent or so came from fares, 16 percent from state and federal operating grants and 9 percent from miscellaneous other sources.

[edit] Worsening budget problems

Due to the rapidly rising cost of health care in the United States, the rising service demands and lower payroll taxes of an aging population and what TriMet's Citizen Advisory Committee on the Budget described as benefits for unionized workers and retirees that were "very high when compared with other public and private employers," TriMet will face major and growing threats to its budget from its medical costs and pensions between 2010 and 2020.

According to TriMet's projections, this threat will remain even after the economy recovers.

[edit] See also

[edit] Unusually high ridership

As of 2011, according to the Texas Transportation Institute's annual urban mobility report from 2012, the Portland metropolitan area ranked eighth in the nation in unlinked transit trips per resident:

  1. New York City-Newark: 217 annual trips per resident
  2. Washington DC: 105 trips
  3. San Francisco-Oakland: 104 trips
  4. Honolulu: 100 trips
  5. Boston: 92 trips
  6. Chicago: 75 trips
  7. Philadelphia: 67 trips
  8. Portland: 59 trips
  9. Seattle: 59 trips
  10. Los Angeles: 50 trips

In the fourth quarter of 2009, TriMet carried people on 313,500 trips during an average weekday, according to the American Public Transit Association. By that measure, it was the 12th most-used transit agency in the United States, just below Miami's MDT and just above Denver's RTD.

TriMet's disproportionately high ridership, relative to its size -- in 2009, Portland had only the 23rd largest metro area in the U.S. by population -- may be a result of the agency's philosophy of maximizing ridership, especially among choice riders, by offering services like light rail, bike racks, the Portland Streetcar, open schedule data and the Free Rail Zone, which was, until 2010, the nation's largest free mass transit zone.

[edit] Public release of transit data

TriMet has been a national leader in its use of public data to help riders and private companies access and display route information on telephones and computers. It was the first agency in the country to make all its data public on the web, the first to have its data on Google Transit, and as of October 2010 remained the only agency to offer real-time arrival data for every stop in its system.

This effort developed out of a 2005 discussion between TriMet IT manager Bibiana McHugh and Google engineer Chris Harrelson, who together used TriMet's data to create the first working model of Google Transit using the General Transit Feed Specification.

[edit] Leadership

TriMet is governed by a seven-member board of directors, who are appointed by Oregon's governor to four-year terms and can be dismissed at the governor's request. (They "serve at the pleasure of the governor.") The board, in turn, selects the agency's chief executive, known as the general manager, and approves his or her top deputies.

Neil McFarlane, previously the agency's executive director for capital projects, became general manager in July 2010.

[edit] Labor

TriMet's unionized employees are represented by Portland-based Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757.

[edit] Benefits for alternative commuting employees

TriMet provides free annual transit passes to its employees and buys some of them annual Zipcar memberships in lieu of maintaining company vehicles. According to Bob Hastings, the agency also keeps "a small collection of bikes we can use to get around; to meetings, errands, noontime outings."

[edit] History

See the full article: History of TriMet.

[edit] News articles about TriMet

[edit] External links

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