Ok, so it doesn’t rhyme.
Anyway, as you may or may not know Trimet recently cut back services on several bus lines that run in the Portland metro area. They left Fareless Square (FS) alone but it is apparently back on the chopping block. One option they are considering is removing the busses from being a part of the FS, leaving only the Max and Streetcar to serve the chunk of land extending from Lloyd Center all the way through downtown to PSU.
I’m not typically a person that would attempt to rally people but the FS saves me about $700 a year, and we aren’t just talking about me here. Being that PSU is located within the FS I’d be willing to bet a large percentage of students, faculty, and staff use this mode of transportation to get to work. This doesn’t even begin to account for the plethora of people that migrate downtown daily to go to work, shopping, out to eat, etc. This also doesn’t account for any other downtown traffic that typically makes good use of the busses.
So, if they restrict the FS to the Max and Streetcar only can you even imagine how crowded they would be? Most of the busses I am on, day and night, are fairly full during the week, as has been the Max during my experiences. Further more, if bus service in the FS area is no longer free many people will likely just drive their cars, which will increase traffic downtown (which would be quite bad), which will also increase pollution, which will eventually decrease our quality of life… you see where I’m going.
Why don’t you just suck it up and pay for the bus service every day you ask? Because it’s too damn pricey. The way Trimet currently sells fares is in 2 hour increments. So a 2 hour ticket for all zones is $2.30 for an adult, or $2 for 1 or 2 zones. I happen to be at school longer than 2 hours every day, and I’m pretty sure most people work more than 2 hours every day. So to get back home I, and everybody else, will have to pay another $2.30. So $4.60 a day times 5 (working) days a week times 50 weeks (say you take a vacation) a year equals $1,150. Trimet may be hurting for cash but last time I checked so were most Americans.
Speaking of the economy, cutting back routes in, or eliminating, the FS will have a negative impact on stores, restaurants, bars, etc. I myself have a tendency to go to locations that are on or close to the FS. There are several businesses that likely get a large portion of their business due to the fact that they are easy to get to. If the FS no longer exists, their sales will likely go down, or worse.
You may wonder if I have a point to writing this, and I do. Trimet is hosting an open house on July 13th for the public to voice their opinions. If you can’t make it to that send them an email at email@example.com and ask them to not change the FS, or if they do change it ask for them to restructure their fare system to something like a per trip system. I don’t mind paying to get to school every day, but I can’t afford it with their current price structure. I ride the bus about 7 miles a day; it shouldn’t cost me $4 for 7 miles.
Portland seems to be a city that listens (sometimes) to its citizens so speak up about this. I think the FS has been around since the 70’s. I believe I heard on TV that they plan to reinstate FS (if they eliminate it) when the economy is better, but I think we’ve all heard ideas like that before and know that they don’t usually happen that way.
Links: Map of Fareless Square, Proposed Changes to FS, Bus Frequency Reduction
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