Tag Archives: Trimet

Portland’s famous free rail zones — going, going, gone

By Rob Sadowsky, Contributing Columnist

In just a few short weeks, the Portland’s free rail zone for both TriMet light rail and the streetcar will end its more than 37 year history. The concept was adopted in 1975 to combat limited parking and air pollution and was initially referred to as Fareless Square. However, due to budget restrictions, the program is ending at the close of August.

The days of hopping on a train or streetcar downtown and going a few blocks is over. Will this mean a sharp increase in people driving downtown? We don’t know. People typically don’t get in a car to drive a few blocks anyway. It is more likely to cut out trips entirely. This could have more of a financial impact to restaurants and small businesses than anything else. There have been many times that I’ve jumped on a train both to save time and extend my noon lunch choices. I’m lucky, though. I can jump on my bike and take that short, simple trip by bike in as short if not a shorter amount of time. Continue reading

Goodbye free rail zone, and everything you stood for

Street Roots editorial 6.22.2012

The free rail zone, once known as Fareless Square is gone.

In a city that prides itself on being green, innovative and equity driven, it seems odd that besides a few organizations and voices in the wilderness, losing the free-rail zone didn’t seem to matter much.

It sure wasn’t all that important to Tri-Met. Didn’t hear much from the city, or other government institutions on the issue. The business community didn’t seem to mind, and why would they. Most out-of-town visitors, especially those attending conventions, will have their ride subsidized with revenue from a visitors tax.

When Fareless Square began in 1975, and throughout the years, it was held up as a beacon in the movement of progressive economic development, helping curb air pollution and encouraging people not to drive. Continue reading

TriMet: First priority is service, regardless of budget crisis

By Neil McFarlane, Contributing Columnist

Your Feb. 17 edition had both an editorial and a guest column on TriMet budget issues, and I want to set the record straight.

We all agree that TriMet provides a vital service to our riders and to the region, especially to low-income people and communities of color. It’s the most important thing we do. And when we face budget challenges, service cuts are the last place we look to fill any shortfall.

We’re facing a budget shortfall of up to $17 million for several reasons.

The biggest cost driver is the unresolved contract with the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), in the range of $5 million to $10 million. The current contract expired more than two years ago, and the benefits under the existing contract are likely among the richest in the country. Continue reading

SR editorial: TriMet cuts short-sighted compared to the impact

Five-dollar fares. No free rail zone. Reduced lift services for people living with disabilities. Less frequent services for specific bus and train lines. TriMet and the region are in a world of hurt.

It’s hard to believe that it has come to this, after knowing for years that without major overhauls the system would be overwhelmed. Continue reading

OPAL: TriMet fare plan unfair to poorer bus riders

By Jonathan Ostar, Contributing Writer

Transit equity means identifying and prioritizing the needs of those who rely on transit the most. Fare increases and service cuts should always be a last resort, yet TriMet is proposing to increase fares, cut services and eliminate round-trip transfers to save money. These changes will hurt regular transit riders who depend on transit the most. Continue reading

Open houses scheduled to consider the fate of Fareless Square

busart1This your chance to chime in on the Fareless Square debate.  It’s become an annual affair to have TriMet attempt to do away or curtail the idea of free bus travel through the city’s central corridor. It’s never happened, in part because of the vital service the fareless area provides for not only individuals traveling, but businesses who rely on the mobile economy downtown.

Here’s the meetings notice from TriMet:

TriMet is currently seeking public comments on several important transit issues, including proposed service cuts and possible changes to Fareless Square. We are holding a series of open houses throughout the metro area in late February and early March 2009. If you can’t attend, you can learn more about the proposed changes below and send us your comments by email, phone or mail.

Wednesday, Feb. 25, 4-7 p.m., Portland Building, Room C, 1120 SW 5th Ave.
Portland, OR 97204
, Thursday, Feb. 26, 4-7 p.m.

Clackamas Town Center (vacant store formerly The Icing, near Sears on the 1st floor of Mall) 12000 SE 82nd Ave., Happy Valley, OR 97086

Friday, Feb. 27, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Portland State Office Building, Room 1E (Lloyd District)
800 NE Oregon St., Portland, OR 97232

Tuesday, March 3, 4-7 p.m., Beaverton City Hall/Council Chambers, 4755 SW Griffith Dr. Beaverton, OR 97005

Communication aids: If you require a sign-language interpreter or other communication aids at a meeting, please call 503-802-8200 (select option 4) or TTY 503-802-8058 (7:30 a.m. to 5:30
p.m. weekdays) at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting.

Before implementing any of the proposed changes, we will review all feedback and schedule formal public hearings later in the spring.

In the meantime call and send an e-mail telling TriMet to keep Fareless Square!

Act Now! Tell TriMet that removing Fareless Square is not an option!

busartTriMet is once again considering taking away Fareless Square. TriMet along with the Portland Business Alliance are working on proposals that would range from dramatically overhauling Fareless Square geographically to charging $1 to ride downtown and to Lloyd Center.

The police, business alliance and TriMet have alluded to Fareless Square creating an atmosphere of lawlessness. They also point to the loss of revenue for TriMet, an estimated $800,000. We think the proposed changes are about greed and intolerance.

The proposed changes strike at the heart of what makes Portland unique. Portland’s downtown is not a lawless urban environment regardless of how many lobbyists the Portland Business Alliance hires to say so. And we think the loss of revenue that small and large businesses will incur with no Fareless Square will far outweigh the $800,000 in revenue for TriMet.

The Fareless Square system is a model that brings people together. Regardless of your class or culture, together we are able to move around the city’s core in a way that promotes and celebrates what we have in common, not our differences. Fareless Square must stay.

What you can do: Call (503.962.4910) or email (pr@trimet.org) TriMet Public Relations office and tell them you want to Fareless Square to remain the same – free and welcoming for all.