Trimet Sneaks $11M for Police Into Budget

transit-jail-sqMassive expansion of police presence with no public discussion

OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon and Bus Riders Unite are shocked and appalled at the announcement of an increase of $11M for police in the Trimet budget. There is no need for this expansion of the prison industrial complex. Bus riders need more accessible, affordable transportation, not more racist policing on our buses! Trimet is trying to sneak this past with little public scrutiny. Low income people and people of color are already profiled at a higher rate on public transit. Trimet’s Board is not adequately addressing rider concerns.

At the February 22nd meeting of the Trimet Board of Directors, it was revealed that the agency is prepared to spend more than $11M on a new police station and expanded fare enforcement in the next budget year. The announcement is a direct assault on low income people and people of color who depend on public transportation. Riders are angry and demand answers to the following questions:

Why does Trimet claim increased policing and fare enforcement is a priority?

Fare evasion is a victimless crime, one that riders almost always commit out of desperation or unknowingness. When we need to get home, to a doctor, or to the store, sometimes $2.50 is out of reach. Sometimes our fares expire before we arrive at our destinations. During a time of increased attacks on low-income people and people of color across the country, Trimet is creating a fear mindset and expanding the prison-industrial complex in our own backyard.

Can any of the $11M being spent on increased policing be diverted to expanding transit operations?

Trimet has a responsibility to address the current lack of service in East Portland and other areas of their service area. Increased service and frequency could reduce the number of riders who experience fare enforcement without costing low-income people a trip to the courthouse or a potentially devastating encounter with law enforcement. The new line proposed for East 162nd Avenue, for example, is not adequately serviced to meet the needs of East Portland residents.

Why is criminalization of transit a higher priority than reducing fares?

For the same price as this unnecessary police station and fare enforcement expansion, Trimet could implement BRU’s Low Income Fare Equity plan, making buses and trains more accessible and making police confrontations with riders less likely. Recent studies have shown clear bias in fare enforcement, particularly against Black people.

Trimet’s plan to spend $11M of public funds is unacceptable

We will not allow it to happen on our watch! Riders evade fare when we can’t afford it, or because our transfers expire before we arrive, not because we are criminals. This militaristic solution puts lives and families in danger and we adamantly oppose it.

Trimet still does not have a clear policy on information-sharing with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Law enforcement operates on buses and trains anywhere that fare inspections take place. This transit system is failing our immigrant communities. It is failing people of color systematically. We must not allow this to continue.

We want anyone who is alarmed at this news to get involved with Bus Riders Unite. Demand Trimet expand services and reduce fares for low income riders, instead of paying for an expanded police presence on the buses and trains our families depend upon!

Get involved today at opalpdx.org/volunteer

Posted in Against Militarization, Bus Riders Unite, Just Transitions, Policy Advocacy, Transit Justice.