To: HB 2017 Transit Advisory Committee and TriMet Board Members
RE: $5 million Contested Funds to Youth, Seniors, and Individuals with Disabilities
In 2019, the Oregon State Transportation Investment package (HB 2017) will bring in an influx of approximately $49 million in new revenue for the TriMet service district covering Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. The HB 2017 Advisory Committee is currently reviewing proposals for how to spend $5million, which are currently unallocated. We, the undersigned, support the use of these funds to meet the priorities identified by transit dependent communities, youth, seniors and individuals with disabilities. We propose that these funds be allocated as follows: an additional $1.6 million towards Student Transportation and $3.4 million towards transit assistance for seniors and individuals with disabilities.
TriMet has recommended that this $5 million be used One alternative to our proposal is to use this funding to purchase electric buses. $5 million equates to approximately five to six electric buses per year. While we support electric buses because they have the potential to reduce pollution and more if done in an equitable way, this same amount of funding could have a greater impact if it were allocated to provide transportation access for 13,000 low-income youth as well as the expansion in operations of transportation services and mobility for the elderly and individuals with disabilities.
The funds from HB2017 can support operations. Funds for capital purchases, such as new buses, are often much easier for TriMet to obtain. This new funding presents a rare opportunity to invest in service expansion for transit dependent communities, youth, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. Expanding and strengthening access for students (YouthPass) will increase accessibility for more individuals to ride, and has the potential to cultivate the next generation of lifelong transit riders. Portland Public School District, which tends to have a higher population of white students from affluent backgrounds compared to the regional student population, currently offers YouthPass. The program expanded to Parkrose and David Douglas High Schools in East Portland for a single school year before the City cut funding the program. A YouthPass program funded through HB 2017 addresses these long-standing inequities and can reach youth across the TriMet service district.
The current Student Transportation allocation of $490,000, 1% of HB 2017 funds, is the bare minimum potential investment in youth transportation allowed under the law and is insufficient. In 2017, David Douglas School District alone received a one-time allocation of $306,797 from the City of Portland to cover only their high school students receiving free and reduced lunch. All high schools within the service district should have the potential to provide free transit access to students most in need. We request $1.6 million from the unallocated $5 million, in addition to the $490,000 minimum for Student Transportation. These funds can create a fare relief program housed within TriMet that builds on the YouthPass model currently available to Portland Public Schools High Schools, and certain students at David Douglas and Parkrose High Schools.
Ridership on the system has been declining rapidly in recent years. Between 2015 and 2017 TriMet lost approximately 3 million rides. $5 million for expanded transportation services to seniors, people with disabilities and youth will increase ridership, address racial disparities, and center equity in transportation decisions.
We the undersigned support prioritizing HB 2017 funding to support transit dependent communities: youth, seniors and individuals with disabilities. We request the committee to allocate an additional $1.6 M for youth and $3.4 million for transit service for individuals with disabilities and seniors.
OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon
Joy Alice Davis
The Portland African American Leadership Forum
Marcus C. Mundy
Coalition of Communities of Color
Nkenge Harmon Johnson
CEO and President
Urban League of Portland
Community Alliance of Tenants
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757
Portland Jobs with Justice
Pacific Northwest Senior Policy Manager
Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Community Cycling Center
Oregon Sierra Club
Oregon Student Association
Mary Kyle McCurdy
1000 Friends of Oregon
Michael Lopes Serrano
Parkrose School District
Climate Action Coalition