What is the Campaign for a Fair Transfer?
OPAL’s Campaign for a Fair Transfer is a transit justice campaign to restore value to our transit system in the face of tragic service cuts and continued fare increases. This is a win-win campaign for the community and TriMet that will have minimal fiscal impact. The two components are:
- Extend transfers to three (3) or more hours on the bus and MAX for all daily boardings
- Extend transfers through the end of evening service for boardings after 7:00 PM
Why is TriMet’s Transfer Policy Unfair? The policy is not equal.
TriMet code currently provides for unequal transfer times for bus and MAX riders – bus riders get just one hour past the “destination point” (either downtown transit mall or end-of-line transit center), while MAX riders get two hours from purchase. The policy is confusing, and allows bus operators to arbitrarily give anywhere from a 1.5 hour transfer to a 4 hour transfer and is open to complaints of discrimination. The Campaign for a Fair Transfer makes this policy equal.
Who is impacted? Low-income families and communities of color.
The unequal transfer policy combined with 170,000 hours of bus service cuts and a 70% increase in fares since 2000 hurts working class families who are disproportionately people of color. Transit-dependent communities like East Portland experience more missed connections, buses that pass by due to overcrowding, and longer more stressful wait times.
How much will it cost? 3 hour transfer cost is as little as $200,000.
TriMet’s preliminary analysis of the 3 hour transfer suggests that lost revenue from riders is between $1-$2 million dollars with new revenue projected between $500,000 to $800,000 from increased ridership. In the context of a nearly $300 million budget for transit service, this is less than ½ of 1%. There are bigger benefits and savings to consider. TriMet has not yet factored in the significant public health savings, including increased physical activity, alleviated mental stress, and associated decreases in asthma triggers, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The Campaign for a Fair Transfer has net benefits when conducting a comprehensive analysis.
How does this address the massive service cuts and fare increases? Increases value.
TriMet has reduced transit service to its lowest levels per capita since 1975. This has resulted in longer wait times, more missed connections and pass-bys due to overcrowding. TriMet has also raised fares 70% over the past ten years, with no plans to slow down. Transit passes have become unaffordable for many working-class families who depend on transit for their everyday needs. With high unemployment and many more underemployed, transit riders are relying more heavily on single ticket fares. Bus riders are paying more for less, with evening/weekend riders hit even harder given infrequency of off-peak service. The Campaign for a Fair Transfer restores value to single fares.
Are there other benefits to increasing the transfer time? Yes!
Using public transportation supports cleaner air, reduces physical and mental stress, and increases environmental justice. Transportation is the single largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon, and emissions from transportation in the Portland metro region are a primary contributor to our air toxics crisis. DEQ studies show that these air toxics impact communities of color and low-income families the most, and yet these communities also rely on public transit the most, contributing the least to our air toxics problem. These communities also suffer the most from the unacknowledged physical and mental stress associated with diminishing value to our system. Investing in a more accessible public transit system will result in cleaner air and greater environmental justice and health equity. It is about basic fairness.
Does this permit round-trips? Equity for transit-dependent families.
The current transfer policy does not forbid round-trips or multi-stops. The one-way purpose is a TriMet administrative directive and not part of the TriMet code. We believe it is appropriate for transit-dependent families to be able to accomplish everyday basic needs – not just commuting – in a reasonable round trip. Folks should not have to pay twice just to do basic things, like go to the grocery store or doctor or take your children to the park. The Campaign for a Fair Transfer ensures equitable access for those that need it most.
How does TriMet compare to other public transit agencies? Room to improve.
While TriMet has many positive attributes that contribute to overall livability in the metro region, our current transfer policy is not on par with other progressive transit authorities around the country. For example, Minneapolis-St. Paul, a region similar to Portland in terms of values and quality of life, offers 2.5 hour transfers at a lower fare than TriMet. Many other transit agencies offer discounted off-peak pricing or subsidized weekend service. There is still significant room for improvement and TriMet must be open to best practices from other transit agencies.