- Transit riders should make decisions about how the transit system functions. Riders’ ideas should be incorporated into all conversations that will impact their daily lives.
- We follow the leadership of low-income people, people of color, youth, seniors, and disabled people. These are people who depend upon transit as a lifeline.
Problem: Transit ridership is declining, at a time when the benefits of public transit are critically needed. Transit is a climate solution that improves congestion, student success, and air quality. But not if we don’t use it. As the largest transit agency in our state, TriMet lacks the vision and ideas to increase ridership in our region. Their solution to declining ridership is to increase fares, which will only decrease ridership even further. We can do better, by listening to bus riders about what they want and need.
Riders Demand No Fare Hikes, and Expanded Fareless Transit Services!
- No Fare Hikes! Transit is a lifeline for our communities. Fareless Transit is Possible!
- Start with YouthPass! Raise the youth age to 18! Youth outside PPS are unfairly excluded!
- Bus-Only Lanes! We need to keep buses moving with dedicated bus lanes, bus signal priority & more.
- Expand Service to Our Communities! More hours, frequency, weekend service, and bus lines.
- Make Uber Pay! Rideshare companies contribute to congestion and should fund our solutions.
- No Transit Police! Unarmed, Union Rider Advocates enhance safety without targeting people of color.
- Prioritize Ridership Increases and Service Improvements OVER Technology Upgrades!
- Youth, seniors, people with disabilities, single moms of multiple children, and everyone else should face no barriers to ride the bus. Fareless transit is possible! We need decision-makers who share our values, understand our intersecting problems, and support rider-led solutions.
Where To B(RU)
It's a busy autumn for Bus Riders Unite! Launched in June, the #UpWithRiders campaign continues to pick up momentum. #UpWithRiders is a joint campaign of OPAL, Bus Riders Unite, and the Youth Environmental Justice Alliance to stop fare hikes and win truly public transportation free of fares, congestion, and racial profiling. This fall is the perfect time to get involved. We invite you to join us as we build power for our communities to stop bad policies like fare hikes and win a future we control!
Bus Rider Organizing
Multiple days each week, we board the buses to talk to fellow riders about #UpWithRiders and build power for transportation justice. We listen to riders’ stories, relate our campaigns and victories, and encourage them to get involved. Every transit-dependent person has a story to tell. Joining us for bus organizing helps turn those individual stories into collective advocacy and community resilience. Bus riders are always welcome at OPAL.
Dates: November 2nd, December 7th.
Times: vary. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (503) 427-8291.
Check for the most up-to-date information and RSVP on the First Saturday Facebook event
Bus Riders Unite! General Membership Meetings
Transit riders come together to strategize, build stronger relationships, and advocate for the needs of our people. We provide a meal, plus support childcare and translation, in a fun, friendly, and powerful atmosphere. Meeting locations vary across the city, and usually take place 6:00pm - 8:00pm on fourth Thursdays of the month. Get details at opalpdx.org/calendar. Contact Gaby at email@example.com or call (503) 427-8291
RSVP on our Facebook event page for the next meeting, October 24th
TriMet Seeks Fare Hikes, Not Service Enhancement
Members and Organizers with Bus Riders Unite were at the TriMet Board Meeting on the morning of September 18th to testify in support of the #UpWithRiders campaign. Together, we will stop fare hikes and win safe and accessible public transit that is free of fares, congestion, and racial profiling!
Two major revelations came from the public comment portion of the meeting, revealing a lack of vision and oversight at TriMet.
- The once-secret Bottomly Memo was discussed. TriMet’s Bernie Bottomly privately sent a memo to the Metro T2020 Task Force, and the memo was leaked to BRU. The Bottomly Memo states that TriMet’s objects to service enhancement dollars coming from the 2020 Metro funding package. This, despite ongoing community outcry for enhanced transit service to fill gaps, reach all schools and underserved neighborhoods in the region, and the clear need to reverse declining ridership.
- Board Chair Bruce Warner revealed a lack of Board oversight on the future plans of the agency. BRU Organizer Gabriela Saldana Lopez spoke in her testimony about TriMet's planned fare hike. Warner replied incredulously, “is anybody talking about a fare increase?” Given the direct question from the Board which supervises him, Doug Kelsey, TriMet’s General Manager was forced to respond truthfully, “A fare increase has been outlined in our financial projections.” (see the second video below to watch the exchange, at 2:33)
BRU testimony began with Jose Mikolauskas, a new OPAL Organizing Fellow whose life experience on transit informs his advocacy. “When I was a small child, I remember walking countless hours with my mom to reach our destinations,” Jose said. He related a story of being stranded after a festival to which his mother brought her children. “The bus never came. That night, we walked home for hours and hours, over the span of miles. Young me started complaining about the blisters developing on my feet a few miles in our walk.”
Jose offered the solution that BRU’s Up With Riders campaign demands. “Improved service such as extended hours, could’ve helped prevent us from being in this situation.”
BRU Member Doug Allen, a retiree who once worked at TriMet to collect and analyze ridership data, spoke of the need for TriMet to support additional bus service hours, and “dismay over the [Bottomly] memo that TriMet sent to the task force last month.” The Bottomly Memo outlines plans to increase service 2% per year, which Allen called “shockingly inadequate,” and goes on to say investing further in operations is not a priority. “This approach will not reverse declining ridership, nor will it address our communities, or our planet’s, needs.” As the regional population continues to grow, flat or declining public transit ridership means our system is falling behind.
Gaby Sandana Lopez spoke against the fare hikes bus riders discovered while analyzing the TriMet budget. “Some at TriMet foresee a future where ridership declines and fares go up. Bus Riders Unite sees just the opposite. We want fares to go down. When buses are prioritized, and our communities are no longer targeted, we will choose to ride the bus with more frequency.”
Final testimony from BRU came from TEAC Representative and OPAL Board Member Tristan Issac. Tristan spoke about the Bottomly Memo, and asked the Board, “what about the priorities of the Transit Equity Advisory Committee (TEAC), the Committee on Accessible Transit (CAT), and others? Why were they not consulted?” TEAC and CAT are each responsible for engaging and soliciting feedback from diverse stakeholders in our community, many of whom would support public transit service expansion if only TriMet would ask. “This is not what accountability from a public agency looks like,” Tristan concluded.
#UpWithRiders is a broad vision that encompasses fareless transit within the Portland metro area, ending racial profiling and transit policing, and improving services and access. However, winning our campaign demands requires getting to the smaller foundations that support the wider arc. We intend to push hard to stop fare increases within the next four months, since TriMet releases their new budget in January. When talking to people directly on the buses during First Saturday Bus Organizing, people seemed to expect fare increases, which means we have more work to do in explaining to the public why this is unnecessary and a step in the wrong direction. When riders understand that fare increases cause decreased ridership, leading to a “downward spiral,” fare increases no longer make sense.
Time is of the essence to expand transit services, and most importantly to stop the fare hikes TriMet now admits they’re forecasting! Get involved.