Campaigns and Policy

 

Since 2006, OPAL has been fighting to create safe and healthy places for our communities to live, work, and play through Campaigns, Policy Wins, Endorsements, Coalition Work, and Committee Assignments.

 

 

Go Fareless! Campaign:

One of our top challenges to public transit is affordability. We often hear the frustration of paying for TriMet twice - through TriMet Transit Payroll Taxes and again through high transit fares. At a recent TriMet board meeting, a fellow Portland rider shared that TriMet’s fares are the 5th most expensive in the world!

Transit fares make up the smallest percentage of TriMet’s total revenue. TriMet could invest in increasing ridership by creating a truly free transit system. Instead, they are squeezing those who are most reliant on transit and have no option but to use public transit at a much higher rate.

free transit system would also decrease unnecessary fare checks and harassment from police that unfairly target Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who ride and are often dependent on public transit. According to a 2017 story in the “Unequal Justice” series published by the Portland Tribune, minorities are penalized over fare enforcement at a disproportionate rate.

OPAL believes that training people on de-escalation is key to preventing violence. We have authored a report about safety in transit called Alternatives to Policing on Transit: Centering Community Models of Care in the Portland Area. We would love to see TriMet invest in a similar program to the Rider Ambassador program currently in place on the Portland Streetcar - where incidents of violent crime are not an issue like they are on TriMet buses and trains. TriMet's Safety Response Team is a good first step but there are not nearly enough people for their system and more investment in this program may have better results.


Free and frequent transit is the future! Other similar-sized cities in the U.S. have gone fareless including the largest U.S. city with zero fares - Albuquerque, New Mexico as well as Kansas City, Missouri with astounding success. We know how the Portland community feels about fareless transit after hundreds of testimonies called for free transit at the TriMet Board Meetings leading up to the most recent fare hike vote on May 24, 2023.

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