PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Ana Valderrama is among the many who rely on TriMet as their only transportation. “Children, families, people with disabilities depend on it as their only transportation,” she said.
She joined a rally on Friday organized by Opal and Bus Riders Unite urging TriMet to put a low-income fare into place — $1.25 compared to $2.50. Valderrama said it may not sound like much, but “that’s another grocery trip a month over a month. It definitely helps us.”
Nic Phillips with Bus Riders Unite said a lot of people are already struggling to pay for bus fare. “This is going to work, this is going to church, this is getting your kids to schools, this is going to your child’s recital,” she said, “and all of those things are at risk” with a higher fare.
More than 25% of riders would benefit from a lower fare, she said.
The group is also opposed to the TriMet’s Hop FastPass set to begin in 2017. As they see it, it’s a move to end cash.
Bus Riders Unite said TriMet’s Hop FastPass — scheduled to begin in 2017 — would hurt the most vulnerable in the community. Their concerns range from a lack of retail outlets, the lack of a multi-rider car or family pass and the “added expense of buying Hop FastPass on low income riders.”
On their website, TriMet describes Hop FastPass as “not just a smartcard — it’s the next generation of transit fares.” It’s touted to be “easy account management, fast and hassle-free, contactless, lost card protection, fair and convenient.”
Hop FastPass is planned to be available in more than 500 retail stores and in the TriMet ticket office in downtown Portland
The balance in a user’s account would roll over and “works like a pay-as-you-go monthly pass.”
But Bus Riders Unite said both San Francisco and Seattle have low-income fares and they want TriMet to follow that model.
TriMet made “plans for e-fare without talking to the community first,” Phillips said.
“You’ve got certain neighborhoods where people really are going to have to walk a long way just to buy fare before they get on the bus,” she told KOIN 6 News. “We’re not trying to sink the ship. We want the system to work for everyone who uses it.”
KOIN 6 News tried but was not able to get comment from TriMet officials on this matter.