Yes, you generally can't use capital funds for operational costs, and
BUT...TriMet took funds from reserves (which can be used for anything)
that were generally supposed to be used for bus capital costs, put
them to MAX (Red and Yellow Lines) as part of the local match. Thus
the reserves dipped below what they needed to be and ta da, we have
Further, TriMet sure has no shortage of money to spend on things like
property acquisition for transit oriented development (in which there
were several publicized cases where TriMet sold the property at less
than what they purchased it for - who paid the difference?), the
non-TriMet Portland Streetcar, maintaining a little known trolley
track in southwest Portland, and of course the $50 million shortfall
on WES. Where did that money come from - TriMet doesn't own a
Unfortunately, TriMet figures it's easiest to affect the bus riders.
You can't affect WES because there isn't much to cut. You can't
affect MAX because...well...I'm not quite sure. Apparently there is
some contract regarding the Streetcar (which I'd break in a second).
And God forbid Fred Hansen institute management pay cuts. So that
leaves the bus system.
You're right - cut a few buses here and there, no one will get riled
up enough. That's the problem and in Portland in general. There is a
very, very small minority of folks - I'd say about 20% of the
population - that is "involved". They're the ones that are at City
Hall and get riled up; they're the ones that are consistent voters,
you know who they are.
Then there's about 40% that just simply vote like lemmings. They
really don't care either way.
The final 40% is so disenchanted with things, that they give up. I
honestly think bus riders, along with residents of East Portland, much
of the middle class...they call in that 40%. They know that they
don't make a difference. Nobody cares about them because they do not
singly carry any impact. The middle class does not bankroll political
campaigns. They don't build massive developments. They don't eat at
spendy, trendy restaurants.
I would have been at the TriMet meeting yesterday at the Portland
Building if I didn't have other commitments with my family. It's the
only one I would have been reasonably able to attend. TriMet's Board
Meetings are simply impossible for me to attend (else you bet I'd be
there every month) - I have a job and I can't take time off of my job
to pester TriMet about its problems. And despite my calls for Fred
Hansen to ride my bus with me - he doesn't give a damn. He doesn't
have to. I can't recall him or the Board, and surely nobody is going
to hold the Governor accountable for TriMet.
What we do know is that TriMet is a political machine; it acts only
upon political motivation and not the will or the need of the people.
The saying "Of the people, by the people and for the people" just
does not apply at TriMet. Its service is politically motivated and
not people motivated. Its government is not "of the people", it's of
folks politically connected to the Governor. I guess it might be "of"
the people, since I'm pretty sure you have to have legal residency to
work for TriMet and they do hire a lot of people off the street
(Operators, namely)...but I'm sure that besides Operators and
maintenance that most of the positions require you to know someone.
It's just wrong.