Monday, January 17, 2011
ON MLK SERVICE
On one hand, I do applaud TriMet for looking for cost savings in not running empty trips for no reason. For example, on December 31st, I was only one of two riders on my #94 bus from Sherwood into Portland, and the only rider on the bus out. It costs TriMet over $100 per hour to run a bus, and for that they earned only $4.70 one way, and $2.35 the other way.
On the other hand, TriMet still has an obligation to serve the public. I don't recall any printed schedules or notices on the buses to alert riders of the schedule changes (and not everyone has a cell phone or internet access). Many people do NOT get the day off, or still have to get around on Monday.
I can certainly see buses like the 61, 64, 65, 66 - buses that exclusively serve V.A. Medical Center and OHSU employees (many of whom will have the day off) not running; there is still the 8 bus to get you up on the hill if you still have to get up there (plus the tram which will be in operation). But many of the canceled trips are neighborhood routes with no nearby service. Why couldn't those routes simply be operated on a reduced schedule? Or at least come up with some creative solution like a "dial-and-ride" shuttle service using a LIFT bus to at least make sure that those who NEED transit still have access to it?
It's this attitude of "TriMet needs to act for its own convenience" that is really aggravating - TriMet works for the people, not the other way around. I appreciate the saving money (although TriMet does a good job wasting money elsewhere, so that's kind of an empty appreciation) but at the core of TriMet is serving the public. We pay a variety of taxes for TriMet to provide service - and we expect that service to be provided. If TriMet doesn't want to provide service, why does TriMet exist? Does Neil McFarlane get a pay cut because of the M.L.K. Day service cuts? Do riders get to pay a lower fare because of lower service?