TriMet announced its latest budget problem last week—a $27 million shortfall.

Among its proposed solutions that would start Sept. 1 is a 5-cent fare increase, and reduced frequency for MAX lines and many bus lines. (For a complete list, go to .) On top of that, four bus lines could be eliminated, a real blow to many of their regular riders. Here's why:

What It Does:

Weekday service between West Linn's Willamette neighborhood and Oregon City, along Willamette Falls Drive. The five-mile-plus route is shaped like a rope with lassos on both ends.

Regular Rider: Chris Kovacs, a 29-year-old kitchen worker at the West Linn Golf Club. IMAGE: Ari Phillips

Reason For Riding: To get to work.

What Happens If the Line Stops: Kovacs says he'll probably have to find another job. Although he usually gets a ride home after work and knows his bus in the morning is never very crowded, he does need that morning service. "I had a feeling this bus might be one of the ones to get cut when I heard about the $27 million in cuts," he says. "TriMet needs to spend their money better. When I heard about the MAX coming down here I was excited. But then it ends in Clackamas and goes to the Gateway Transit Center. Well, that's not very useful."

What It Does:

Weekday rush-hour service between Clackamas Town Center and Happy Valley. One of the route's drivers calls it "Unhappy Valley" because of the foreclosed homes it passes in a mix of exurban and suburban housing along country-style two-lane roads.

Regular Rider: Laurie Stockberger, a 30-year-old homemaker. IMAGE: Ari Phillips

Reason For Riding: Shopping and running errands.

What Happens If the Line Stops: No big deal for her. She'll take the 155 or 156—lines that run near her house in Sunnyside to Clackamas Town Center. But she says not everybody is so fortunate."It would impact others more," she says, "especially those living in Happy Valley." One of those is an older man who wouldn't give his name but said he was going to Safeway for groceries. He said he'd probably break down and buy a car since there's no other bus and the closest grocery store is three miles away.

What It Does:

Running only during weekday rush hours, the 25-minute route serves primarily as a one-way shuttle service bringing Oregon Health & Science University employees and students up the hill in the morning and back down in the late afternoon. Since parking at OHSU is notoriously expensive and scarce, many university staffers and students take public transportation at least to get up the hill.

Regular Rider: Harlene Finn, a 61-year-old administrative assistant. IMAGE: Leslie Montgomery

Reason For Riding: To get to work.

What Happens If the Line Stops: She has no other mode of transportation from her home in Southwest Portland, so she will either take an earlier bus or be really late to work. A self-proclaimed cynic, Finn wonders whether complaining to TriMet at a public hearing (see below for meeting schedules) would make any difference. She wants to ask TriMet directly, "Have you ever made a change because of feedback?"

What It Does:

Running only twice in the morning and three times in the afternoon and evening, it carries a handful of passengers on a 20-minute loop between the Gateway and Rockwood transit centers. "It's like school," one rider joked. "You have to bring a note with an excuse if you don't show up."

Regular Rider: Gloria Juden, a 42-year-old who works with 3-year-olds at Happy Day Christian Child Care. IMAGE: Leslie Montgomery

Reason For Riding: The line has a stop a half-block from her home in Rockwood, and goes closest to work, Fred Meyer and Target.

What Happens If the Line Stops: Juden, recovering from a back injury suffered when she tried to catch someone who was falling, worries about the line's closure because she'd have to walk six more blocks to the stop at Southeast Division Street. She says drivers now will sometimes even drop her off at her house. "I just ask for a courtesy stop," she says.

Editor’s NOTE:

TriMet has scheduled four public meetings—all from 4:30 to 6:30 pm—on its budget-cutting proposals. The meetings are

Feb. 23

in Room C of the Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave.;

Feb. 24

in Rooms 1 and 2 of the Pioneer Community Center, 615 5th St., Oregon City;

March 3

in the Beaverton Community Center, 12350 SW 5th St.; and

March 4

in Gresham City Hall, 1333 NW Eastman Parkway. Comments also can be submitted by 5 pm April 23 online at , by phone at 962-5806, by fax at962-6469, or by mail to TriMet-MK2, 4012 SE 17th Ave., Portland, OR 97202.