TriMet’s Board Proposes 12% Fare Hike

If approved, it would be the Portland transit agency’s first major fare increase in more than a decade.

At a meeting Wednesday morning, TriMet’s board of directors advanced a proposal to increase the cost of riding the bus to $2.80, a 30-cent increase over the current fare.

The board will vote on the final proposal in May of next year. It approved, it will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

A majority of the seven-member board voiced support for the proposal, according to an agency press release. Board members hoped the increase would “provide financial stability” and address increased costs of running the system due to inflation, the release said.

Fare increases were the topic of discussion at a four-hour “strategy session” last month. At the time, the board was sharply divided, with some directors expressing dismay that the agency was not looking for other ways to address its urgent need for additional revenues that do not impact riders.

The agency is under financial pressure due to plummeting ridership in recent years, a problem exacerbated by the pandemic. Ridership is now down around 40% from its peak.

Stimulus funding saved the agency from cutting service, but now it is looking for a more permanent solution.

According to a presentation given at today’s board retreat, the fare increase would result in “a small short-term dip in ridership,” but bring in around $6 million in additional revenues. It pushes out an imposing budget deficit an additional three years to fiscal year 2033.

Staff proposed various fare hikes, from 20 cents to 40 cents. The board ultimately chose the middle option.