Friday, May 14, 2010



On Saturday, May 15 at 12 noon, Transit Riders Union is sponsoring a Community Forum on TriMet: Unsafe At Any Speed? The open forum is at Chit Chat Cafe at Portland State, 1906 SW Sixth, 12 noon this Saturday.
On Saturday, May 15, 12 noon, Transit Riders Union is holding a Community Forum on "TriMet: Unsafe At Any Speed?" Free. Chit Chat Cafe, Portland State, 1906 SW Sixth, on 12, 19, 44 buses and Green MAX line.

This facilitated Open Forum will look at the recent, tragic killings of two young women pedestrians by TriMet bus #9 in downtown Portland. Oregonian's six big articles by new transit reporter Joseph Rose have focused on the 'blind spot' that TriMet bus drivers have -- but seems to leave out that five people were run over by the #9 bus. A fairly large 'blind spot.'

The Open Forum will also look at past injuries to pedestrians and TriMet riders in terms of safety, and related TriMet mismanagement issues, including:

--the recent protest by elected Metro officials Robert Liberty and David Bragdon against the closed, non-public access hiring of TriMet light rail manager Neil McFarlane to replace longtime TriMet Gen. Mgr. 'Teflon Fred' Hansen. (Has TriMet ever had an African American or woman GM?)

--TriMet cutting, in 2009, the 15-year, $500,000/year Rider Advocate Program with NE Coalition of Neighborhoods (TriMet says it is doing great on crime cause it has doubled the number of fare inspectors and transit cops -- both!)

--fighting the proposed third round of 60 bus service cuts and MAX frequency cuts, and the proposed five cents a ride fare increase (overshadowed by the corporate media's extensive reporting about the deaths of the pedestrians/defense of TriMet?)

--the unelected TriMet board of directors being a puppet board. In previous service cuts votes, only Lynn Lehrbach (Teamsters) has been voting with transit riders -- as when 1,400 of us petitioned to save Fareless Square, but the unelected puppet TriMet board (appointed by Oregon's governor) implemented the 'austerity' gutting of Fareless Square, regardless.

--a new board member, Rev. Dr. Allen Bethel, is president of Albina Ministerial Alliance, and as a police accountability activist, may be a 2nd vote for transit riders on the appointed board -- but it takes 4 votes to stop the cuts.

--TriMet has a $2.5 billion budget, including capital projects. Liberal, think tank research types will argue that Congress should pass the Wyden-Brown bill in the senate (in the future, sometime) to free up more highway dollars and more light rail dollars for bus service in the U.S. -- ie, operations. However, in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, transit activists have forced (through federal court injunctions) in three cases, local transit agencies to fund buses (500 buses were bought in LA as a result, plus a five year freeze on light rail in LA) -- not just use the 'capital funds take all the money' argument, etc. TriMet says it now has a $27,000,000 budget shortfall, but the proposed fare increase will only raise $1.5 million -- hence the 'austerity' cutbacks, as in Greece.

--transit activists want to work on having the TriMet board elected, as well as stopping the 'austerity' cuts. An initiative petition to have the board elected, or, as Robert Liberty told us in two meetings, having Metro 'take over' TriMet (and Metro IS elected) are two options. Metro already has an ORS statute to take over TriMet, if it chooses (and Liberty's fellow 1,000 Friends and OSPIRG former cohort, Bob Stacey -- is far more likely to support 'democratizing' TriMet than the pro-CRC couple of Tom Hughes and Rex Burkholder .. 'the others' in Stacey's great ads on TV -- in contrast to the pro-CRC ads of Burkholder which feature (mostly) white folks dancing in a park with balloons saying how cool Burkholder is, etc.).

--the current, 13-year TriMet board president, George Passadore, is former regional president of Wells Fargo Bank. When 5 TRU organizers met with outgoing Ops Mgr at TriMet, Steve Banta, Banta noted that none of the TriMet board members had ever worked with staff to come up with alternate funding sources. Passadore, meanwhile, says he doesn't have business cards or email, but does have a seven car 'classic car' collection at this estate (per the Tribune article profile of Passadore) next to his 'party room.' Wells Fargo, in the first six months of 2009, made $6 billion in profits.


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phone: phone: 503-222-2974
address: address: PO Box 40011, Portland, Oregon 97240

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