Portland Mayor Sam Adams is defending his proposal to increase the fees the city charges TriMet. The city charges the agency for transit shelters and benches on city property.
Speaking on OPB's Think Out Loud Tuesday, Adams says he felt the city was involved in quote "bad faith negotiations" with TriMet.
He explained, "I said that I would support the ending of fareless rail, if, with the nearly $3 million dollars they would pick up with new revenues as a result of that decision, they kept the youth pass going for high school students in Portland Public Schools."
But in TriMet's most recent budget, the program was eliminated. Adams says his plan to charge the agency nearly $2 million was meant to get the transit agency's attention.
"I can't just sit by and continue to think that bad faith negotiations, you know, aren't going to be called out," he said.
Adams has called the free pass program essential to the city's school reform effort.
TriMet leaders sent a letter to city commissioners saying budget cuts have already led to service cuts and rate hikes – and a fee increase would mean more of that.
TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch says the youth pass used to be funded by the state. “Having TriMet fully fund this program – it’s not our program and we’re not in a financial situation to do that. Clearly, we’ve stated that for months.”
Mayor Adams says the fee hike on this week’s city council agenda is meant to get TriMet’s attention. Fetsch says her agency is willing to discuss the problem with the city.