My view: Cutting bus routes affects people's lives
(The following is an open letter to TriMet regarding it upcoming service reduction.) I'm writing to you today in response to the temporary reduced service notice and how it will affect mine, and others commutes during the early morning hours. Essentially, it's clear that the consideration of the routes affected was poorly thought out.
I ride Route 54 to get downtown to make the first of two connections to get to work by 7 a.m. I catch my bus at around 5:04 a.m. This is one of the specific routes which have been eliminated. The earliest I will be able to get to work is 7:30 a.m. via Route 56. I am possibly up for promotion, but should the Route 54 line not be reinstated immediately, I could lose that, which would cost me possibly $15,000 a year (or more depending on those negotiations).
Aside, if I simply work my job and my company does not allow me to work a half hour later to make up for your decision to force me to be a half hour late every day, your decision to eliminate this route will personally cost me over $400 a month. That is not an exaggeration; it is pure fact.
As I ride the aforementioned Line 54 every day, I see many familiar faces. Alas, I've not gotten to know them. However, there are several. I had to omit some for this letter to fit within this format.
Going home, I refer to one particular schedule, Line 8 (local and extended). As I wait at Fifth and Morrison for my Line 1 (it's a better walk from the end stop than from the 54/56), I see Line 8 go past two or three times headed to Marquam Hill, every eight minutes. Not once in five months have I seen more than two people on those buses. Often, the are empty. You could easily eliminate two of those three runs and keep lines like mine, the early morning 54 in tact. The fact that you did not do that is absolute gross mismanagement. I'm sure there are other scenarios of lines that can be reduced as well.
When you reduce frequency, the last thing you should be cutting out is early morning routes and late evening routes. People rely on those and you just don't seem to understand that. There are several routes during the day and early evening which should be reduced rather than this.
Additionally, when you say this is "temporary," I have major doubt. I'll bring up one example. Line 45 had a weekday route before the COVID cutback, which left the Tigard Transit Center at around 7:53 p.m. You eliminated that, yet never restored it when you went back to "full" service. TriMet has a long history of turning the definition of "temporary" into "permanent." Therefore, I do not believe for a second this "temporary reduction" won't turn out to be a permanent one.
Look, I know this is about a lack of drivers. I get it. A signing bonus is great, but what measures have you taken to recruit? Recruiting is huge. Absolutely an effective way of gaining talented personnel and, obviously in this case, drivers. However, in the meantime, you need to reconstruct your "temporary revised" schedules.
I demand that you restore Line 54's first run of the weekday. People's livelihoods depend upon it.
Christopher Curran is a resident of Southwest Portland.
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