The Mental Health Association of Portland is the state’s impartial and independent advocate for persons with mental illness and addictions. We seek to end discrimination in Oregon.
Raising Honored Citizen fares by 25% will cause inestimable harm to those who have no choice but to use TriMet.
Many of our volunteers, supporters and friends are people with psychiatric disabilities – statistically, the poorest of the poor. Owning a car is beyond their financial reach, and they rely on affordable public transit for grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, errands and everywhere, anywhere they need to go.
Living at or below the poverty line means no quarters to spare; it means the difference between $1 and $1.25 is huge. The fare hike will force impossible questions, like “A can of pork and beans or an AA meeting?” or “See my therapist today, or next month?” TriMet’s website says, “It’s never easy to raise fares,” but we sincerely doubt it’s anywhere near as hard as the fare hike will be on our friends.
TriMet has given various reasons for the fare increase, from irrelevancies like a return to “historic” levels, to me-too grabbiness like “Adult fares have gone up, but Honored Citizens’ have not.” None of the reasons are compelling. The strongest would be the appeal to 9 CFR § 609.23 – except that the FTA does not say reduced fares should be one-half the Adult fare, it says they “will not exceed one-half” the full fare. Thus, $1 conforms to the FTA guidance just as much as $1.25 does.
What is a quarter worth? To TriMet, it will mean small change, totalling about one-tenth of one percent of the 2016 operating budget. To disabled Portlanders, it will mean life change – fewer choices, no alternatives, and too often, a world inside four walls.
We urge you in the strongest possible terms to restore the $1 Honored Citizens fare.
Board members of the
Mental Health Association of Portland
PO Box 3641 Portland, Oregon 97208