CASE STUDY ON LOCAL FINANCING TECHNIQUES: PORTLAND, OREGON

In Portland, Oregon, available resources dictate the level of transit services that can be offered. In 1976 it was decided to build the light-rail system from downtown Portland to suburban Gresham, a decision that marked a strong shift from highways to transit as a transportation solution. This commitment to mass transit has been continued by the Metropolitan Services District (MSD), Portland's planning agency, which is responsible for development of the 20-year regional transportation plan. The regional transportation plan (TRP) is the basis for Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation's 5-year plan, the Transit Development Program (TDP), which had an extensive and detailed service plan but no financial plan. This lack had a significant impact, causing postponements and reductions of planned service. The first step of the plan, in September 1982, included the introduction of the self-service fare system, a grid system, and fare adjustment. Tri-Met's service grew steadily from 1970 through September 1982, when a grid system increased weekday service by nearly 10 percent. By 1983, rides per service-hour had dropped to their second lowest level ever. Service was cut by 2 percent in June 1983 and by 6 percent in January 1984. By June 1984, when plans were announced to cut service another 6 percent, consensus of the regional subdivisions had collasped. In June 1977 relatively accurate financial projections were made, except that the cost of providng planned service was not included. A financial forecasting model was finally put together in 1981. Another study found that more financing would be needed to provide the service demanded, but Tri-Met's Board concluded that it must live within existing resources. Its two major sources of revenue are farebox receipts and an employer-payroll tax. Annual increases in revenues from employer-payroll tax have varied widely, due mostly to employment fluctuations. Farebox receipts rose from 1969 until 1981, when they leveled and declined slightly. Self-service fare was introduced in September 1982; that system was used about 18 months but was dropped since costs were not being offset by operating savings. The passenger-revenue forecasting model, with imputs of some 200 variables, and now a useful tool for the 5-year plan. Operating losses have occurred the last 3 fiscal years; the depth and length of the recession were not appreciated.

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    • Distribution, posting, or copying of this PDF is strictly prohibited without written permission of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials in this PDF are copyrighted by the National Academy of Sciences. Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. This paper appeared in TRB Special Report 208, Proceedings of the Conference on Evaluating Alternative Local Transportation Financing Techniques. Conference was conducted by TRB and sponsored by FHWA and UMTA, November 28-30, 1984, Denver, Colorado.
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    Transportation Research Board

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  • Authors:
    • Mason, Jack
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  • Publication Date: 1985

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  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Pagination: pp 30-31
  • Monograph Title: PROCEEDINGS OF THE CONFERENCE ON EVALUATING ALTERNATIVE LOCAL TRANSPORTATION FINANCING TECHNIQUES
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    Open Access (libre)

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  • Accession Number: 00451150
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Nov 30 1985 12:00AM