TriMet to start low-income fare discount program

Money from new transportation bill expected to fund it

One of TriMet's on-board ticket machines. (KOIN, file)
One of TriMet's on-board ticket machines. (KOIN, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — TriMet will start a low-income fare discount program with a portion of the additional revenue it expects to receive from the new transportation funding measure approved by the 2017 Oregon Legislature.

The measure includes a statewide .01 percent payroll tax that will raise an estimated $1 billion a year for transit improvements, excluding light rail projects. TriMet expects to receive up to $40 million a year in additional revenue from the tax. The regional transit agency is planning on spending up to $12 million a year of that revenue to reduce fare for low-income bus and train riders.

The Portland Tribune is a media partner with KOIN 6 News

As currently planned, the discount program will reduce fare by 50% for anyone earning 200% or less of the federal poverty level. The discount program has long been a top priority of OPAL Environmental Justice, a low-income advocacy organization with a TriMet rider program.

TriMet has not yet said exactly how the rest of the additional revenue will be spent.

The transportation measure was approved by the Oregon House on Wednesday and the State Senate on Thursday. It now goes to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who approves it.

The measure is expected to raise $5.3 billion a year from a variety of sources when it is fully phased in. The sources include higher gas taxes, higher motor vehicle fees and a $15 tax on adult bikes that cost $200 or more.