Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

TriMet (Portland): CHALLENGES & CHOICES A Budget Discussion Guide

TriMet (Portland) Balancing the Budget exercise
Screen captures from the TriMet Challenges and Choices website.

Related to yesterday's entry on WMATA's proposed fare increases for transit in the DC region, and specifically the recommendations for subway fares, I came across an online budget exercise that TriMet of Portland has posted, to get public input into the budget process.

The Portland transit system relies in part on a transit payroll withholding tax, and with the recession, those revenues have dropped, impacting their budget.
TriMet budget game

I mention this exercise because it has four parts:

- Why is there a budget shortfall?
- What are the options?
- What are other agencies doing?
- Tell us what you think? (about the options presented, and other suggestions as submitted by the public)

and because it raises the issue of revenues other than fares.

The Portland TriMet exercise is still very much "transit operator" focused rather than "regional transportation planning" focused, but it's an illustration of the kind of exercises that I think ought to occur as part of a new regional discussion about the role of transit in the region's civic, social, and economic life, and its impact on the built environment and quality of life.

It would be better to make decisions on how to fund regional transit in that context, rather than on an annual crisis basis focused on the next year's budget.

This also gets to a point that Governor Jerry Brown made in the context of California's budget shortfall (this year over $9 billion, last year over $26 billion):

“Here's the dilemma: People don't want cuts in education and health care and policing, but they don't want to pay taxes, either.

“So the challenge for today's politics is to clarify the choices.”

From "Offering a clear choice on taxes" in the Santa Rose Press-Democrat.
TriMet (Portland) Balancing the Budget exercise

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