In a recent letter to the editor (“Let Greater Portland riders take the bus for free,” June 12), the author claimed Metro’s buses don’t have enough riders and suggested fares should be eliminated to boost ridership.

The author’s claim that buses mostly run empty is false. Ridership on Metro’s transit system exceeded 2.1 million boardings in 2019, which was a level of use not seen since the 1980s. Metro’s post-pandemic ridership recovery is nearing 90% of the 2019 high. A series of service improvements coming this year and next, we predict, will lead to strong ridership gains.

Eliminating fares entirely would create a $2.4 million budget gap, requiring either service cuts or new taxpayer funding. Transportation research has consistently shown that service improvements build ridership better than eliminating fares. If we aim to ask taxpayers for any new funding, let’s instead provide shorter wait times between buses, quicker travel times to destinations, longer operating hours and more bus shelters.

Metro has been working to make transit more affordable for those who need it. We have transit pass programs in place with many organizations, including with the city of Portland, which provides free transit passes to immigrants covered by the city’s resettlement program. These programs widen access to transit, build ridership and ensure sustainable funding.

By growing the number of organization-funded transit pass programs, and increasing public (and private) funding for public transit, we can build a regional transit system that will transform our region for the better.

Greg Jordan
executive director, Greater Portland Metro

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: