Portland riders fight unfair bus fare

portlandtransitBus Riders Unite of Portland, Ore., is fighting for Low Income Fare Equity, demanding an equitable bus fare for low-income riders. On Aug. 31, workers gathered in front of TriMet’s administrative office. TriMet is the public agency responsible for mass transit in the Portland area.

The demonstrators presented a 32-page report detailing how TriMet can meet the LIFE demand. They delivered the report directly into the hands of the TriMet board of directors with chants of “Bus Riders Unite! Transit is a human right!”

Several speakers from BRU — people of color, people with disabilities, women — lined up to convey their mission and relate their struggles. They stressed that the bus fare is too high for low-income Portland households.

BRU is “a grassroots initiative that collectively organizes low-income people and people of color for public transit justice in the Portland metropolitan area.” It is a part of OPAL [Organizing People/Activating Leaders] Environmental Justice Oregon, whose mission is “building power for Environmental Justice and Civil Rights in our communities.”

The same day as the rally, OPAL echoed the voices of the demonstration in its website post, saying, “People who depend on TriMet are being priced out of the service area by rising housing costs, stagnant wages and record-high eviction rates. We must keep our region economically diverse and inclusive, or we risk making segregation worse.”

BRU’s militant, multinational activism has won several victories, including the right to testify at TriMet board meetings and implementation of a community-elected Transit Equity Advisory Committee.

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