Predicting TriMet’s Death Spiral

The Oregonian had a good page-one story on Sunday about the TriMet death spiral. The agency is steadily devolving from a transit district to a retirement and health-care center, with unsustainable fringe benefit costs that now far exceed the mere cost of wages.

However, this problem has been known for a long time. I wrote about it in a cover story for Brainstorm NW magazine in June 2003, and have testified about it to the legislature, the TriMet board, and various other bodies repeatedly since then. The history of this issue is a case where dozens of people had opportunities to do something about it over a 20-year period, but refused to do so. Most of them served on the TriMet board, and never raised a finger to reject the union contracts. The current board is making the same mistakes, agreeing to every goofy recommendation put forward by staff without showing a shred of independent thinking. Taxpayers and transit riders deserve so much better.

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