Friday, February 13, 2009


Initial budget cut of 5 percent may not involve frontline employee layoffs. Feedback from employees will be important as we refine proposed service cuts.

2/13/09 What service reductions mean to Operations

Stephen R. Banta, Executive Director Operations

Earlier this week General Manager Fred Hansen announced that due to the economic recession, TriMet is making a 5 percent budget cut across the board for fiscal year 2010. This includes a reduction in service. Today, a detailed list of proposed service cuts was put on TriNET for employees to review and comment on. Please take a moment to look at it and send your feedback to

An important question that is being asked by many employees is, "What does this mean for my job?" I want to assure you that we are doing everything possible to reach our new budget targets without laying off frontline employees. There are numerous variables at play that will impact our ability to achieve that goal, including the federal stimulus package, revenues from the payroll tax vs. projections, and natural employee attrition rates.

The proposed service reductions add up to approximately 70 fewer operator positions. That sounds alarming, but there are some important offsets that should help to ease your mind. We have stopped hiring classes of new operators. We will be hiring additional rail operators and controllers for Green Line, as well as additional rail and bus supervisors--all from the existing operator ranks. When you then figure in operator retirements, even if less retire than projected, we may be able to weather the 5 percent cut in service without laying off operators.

We are looking through every part of the Operations budget to make cuts strategically, including materials and services, allocations of overtime, and our management structure. Over the years, many efficiencies were gained through PIP such that there aren't many areas in our division where we are "fat." For example, in Bus Maintenance there are 33 fewer employees today than in 2001. This is extraordinary, given that they have successfully maintained and dramatically raised the reliability of a fleet of aging buses. Because the proposed reduction does not substantively change the number of vehicles we will be running, I cannot cut any more frontline positions from Bus or Rail Maintenance. Similarly, our need to keep up the state of good repair and cleanliness of our facilities, bus stops and rail platforms does not change, so I will not be cutting Facilities Maintenance frontline positions.

I want to emphasize that the work each and every one of you do is critically important to successfully delivering service to our customers. Please, take some time to look at the proposal and let us know what you think. Your input is important, and your comments will be read and taken seriously.

Thank you in advance for your support.

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