After less than three years at the helm, TriMet’s top boss, General Manager (GM) Doug Kelsey, announced their retirement in December 2020. This leadership change provides an opportunity for the community to be involved in this essential hiring decision that will have impacts across the greater Portland region for years to come. The $1.5 billion transit agency serves 2.5 million people in the greater Portland area.
At the urging of the public, TriMet has embarked upon a public hiring process with opportunities for participation from community leaders — so let’s get involved!
How to get involved?
- Take a 5-minute survey to give input on the GM job description
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- Attend one of four online listening sessions the week of March 8
(we’ll update with meeting links when they are posted)
[Links below are to join by the WebEx platform; you may need to download software first]
What’s important for the next GM to know and prioritize?
We encourage you to pull from these talking points that most speak to them and share your thoughts with TriMet.
- Community Engagement: TriMet’s rider base is essential to its success, and nobody wants more to see TriMet succeed than those who rely upon it or would like to use it more. Some of TriMet’s strongest advocates are within the community, and over the past years TriMet has repeatedly damaged the trust and relationships it has with community groups by being non-transparent, intentionally misleading, and non-responsive to community input. The next GM must know about and acknowledge this dynamic and outline how they will change their approach with the community instead of repressing community voice and input.
- Vision: The next GM needs a clear vision for improving transit access through service improvements and increased bus service; addressing climate change through increased ridership, transit priority, and shifting away from dirty diesel buses; equity and justice for all Portland area riders through fare affordability and safety reform. They must see transportation access as a human right, and transit as a public good.
- Climate change: We need to dramatically increase transit ridership to reach the region’s climate goals, and it’s essential to rapidly increase transit service and priority to do so; TriMet’s bus fleet spews dirty diesel particulate emissions into our communities, and we need to immediately shift away from dirty diesel toward electrifying the transit system.
- Reimagining Public Safety: Our next GM must be committed to public safety by reallocating armed transit police funding to health services, community incentives programs, de-escalation trainings, culturally specific education for all employees (for example, combatting anti-Blackness, and an understanding of disability justice, LGBTQ and gender justice, youth and elderly, and other needs of historically oppressed communities in the context of transportation), employees who live in — and are invested in — the communities they serve, and other forms of community care-centered safety initiatives. This also calls for an end to discriminatory targeting and surveillance, and breaking of the intergovernmental agreements with policing forces (public and private) across the region.
- Implementing YouthPass: Multiple youth-led organizing groups have spent 20 years advocating for a regional YouthPass. The next GM needs to stand ready to partner with community advocates to make this vision a reality.
- Coordinating on Housing: Supporting coordinated anti-displacement coalitions to keep folks rooted in their communities through investments in affordable housing, community groups, placemaking, and equitable transit oriented development.
- Rebuilding and Supporting Ridership: In context to the COVID-19 emergency, TriMet will need to rebuild its ridership and find ways to support its core riders, such as essential workers, low-income folks, and BIPOC riders, many of whom already struggled to afford the fare, are living further from the places where they need to go, and now face service cuts.
- Focus on Transit Operators and Riders: We need a GM with experiences serving the most transportation underserved and transit dependent riders, will support transit operators, and creates space for transit priorities beyond choice ridership, including connecting people to essential destinations.