The DNA board points out that fareless transit is a public service that has been available in downtown Portland for 37 years and concludes, "We find it hard to comprehend how a thoughtful and informed decision could be made about the future of fareless transit in the absence of the most rudimentary information about who exactly will be affected and in what way." The DNA's letter asks the Streetcar to gather further data before acting.
"Fareless transit in Downtown Portland is one of the city's greatest accomplishments," says DNA Chair Felicia Williams. "Just a few weeks ago, Travel & Leisure magazine named Portland #1 in the country on 'Public Transportation and Pedestrian Friendliness'. This is the sort of hard-won achievement no amount of PR could ever buy and, sadly, it looks like we’re preparing to walk away from it."
Daniel Friedman, a longtime DNA board member, says that transportation officials have consistently trivialized the effects of eliminating fareless streetcar travel. "PBoT keeps saying this is a change that will mainly affect the 13,000 people who live downtown. In fact, most of the streetcar's fareless riders live somewhere else. The Free Rail Zone isn't some sort of special amenity for people who live downtown, it's a valued public service that's available to everyone. On a typical day, that means 87,000 downtown workers, 28,000 PSU students, 6000 out-of-town visitors, and tens of thousands more who’ve travelled downtown to shop, catch a movie, have a meal, see the doctor, go to a museum, or visit a government office. Downtown Portland is the heart and soul of a metropolitan area of two million and one of the most successful central city districts in the country. The whole region will be affected if fareless transit is abolished."
“The FRZ should be a point of civic pride," Friedman adds, noting that Portland's fareless zone is the country's largest. "A decision as important as this shouldn't be made under-the-radar."