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City Council to consider $966,666 for student transit passes

Portland has committed to pay nearly $1 million to continue TriMet passes to high school students for the coming school year.

The City Council is scheduled to consider an ordinance authorizing the commitment to the Student Transit Pass program this Wednesday.

The money includes $300,000 to TriMet to help offset its lost revenue and $666,666 to improve pedestrian crossings, sidewalks and handicap access at and her bus stops in the city.

Portland Public Schools will also pay $300,000 to TriMet to continue the program for another year. The regional transit agency expects to lose $2.9 million in revenue by not changing the students whenever they ride a bus or MAX train.

Some elected officials in the rest of the region are upset TriMet is essentially subsidizing students in the city but not anywhere else. Portland Public Schools is the only school district in TriMet's service agency that does not provide state-mandated transportation to its high school students. The Portland district is exempted because bus and train service is so complete in the city, but state law does not require TriMet to absorb the $2.3 million loss.

Much of the cost had previously been offset by funding from the Oregon Department of Energy Business Energy Tax Credit Program. The 2011 Oregon Legislature eliminated that funding, however.

The ordinance directs Portland to appoint a program manager to work with TriMet and the school district to identify other funding sources in the future.