Light rail is not competing for funds with union compensation or bus service. TriMet obtained new revenues to pay for TriMet’s share of construction, and of light rail and commuter rail operating costs not covered by fares.
TriMet extended the payroll tax to municipalities beginning in 1990, to pay for the cost of Westside MAX operations. TriMet increased the payroll tax for employers and self-employed individuals from .6218% to .7218% over ten years beginning January 1, 2005 and ending January 1, 2014.
Revenues from the increase in the payroll tax rate and fare revenue from new services pays for the operating cost of WES, Green line MAX, LIFT and Streetcar extensions, and TriMet’s share of the capital costs of WES and Green line.
In its 2009 session, the Oregon Legislature gave the TriMet board additional authority to increase the payroll tax rate for employers and self-employed individuals from .7218% to .8218%. The purpose of the increase is to add transit service in the future as the region grows. New revenues are a small fraction of underlying revenues. TriMet expects to implement the rate increase before 2015.
The chart illustrates the use of revenues from the increase in the payroll tax rate between FY05 and FY10: