According to a TriMet document that was highlighted this week, the Portland regional transit agency intends to raise fares on buses and trains by 10 cents every other year beginning in 2021.

The possible future fare hike was the subject of discussion at a Sept. 18 board meeting this week where advocates pressed the agency not to enact increases.

"We cannot increase fares while marginally improving services," Bus Riders Unite organizer Gabriela Saldana-Lopez testified. "In order to properly address issues of climate, equity and accessibility, there needs to be more focus on gaps within our system."

TriMet general manager, Doug Kelsey confirmed during the board meeting that "a fare increase has been outlined in our financial projections." TriMet's 2020 business plan, reviewed by WW this week, mentions plans for future hikes. The 10-cent increases would arrive after a decade without fare increases.

However, TriMet spokeswoman Roberta Altstadt says that there are "no plans to increase fares." She added that the statement in the business plan is "just a placeholder" in the event TriMet decides to raise fares.

Members of Bus Riders Unite argue that before TriMet increases rider fares, the organization should do more to improve services, thereby increasing ridership. The fare hike could have the opposite impact, with fewer riders taking the bus.

"This approach will not reverse declining ridership nor meet our community's and our planet's needs," says Doug Allen, a member of BRU and a former TriMet employee.