TriMet plans service cuts to ease budget shortfall

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Portland's regional mass transit agency plans to increase fares by as much as 19 percent and eliminate its free-rail zone in an effort to close a budget deficit.

TriMet projects a budget shortfall of between $12 million and $17 million, pending the outcome of contract talks with workers.

The agency's budget proposal released Wednesday ends free light-rail trips through downtown Portland. The zone -- formerly known as "fareless square" -- has been a staple of the mass-transit system since it was adopted in the 1970s to fight air pollution.

The budget would also cut bus service on some lines and boost ticket prices to $2.50 for rides on buses, trains and streetcars.

They are currently either $2.10 or $2.40, depending on the distance of the trip.