BY BRANDON SAWYER
TriMet, Oregon’s biggest transit agency, took passengers for a bumpy ride last year — reducing service, cutting routes, eliminating its “Free Rail Zone” and raising fares. But the agency boosted passenger miles 5% to 472 million for the 12 months ending June 2012 and increased boarding rides 2% to 103.3 million. Smaller transit systems are also gaining momentum. Corvallis Transit became entirely fareless in 2011 with a citywide tax, and Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley Transportation District received a three-year federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant in April 2012, allowing it to introduce evening and Saturday service. Since then, ridership has increased 24%. Paige Townsend, RVTD senior planner, notes that transit use has been on the rise nationally, with a 1.6% increase in the second quarter of 2012. Figures from the National Transit Database provide a 2010-2011 comparison of agencies around the state.