The Late-Night MAX Experience

Regular followers of this blog may remember multiple discussion regarding safety and security on MAX, especially late at night. Several recent well-publicized incidents of assault and theft on MAX and at stations have increased scrutiny of the system and have prompted TriMet to announce changes, including the creation of special transit police precincts for the west side and east side of the system.

Last week, PortlandTransport regular Al M. and I took a late-night tour of the original eastern Blue Line, from downtown to Gresham, to see what we might encounter.

After visiting 11 stations and taking 9 trains, we witnessed a police fare inspection, and tested multiple ticket machines. The following video is a compilation of what we found:

Conclusions after the jump…
We did not witness any serious incidents, and most riders kept to themselves.

We chose a Thursday night with good weather, to see what a typical week-night experience might be for someone returning late from work or dinner downtown. In the future, we may do this project again on a Saturday night or during a period such as Spring Break to see what kinds of behavior might be witnessed.

At this point, this is by no means a scientific sample. If there is sufficient interest, we may repeat the weeknight experience again to try and quantify just how much late-night bad behavior happens on MAX.

The big discovery on this trip: The ticket machines are very unreliable. In the majority of cases (by just a bit), we encountered platforms which had either partially-functioning machines (coins only or bills only, exact change required, etc.) or completely out-of-service machines.

The other interesting tidbit: The fare inspection netted zero violators. 100% of the riders on the car we boarded had a valid fare instrument, and there were no sudden departures from the car as the police boarded.

Finally, a disclosure: One of the police officers was a personal friend of mine. However, this officer had no involvement in scheduling this production and was assigned to MAX that day as part of his regular duties.

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