KATU Covers MAX Ticket Machine Issue

KATU’s Brian Barker did a two-part story, last night and today, regarding the high percentage of broken MAX ticket machines, and the problems faced by responsible riders.

Setting aside for a moment the surely-coincidental but very obvious similarities in format and style to the “Fair is Fair?” MAX ticket machine documentary I did with Matt Davis of the Mercury last summer, it is good to see this issue getting some mainstream press attention.

Last night’s broadcast contained an error regarding the validation times stamped by validators, but that has been removed from today’s broadcast and the KATU web version does not contain the error.


13 responses to “KATU Covers MAX Ticket Machine Issue”

  1. If you ask me, fare machines and validators should be on every MAX train. Station validators are often malfunctioning, probably because of vandalism. And when people get to a MAX stop ready to board, it can be a discouraging high-pressure rush to buy a ticket before boarding; plus, what with the “honor system” (which I totally respect), people forget to buy a ticket before boarding. Ticket machines on MAX trains ought to be easier to service. Badda bing, badda boom.

  2. The TVMs are on a fiberoptic network, which is tough to maintain on a moving vehicle. And I do not believe vandalism is the primary issue with the machines.

  3. You can’t buy a two zone upgrade on the machines. They used to tell me to buy an “honored citizen” ticket to get home from the airport, as it was not much more cost and together with my monthly pass would keep me from being thrown off the train and fined.

    Now you can’t buy an “honored citizen” fare from the machines.

    And we’re redefining “frequent service” as we cut service all over the City, including on MAX even as we extend MAX.

    Make sense? I don’t think so…

  4. The fare machines poor reliability is ridiculous, and I am an ardent transit supporter.

    I had a family member who knows that I am fairly involved in transportation come and complain to me that the machines almost never work, and he has missed trains many times trying to get a ticket.

    I once tried to take a group of friends and kids on MAX to the Zoo Lights this last holiday season. They wanted to take two cars, but I talked them in to taking MAX. We went to three machines and missed a train trying to buy tickets. They decided that MAX was a pain.

    Two weeks ago I went to buy my March pass at the machine IN FRONT OF TRI-MET’S OFFICE on SE 17th and SE Center. The machine worked but would not print a receipt – and since it was a Saturday there was NO WAY I COULD CONTACT ANYONE. They no longer take messages over the phone, and the two Tri-Met employees I met on the path said there was nothing they could do.

    Last week I used MAX to pick up my daughter at school. I have a pre-purchased book of youth tickets, but the validators at Sunset transit center were all broken. Every one of them.

    Last fall I was at the Pioneer Place station, and I was trying to buy monthly passes for my family and I, three passes total. I purchased one and it worked fine, but would not work for any more passes. All the machines on both sides of the square were malfunctioning.

    And these are just my own recent experiences. I am just one guy, and I support Tri-Met and Transit. But come on! Rule #1 of a successful business is to be able to take customers money!

    By comparison, I have NEVER had a parking meter fail on me, in over 10 years here. They should sell transit tickets via the parking meters.

  5. Why do TVMs need to be on a fiber optic network? The cellular network seems to support the parking meters just fine.

    I can’t see why a ticket machine needs more bandwidth than my home internet connection – when at home I can stream high definition video just fine. Do they run World of Warcraft servers on their ticket machines?

    People at the Saturday Market can process credit cards with a Nokia phone fitted with a card reader, yet TriMet needs fiber optic connections to it’s ticket machines?

  6. Why do TVMs need to be on a fiber optic network?

    I believe the fiber optic network already exists along the MAX lines. There’s a lot more things to track and monitor than just the ticket machines. And I’m guessing that all of the cameras make the fiber get well-used.

    process credit cards with a Nokia phone fitted with a card reader

    TriMet has outfitted some of the Customer Service people with mobile card readers (in addition to workers who just take cash). However, if the machine breaks, they’re no better than a bad TVM.

  7. Speaking of this, one of my pals made the following comment which seems so terribly smart and simple has anybody even brought this up?

    Did TriMet ever consider using the stimulus money to finally update and fix all of the broken fare machines on the MAX platforms.

    How about updating the bus fare boxes and go with a card reader system that would put the district into the 21st century?

    Fare revenues would increase, which would preserve jobs and maintain service levels.

  8. Jeff F. wrote: The TVMs are on a fiberoptic network, which is tough to maintain on a moving vehicle. And I do not believe vandalism is the primary issue with the machines.


    A whole category of mobile TVM systems that are tested and proven in Germany, including a model that can be used in buses (to provide commonality between TriMet’s bus and TriMet’s MAX system, instead of our current discriminate bus fare system and our MAX fare system.)

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