The beta test for the TriMet fare app is winding down, and Joe Rose at the Oregonian has published a review of it.
I think the review is fair and pretty much reflects my experience as a beta tester as well.
It’s the headline that scares me: “GlobeSherpa’s TriMet Tickets app rescues riders from the machines”.
Now I make my living as a technologist, and process innovation is a big part of what I do, so I’m delighted that the fare app technology is becoming available.
But it does not excuse TriMet from making their ticket vending machines (TVMs) reliable!
I don’t personally use the TVMs much, I usually buy books of tickets over the counter at retailers. But clearly TVMs have been a huge headache for riders.
So if we “rescue” a subset of users from that problem based on their ability to afford an expensive smart phone, that’s a big equity problem. If a lower transaction volume on the TVMs due to smart phone use lowers maintenance cost, that’s great. But TriMet cannot be allowed to leave one class of users stuck with sub-par service.