Fare is Fair? A look (back) at TriMet ticket machine performance
Back in June, Portland Mercury reporter Matt Davis and I spent a Sunday checking out ticket machines along the MAX Yellow Line and portions of the original Blue Line. We took along my video camera to document the results. Matt wrote up an article at the time, but my video project wasn’t completed until recently. That video was presented in a Portland Mercury BlogTown post in January. On that day, we found a number of problems, minor to significant. A complete spreadsheet was produced itemizing the situation at each stop. One of the most interesting finds was that at stations where the two platforms are split by an intersection (most of the Yellow Line, and the Blue Line east of Gateway), a passenger can be highly inconvenienced by following the law: It takes six signalized crossings and a number of minutes to obtain a valid fare if one machine is broken — potentially leading to missed trains. This provides an incentive for unsafe running and jaywalking. I’ve held off on doing a Portland Transport post until I could get a response from TriMet regarding the current state of the ticket machine situation (especially since this reporting was originally done last June). Anecdotally, the situation hasn’t improved at my local station, which now has only one machine in total. If you haven’t seen the video, check it out, then read on for TriMet’s response: Mary Fetsch responded to the video and my follow-up questions… here is a summary:
- Responsibility for ticket machines is being moved from the Finance division to Operations.
- The strategy for deploying technicians will change, with an increased emphasis on repairing broken machines.
- The number of qualified technicians able to work on ticket machines should double in the near term, with a long-term goal of tripling to 24 positions.
- Work will be prioritized to maintain at least one working machine per platform, instead of the prior goal which was one per station, prioritized for locations where street crossings are required between platforms.
- Fare equipment failures will signal alarms in the Operations Control center, similar to when there are problems with switches or substations.
- Discussions are underway for alternative means of ticket sales at platforms when machines are down.