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Monday, January 12, 2009

MAX Fare Woes Highlighted In Video Featuring Hot Reporter

Posted by Matt Davis on Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 1:48 PM

Back in June, I spent a hot Sunday going to a bunch of MAX stations with transportation activist Bob Richardson, for an In The Shadows column. Richardson happened to bring his video camera along, and has put together the following ten-minute account of our experiences on the day. I should warn you, it's not only totally wonky, but also, hilarious and engaging and marvelous, too. What more can I say? We tried...

Richardson has contacted Trimet spokesperson Mary Fetsch today, linking her to the video, asking her if anything has improved:
Speaking anecdotally from my own experiences in the last six months, there hasn't appeared to be much improvement (in fact, things are worse at my closest station), but I don't know what's been going on agency-wide... Can you provide any statistics or a road map which might indicate improvements to come?

One important thing we realized after doing this project is that even though most stations have at least two ticket machines (if you count all platforms), the failure of just one machine can cause significant burdens to passengers. As the video shows, most of the stations on the Yellow Line (much like the stations on the original Blue Line east of 102nd) have median platforms which are split by intersections. If a passenger cannot purchase a fare at one platform, it requires a total of six signalized pedestrian crossings to make a round trip to the opposite platform. Because most signals require a button to be pushed (and a wait of a full cycle), this can conceivably take up to 12 minutes. This kind of delay, combined with the risk of missing a train, encourages people to jaywalk in order to buy a fare. Should it really be the effective policy that a passenger must cross a wide, busy street like Lombard or 122nd twice in order to purchase a ticket?

Based on that concern, my informal recommendation would be that TriMet place two ticket machines on each independent platform where a major street crossing is required. Do you know if this issue has been discussed internally?

Richardson also sent Fetsch a spreadsheet showing the stations and platforms visited, itemizing the condition of the machines tested. I bet he's just made her day. Don't you think? Hope you enjoy the video. Thanks for all the hard work putting it together, Bob.

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