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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 25, 2011 9:43 PM. The previous post in this blog was Speaking of Opie. The next post in this blog is A national third party -- on the internet?. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Woo hoo! Fare-jumper tickets on MAX.

Tri-Met's acting all rough and tough on the legion of scofflaws who don't pay money to ride Portland's wonderful, turnstile-free rail network. Those tickets are $175 apiece!

Yes, but Tri-Met actually nets only $69 of that -- the rest goes to the state and the county. And so, to pay for the six new fare "supervisors," who probably make $100,000 a year including benefits, it would take 8,696 citations that actually get paid every year to break even. That's 24 new paid citations every day, including weekends, above what Tri-Met's already been collecting. Think that's gonna happen?

They don't have this problem on buses -- at least the ones on which the driver actually enforces the fare rules.

Comments (15)

It's more complicated than that. If Tri-Met can demonstrate that the overall fare compliance rate goes up as a result of the new fare inspectors then it can argue that they are worth it fiscally no matter how many tickets they write.

Of course they will also have to account for the cost of conducting a statistically valid study of the issue too :)

I smell a no-bid unpaid fines collections company contract comin' up.

In addition to Gordon's point, I'd imagine there are safety benefits to having the extra presence on board. I don't think they need to break even in citation revenue to be worth it.

I frequently ride on TriMet buses, and I have never seen a bus driver neglect to enforce the fare. In fact, I have witnessed several instances of people being ejected for attempting to ride without paying.

Why can't TriMet install turnstiles?? They could probably do so for some small fraction of what they are investing to build another line to Milwaukie.

"I don't think they need to break even in citation revenue".
Obviously, Aaron you don't own, nor are you responsible for any sort of business, which must not only break even, but show a profit to survive.
As long as TriMet is allowed to do what ever it pleases at the expense of the taxpayer this type fiscal irresponsibility will continue.

"Why can't TriMet install turnstiles??"

We ust keep in mind how dishonest TriMet is.

They've been inflating ridership numbers for years.

TriMet is probably afraid turnstiles will discourage ridership and count the rest more accurately.

Also there are new crime numbers for the Green line and they are nervous about more truth effecting the MLR, LO streetcar and CRC/light rail.

Their pretense of security increase will be costly and not be enough to curb the problem.

They have known for along time they need to spend much more for a lot more police presense.
But they are TriMet running a racket while pretending to be a transit agency.

Look for Neil McFarlane to looking at retirement soon.

Lynn Peterson is right now trying to help the governor appoint two o the right kind of people to replace Clark and Schwietzer.

Imagine the qualifications Peterson is looking for.

They have to be like her.

Question: When cities hire more police, do they generally expect them to "pay for themselves" or "make a profit?"

And: When cities lay off police, do they necessarily become more "profitable?"

Just asking.

PS: I own a business - a couple of them.

If they won't pay to ride, then I'll bet 90% of those cheaters sure as heck won't pay the fine if caught. So I guess to get 24 cites paid every day there would need to be about 240 cites issued every day. Probably not going to happen, but that's OK

The fare inspectors could certainly do the job for less, but on the fip side there may some positives here. Maybe everyday working folks will start to board and ride if the miscreants are finally held accountable and/or sent packing. Maybe it is a livability issue to make sure that all is fair.

There are many enforcement endeavors out there that make life a little better for us all, and don't show a profit. I just wish they could have added more inspectors for the same cost.

If TriMet were to take care of what it already has, instead of expanding that would be a huge improvement.
Some sort of pre-boarding security would help. 6 more "fare inspectors" at a hundred grand a year each are not the answer to the many problems that TriMet has.

I'm OK with the fare inspectors- it is much cheaper than putting in turnstiles. And I don't believe public transportation needs to "pay for itself". Most public projects, like fixing the roads, do no pay for themselves. It is considered a public good that we all benefit from.

Tri-met is a popular whipping target because of their high-handed undemocratic process, but let's not discount the benefit of public transportation.

I'm pretty sure the cost of installing turnstiles and maintaining them (and the perpetually broken ticket machines), would exceed the marginal revenue they'd collect. I can't imagine the 9 supervisors would cost less than the small team of maintenance workers it would take to maintain the approximately 1,000 turnstiles (87 max stops, 6 turnstiles per train, 2 sides at each stop).These things get pretty hard use in an unsupervised urban environment. Fare collectors are probably a more cost effective way to improve revenue, and, as others have pointed out, also increase rider safety.

What's the point writing more tickets if the fare inspectors don't show up in court and it gets dismissed?I would advise everyone who gets a citation to fight it and make the fare inspectors show up I court.I highly doubt most of them will even bother showing.6 more fare boys wont make any more difference than now.

I think basically its a helpful move, and I have been actually seeing these people out there doing the job, not hanging around in break rooms or sitting in trucks. That is a good thing.

I am totally against the no tolerance policy, everybody should be entitled to a warning BEFORE being fined.

I am also deeply suspicious of the ticket machine statistics, Trimet is saying 94% reliability, I wish somebody would verify that independent of Trimet. There should be some sort of ticket validator on the trains, maybe even a way to buy tickets right on the trains, like they have on the streetcars.

An upgrade to its fare collection/ transfer system would have been good idea rather than a bus wash (which washes 20 year old buses). A smart card system is used by 80% of transit districts but we here in Portland stick to the same old antiquated fare collection/transfer systems that I remember way back when I was in high school in Boston.

And how bout a revamp of the entire fare structure? The zone system is confusing and should be thrown out the window. Transfers should be for ONE RIDE only and put in the fare box when used rather than letting riders hold on to them forever, they all look the same to me, its completely unenforceable.

Are they even bothering to secure the stations in the new mystery train construction or will it be the same wide open system as we have now?

I'm sorry to say, I think this is all window dressing, they might enforce for awhile, but it won't last and then things will go back to the way they were, unstructured, unsupervised, and basically complete chaos.

There is one more angle here that needs to be considered. I have seen many more police speed traps in the last few months than ever before. I'm thinking government in general is trying to find ways to increase its cash flow. So they send the goon squads after the citizens in an effort to accumulate cash. Being that most of the fare evasion money goes to other agencies, Trimet may just be another brick in the wall.

Last but not least, lets look at who has been responsible for the fare collection mess.
The managers, planners and bureaucrats that designed this system are fully to blame for all the problems that they themselves have created with their short sighted and Utopian vision for Portland.

Hold on Jack- If an inspector issued. 2 citations per hour is $350. Times 8 hours a day=$2800x5 days a week=$14000 per week X 52 weeks=$728000!

Tri-Met could add turnstiles, but to what end? The gang-bangers'll just hop over them.


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