Portland’s having more and more trouble with fare evaders, so they’re renovating stations and checking tickets at the entrance to certain stops.

With design 75 percent complete, the $600,000 renovations would reshape where and how riders pay for tickets.

New fencing will enclose fare-paid zones at 82nd Avenue and at the westbound Gresham Central platform. Ticket-vending machines will be moved outside the fencing, and 42-inch openings will serve as checkpoints. Authorities will be stationed there 10 to 12 hours a day to check entrants, Banta said. No specific date has been set for the test program to begin.

“It’s an easier way to check for fares,” he said.

TriMet’s decision to enclose the platforms comes as the agency draws criticism for faulty ticket machines and a system that infrequently punishes those who don’t pay. With soaring fuel costs, increased ticket prices and record numbers of transit users, TriMet and agencies nationwide are increasingly addressing fare-evasion problems.

New York City this month raised fines for ticketless subway riders for the first time since 1984. San Francisco is studying how much money its system loses to free riders. And transit officials in Los Angeles County have approved installation of nearly 400 gates at subway and light-rail systems to curtail an estimated $5.5 million lost annually from skipped fares.

Being a native East-coaster, turnstiles seem like second nature to me, but Schiendelman assures me they’re just not cost effective out here. I’m not sure that’s the case, since a staffer monitoring the turnstiles is also potentially a security guard, which is a nice thing to have for many reasons.

Regardless, I hope Sound Transit is observing these developments closely, as it certainly isn’t too late to institute a more strictly enforced fare system. One of the bigger problems, however, would be how to electronically handle those crappy paper transfers.

Via Portland Transport.

14 Replies to “TriMet Steps Up Fare Enforcement”

  1. There aren’t too many Link stations– just have inspectors camp out at them with a couple to rotate between underused stations throughout the day.

    They can inspect tickets as people board and disembark trains.

  2. “One of the bigger problems, however, would be how to electronically handle those crappy paper transfers.”

    Require ORCA cards for free transfers. Make deals with convenience stores to offer card sales and recharging.

    I’m visiting Korea right now, and that system works well here for bus and subway transfers. Because of the free transfers, people -only- use the contactless smart-cards; I’ve yet to see anyone pay for a bus with coins, which makes loading and unloading freakishly efficient.

    1. David,

      ORCA isn’t going to be ready for next summer. Obviously, in the long run there will be some electronic system, but in the short run we’re going to have to deal with a system that uses non-electronically readable media.

      1. I’m sure if you created a matrix of dots on the transfer paper and made a simple reader that determined tear-off point (time) and the date stamp (x% removed from the proper day’s code, or more simply, just have day-to-day printed transfers), you could easily get the transfer read and turned into a normal card-stock rider ticket for Link.

        1) Insert slip into simple reader
        2) Reader checks the line from one corner of the tear to the other to approximate transfer time
        3) Reader verifies date stamp
        4) Reader displays expiration time and date and asks rider if they want to add time or tells rider the transfer is expired
        5) Rider can add time in quarter-hour increments (especially if trains are running off-peak)
        6) Heavier stock ticket is printed.

      2. Good luck implementing that system by next year.

        I say just leave room for future enforcement machines, and start out with the honor system.

      3. Oh, the honor system works pretty well, regardless of what people want to think about it.

      4. Good luck on the tear off card stock idea.
        What did we learn from year 2000 and the “chad”?

        Bye the way any time you tear any any paper ticket media by hand or other wise its going to get jammed up in the machine on reentry and take your gear out of service! Good try but sorry there is a lot of holes in this suggested process above.

        So here is how it works on other US based systems:

        (ie Virginia/DC VRE)
        The ticket vending machine prints out a multi trip paper ticket much like that of the sounder ticket the size of a credit card.

        The paper ticket has an electronically encoded magnetic stripe on the back that the TVM uses to read how many trips have been utilized. Each time you reinsert the ticket in to the TVM it reads the mag strip and then thermal prints the proper time and date stamp on the face of the paper ticket for the fare inspector to read.

        Other older systems(ie St. Louis Bi-State / San Diego Coaster)have the TVM issuing smaller single trip paper tickets that the customer then takes over to a second device the “validator” (a basic time stamping machine on a pole) not much different than an old fashion time clock at the office. You insert the ticket and a loud thunk imprints the time and date via old school typewriter impression/ribbon style printing.

    2. I agree those paper transfers and old school time stamping fare validates found on other rail projects suck!

      Even validating paper tickets inside a TVM can be a process…

      The contactless ORCA smart card is the answer for many reasons!

      The new Link Ticket Vending Machines will have the capability of selling and dispense brand new fare loaded ORCA smart cards at each Link Station. Charging and reloading of the ORCA cards can also be supported at the TVM.

      What could be more easier that that?
      With each station having at least more than one TVM generally.

      Sound Transit’s Union Station front desk should also have a cashier to support the sales of fare media smart cards and tickets and may likely impove in this area of customer support in the future. However there is a TVM inside Union Station at the South end of the great hall next to security dispatch so that is good support at the agency.

      Not so excited in installing the retail outlets with fare collection gear as they would only be eating away a % of the collected fare margins and causing additional maintenance demands. With the condition of our current economy the agency need to retain as much fare as possible. I’ve witnessed when behind the counter fare collection devices have been place in quick stops that often times any basic technical issue such as a simple receipt jam completely shuts the retail operators down on ticket sales. They call the agency for a support technician as the convenience stores clerks don’t even want to bother with any thing technical no matter how minor or easy it may be to fix. With busy flow of customers trying to purchase beer, pop, smokes and fuel so its easier for them to announce “the public transit ticket machine is broken come back later or even better yet you can purchase at the transit station from the TVM machines.”

      With smart card being an electronic purse, purchasing fare no longer has to be a bothersome daily process. Again with the possibility of web-based payment methods you may only have to tap your ORCA card during boarding!

  3. I think they should put turnstiles in the dstt, and make the ride free zone only apply to surface buses. Even if they just have turnstiles there, so many trips will be to or from downtown that it will be worth it. Also, it has always looked to me like they designed a lot of the stations to be able to do that. Does anyone know anything about that?

    1. And by that I mean it looks like they designed the DSTT stations to accommodate turnstiles in the future.

  4. I think that is a really smart idea- make the ride free zone only apply to surface buses. Does anyone know how much a link fare will cost?

    1. Cross your fingers and toes and pry to the transit gods that ERG gets the back end IT support and payment mechanisms for ORCA smart cards fully implemented in time for Seattle Link revenue collection opening! We can’t afford to loose any more time on delivery of the smart card program!

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