Front of a Swift TVM
A ticket machine for Swift BRT, photo by author

One mitigation measure suggested in Metro’s No Ride Free Simulation Study is “implementing ticket machines and/or ORCA readers at high boarding locations along Second, Third and Fourth Avenues.” The goal is to have passengers pay before they board the bus like on Link light rail or Swift BRT. When combined with a proof-of-payment (POP) system, the all door boarding benefit of the Ride Free Area can be retained.

The introduction of RapidRide C, D, and E Lines in the next two years would presumably bring ORCA readers and some kind of POP to the busiest Downtown Seattle stops. Ticket machines would allow cash payers to pay before boarding.

How much would the ticket vending machines (TVMs) cost? The $400,000 per year that the City of Seattle pays Metro for the RFA is enough to buy at least twenty Swift style ticket vending machines. That’s enough to equip every RapidRide stop within the RFA* with a TVM and for six other busy stops downtown.

I say at least twenty because I’m assuming a total cost per TVM of $20,000 based on Community Transit’s costs for Swift’s TVMs including spares, the management system, taxes, and contingency. The TVMs themselves cost $9,000 (accepts coins and cards) to $13,000 (accepts coins, cards and bills) per unit. I think there is potential for cost savings if Metro leverages the City of Seattle’s existing infrastructure which supports over 1,600 parking pay stations and off-board TVMs on the South Lake Union Streetcar.

I’m not suggesting that the city spend all $400,000 on ticket machines but merely pointing out how much that amount could buy. It’s not an insignificant amount. It isn’t a new concept either, hundreds of stops in Central London’s “cashless zone” have ticket machines for fare pre-payment since 2003.

*According to Metro’s maps there are 14 RapidRide stops in the RFA. Stop pairs are on 3rd Ave at Yesler, Cherry, Seneca, Pike, Virginia, and Bell. For C & D lines there are another two stops, on 2nd & Seneca and 2nd & Columbia. I’m not sure why the E Line (358) doesn’t have a stop at 5th & Jackson.

**Disclaimer: The author is currently employed by the City of Seattle. However, all opinions expressed in this article are completely his own and may not reflect the views of anyone else.

76 Replies to “$400k = 20+ Ticket Machines”

  1. $400,000 = 5 full-time police officers to patrol 3rd & Pine.

    Just sayin’… We have been actively avoiding that stop whenever possible.

    1. Unfortunately, they don’t. Machines like the ones that can vend ORCA cost $50,000 according to CT. Modifying the cheap machine to reload ORCA cards probably can be done, at additional cost.

      I think vending and reloading ORCA cards isn’t a priority for these machines downtown. We already have machines in the tunnel stations and two customer service offices to do that.

      Also, I feel that adding ORCA retail outlets might be more cost effective than expensive full service ticket machines. That’s just a hunch but I’d like to figure the costs out.

      1. Adding Orca services to retail outlets is a great idea. San Francisco’s Clipper Card can be purchased and reloaded at any Bay Area Walgreens. Easy peasy.

      2. But isn’t ORCA better for both riders and Metro? Personally, I would prefer seeing a move to ORCA-only. If you don’t have an ORCA card and you try to ride the bus you have to pay $10 or something to get a preloaded card.

        This would really only impact users the first time they ride the bus, every time after that they can just reload their card. I just went to London, and the first thing I did was buy an Oyster card for a week, and then when I left I just turned it back in and got the deposit. It was really easy. I think moving away from cash /tickets would be a good goal, and why not start here.

      3. Yes, more ORCA use is better but there’ll always be cash payers.

        To use London as an example, in 2010, 80% of bus and tube trips use Oyster (achieved through pricing cash fares significantly higher, having thousands of retail outlets, daily price capping, etc, etc.) There’s still that 20% not using Oyster for whatever reason. Having roadside ticket machines at busy stops minimizes the delay and dwell time variability caused by that 20%.

      4. Machines like the ones that can vend ORCA cost $50,000 according to CT.

        This pisses me off so much. The vendors are absolutely fleecing us.

      5. Without a doubt we’re getting screwed on these machines. This is probably a good example of where government can’t make a decision to save their life. Not only are they horribly designed (just sit at a Swift stop and watch people try to use them) but they incredibly overpriced.

    2. In a future Seattle, one TVM should be able to dispense both parking stickers and bus tickets.

      1. My thought exactly…they already have parking ticket machines all over the city…how hard would it be to add an extra menu item and print a bus ticket with a bar code that the fare box could read?

  2. 3rd & Pine is well known bad corner. It’s not a good idea to put TVM units there. If they do, those units won’t last that long with all of the crime that goes on there.

    1. Seattles parking TVMs have done pretty well. I haven’t ever seen one vandalized to the point it didn’t work.

      1. I have seen several, over the past few years. Once the screen has been destroyed, they’re pretty much useless.

        I still think they’re worth it, though.

    2. I was saying that instead of off-board-payment-assisting-devices, probably making sure people didn’t get stabbed quite as much would be good.

      $400k also = 80,000 free ORCA cards, or 160,000 half-price cards, which would make getting on & off easier, if we gave them to the people still fishing around in their pockets for nickels, or made them free at the airport for arriving tourists.

      1. Don’t forget that it doesn’t really cost $5 to provide an ORCA card, any more than it costs a supermarket $1.25 to offer a gourmet soda. $400K could provide 400K or 200K free cards without the agencies losing money.

      2. Speaking of, has anyone got a good reason why ORCA’s cost $5? Shouldn’t this be a loss-leader, razor’s-free-charge-for-the-blades, free-flip-phone-with-contract sort of thing? Maybe only sell them loaded with $20 or something, to reduce them being thrown out.

        I was on a bus yesterday when a somewhat-improvised tour group of 39 people hopped on, and the guide paid for them all one-by-one in cash. Madness! If they each had ORCA’s, this would’ve been beep-beep-beep and we’re done, but I couldn’t really recommend they grab one, given that they were probably only taking 4-5 trips total while visiting Seattle.

      3. Absolutely. Either come pre-loaded or at least offer a refund. We want people to have ORCA cards. It saves transit systems money and time.

      4. We want people to have ORCA because we want people to have money on their ORCA card. The transit agency earns interest.

        Just like the state DOT earing interest on my $40 Good to Go card.(I actually forgot how much it was, it’s been so long)

      5. Don’t forget that it doesn’t really cost $5 to provide an ORCA card

        Don’t forget that’s kinda wrong. Cost for the card itself is $2.41. I don’t think that includes freight from the factory to Seattle. If it gets stuffed in an envelope and mailed out to someone, that costs $0.44 for postage, a few cents for the piece of paper and envelope, plus labor. You’re looking at charges upwards of $3.
        In a TVM, there’s no stamp or envelope, but it does cost money to pay the person to stuff the TVM full of them. And it costs money to maintain the TVM, which would be about $41,000 cheaper if it didn’t dispense cards.

      6. MTA Maryland sells their version of the ORCA, the CharmCard, for $10; that’s $2.50 for the card and $7.50 in value. Why can’t Metro/ST do the same?

  3. How many additional fare enforcement officers would Metro need to hire to check on compliance? I know when TriMet tried POP for buses, it was a disaster. Compliance was so low that there was a temporary cash flow crisis that forced TriMet to go back to pay as you enter. Having a POP system might reduce slightly the number of police officers needed for transit security, but $400k won’t buy more than 6 or 7 additional fare enforcement officers.

    1. Metro’s likely to hire fare enforcement/security officers for RapidRide C, D and E line’s POP, unless you think they aren’t. What are they going to do, front door only downtown and all-door boarding elsewhere? That sounds absolutely ridiculous to me.

      TriMet’s all bus POP was a disaster because of too little enforcement spread over a very large area and unreliable fare validation machines. That did however pave the way to POP on MAX, which is easier to enforce. I don’t think system wide POP on buses is viable but concentrating enforcement to downtown (where most violations are likely to occur) and the RapidRide lines don’t seem unreasonable to me.

      1. But if it’s not feasible systemwide, are we going to wind up with two payment systems again? One for downtown, one for everywhere else?

      2. Yeah I think the lesson from the Trimet experience is that system wide POP doesn’t really work. Pop implementation in the US and around the world does however work for high ridership Bus/Rail where the benefits of faster boarding are absolutely critical and ridership is concentrated enough that fare enforcement is viable.

      3. We already have two systems. One for “rapid transit” services and one for everything else.

        Rapid Transit: all door boarding, pay before you board, POP (Swift, Link, RapidRide, streetcar*)
        Everything else: pay on boarding

        *paying on board does not delay vehicle and streetcar aren’t rapid transit

        At the very least, pay on exit is gone for good. Implementing POP is independent from off-board TVMs** however they go well together.

        **have people show tickets to the driver like transfers as they board through the front door

      4. If it’s implemented right, the tickets would be transfers just like Metro’s existing transfers, so the driver wouldn’t have to exchange a ticket for a transfer.

      5. Yes, just like how streetcar tickets are accepted as transfers in Metro buses. The tickets have the date and time stamped which make them impossible to collect and reuse.

      6. Portland doesn’t have fare enforcers, only fare inspectors. At least on the Streetcar and light rail. They have no ability to make you pay or make you leave. It’s an interesting experiment.

        On a related note, I asked the Swift “ambassadors” and SnoCo Sheriff how many people they catch a day and if they collect on 20% of them it pays their wage. I think POP could be a money maker instead of a money loser. Maybe if all doors are open and the bus driver looks the other way revenue would go up!

  4. Great thinking. Although that was proposed to both Metro and SDOT going back over two years ago.
    How long does it take to turn a battleship?

  5. One interesting thing about off-board payment is that, for cash payers, it tends to be slower per-person than on-board payment. You have to operate the TVM and it has to be able to read your money, and the bus can pull away while you’re paying. At a busy stop you might have to wait in line.

    As long as the ORCA reader is separate from the TVM (I’m pretty sure it is on Swift), the incentive to use ORCA goes up big-time with off-board payment. It’s like metros that require a farecard (Chicago’s L is the one I’m familiar with, and paying cash for individual trips totally sucks on the L… though it’s pretty easy to come in to the city with only cash and buy a farecard that will last you the day, right down in the L station, something our system will lack).

    1. Yeah good point. I think if Metro did this they would want to encourage people to pay before but make sure they knew that they could still pay on the bus. I used this system in Edinburgh. You could pay with coins at busy bus stops before the bus came, or if you get there right when the bus does, pay with coins on the bus. The benefit is that you reduce the number of cash transactions happening on the bus, but it still allows you to have the “enforceability” of a pay as you enter system.

    2. The difference is that there are L stations all over the city so almost everybody can easily get to a TVM. Chicago buses also come every ten minutes all day and evening, so missing the bus doesn’t mean waiting half an hour.

  6. For C & D lines there are another two stops, on 2nd & Seneca and 2nd & Columbia.

    Oh, my god.

    I checked the updated maps, and you’re right.

    So now Ballard RapidRide, with its 0% frequency increase, with its negligible stop consolidations, with its ROW-less Queen Anne detour, with its probably-not-going-to-happen signal priority at Elliott or merger priority at the Ballard Bridge… Ballard RapidRide whose only major improvement was going to be its endpoint reliability

    …is now being through-routed from West Seattle over the most unreliable infrastructure in the city!!!!!

    [expletive], Metro. For once in your existence, keep a promise!!

    1. Holy insult to injury…

      The new map shows RapidRide now preserving every stop in Belltown and all but 2 in Interbay.

      When will it end?

      1. I’m with you, d.p. Calling this service “rapid” with stops 700 feet apart in the middle of an industrial area is positively asinine.

        If we truly are to go decades before seeing any rail in this corridor, maybe we should push to build a direct connection between the West Seattle Bridge and the SODO Busway. Given what the future has in store for the AWV, their planned routing is a recipe for horrible delays.

      2. Seriously, have you people seen the northbound 5 (currently through-routed over the viaduct precisely the way this will be)??

        So what am I getting for my extra 10 minutes walk to and from the new RapidRide station?
        I’m not getting frequency.
        I’m not getting speed.
        I’m not getting any sort of predictability of arrival or journey.

        This is exactly the kind of crap that discourages walking to transit and sends people back into their “one-seat” mentalities. And keeps them from voting for the next TransitNow packet of lies.

        It’s like Metro wants its new flagship program to fail!!

      3. Wait a minute, Matt. Wasn’t the West Seattle RapidRide supposed to use the new 4th Ave ramps, the busway, and the tunnel?

        I guess they decided to screw West Seattle riders over for the express purpose of through-routing it and screwing Ballard riders over.

        Any supposed dollars they’ll save through through-routing this now 17-mile route — with a dozen bottlenecks and not nearly high enough frequency to compensate for this reliability-fucking — will pale in comparison to the goodwill they squander!

        Total idiots. There’s no nicer way to put it.

      4. Sounds like d.p. should finally throw up his hands, admit that Seattle is beyond hopeless, and move back to a real city.

  7. One of the biggest reasons I am excited about the end of the RFA is the end of hobos and hoodlums slowing down, stinking up and generally making every bus downtown unpleasant. Won’t turning downtown surface stops into POP zones effectively neutralize that? Fare enforcement is unlikely to occur Downtown because stops are frequent enough that evaders can easily hop off if they see a checker actually checking (cf Link enforcement in the DSTT). If there’s no enforcement (either economically or simply because stops are too frequent) then this just turns Downtown right back into an RFA for all the folks that keep a lot of folks off transit.

    (And given the mention of London’s cashless zone and my mention of the hobos, I’d just like to throw this out there: “The Government’s official figures for June 2010, based on snapshot street counts, show that 1,768 people were sleeping rough on any given night in England with the vast majority being in London.” In comparison, our last One Night Count found 1,753 people sleeping on Seattle’s streets. That’s the same number of people sleeping on the streets each night in Seattle as in the entire country of England. Even if their cashless zone functions as a rolling homeless shelter the way our RFA seems to, per bus and per capita our problem is many, many times worse.)

    1. Seems to me that downtown would be the best place for roving fare-checkers, given the density of buses and given the fact that front-door entry/rear-door exit will allow drivers to better control vehicle access everywhere else on the route.

      1. I’ve heard that it’s fairly common for fare checkers to get on in the DSTT but not bother with checking until the train gets to MLK, where they actually have time to make it through the train between stops. (I’ve seen this once, but I’ve only ridden Link maybe 5 times total.) Given that it’s maybe 1 minute between stops, should any checkers decide to do their job, any evaders have plenty of time to see them coming and get off at the next stop long before they get to them. Same would be true of buses downtown. And, again, that’s assuming Metro even had the money to hire any real enforcement, which it doesn’t sound like they will.

      2. I’ve been checked for fare once after getting off a Link train. By law and as warned by signs, fare checkers may check your fare on the platform designated a POP zone. They had a couple fare checkers stand at the exit from Stadium Station checking fares during games, too. Given that bus stops are on the streets this will be harder to do.

      3. Truthfully, I thought all-door POP was only being discussed for the tunnel routes. You don’t have to go all-door entry to justify or to require all-off-board payment.

        Sending exiters off the back as much as possible while disallowing any form of cash entry up front allows drivers to still visually scan for evidence of payment, is nearly as fast as what happens downtown now, and is infinitely faster than what happens everywhere outside downtown.

      4. I meant that “you don’t have to go all-door entry to justify or to require all-off-board payment” for the thousand surface routes.

        Tunnel routes should be all-door entry and full-POP so as not to kill the trains.

      5. I’d also like to see something where drivers still scan for POP, but with our ORCA setup there’s no way to do that—you need folks with hand-held readers scanning passengers’ cards one by one. Do they make readers that print fare receipts? Not TVMs where you have to press 20 buttons, but a simple tap, receipt prints, you’re done. If we had that, drivers could easily & quickly scan for POP, and fare enforcers could make their way through a bus or platform a lot faster, making fare-checking more feasible in-between downtown stops. At surface stops, fare enforcers could even check folks as they’re queuing up to get onboard, so drivers don’t have to deal with enforcement at all.

      6. Yes, just moving the cash fumbling off board and using enter front/exit back would speed it up over the status quo downtown after 7 pm. On the surface, I’d still like to see POP/all door boarding at all times on at least RapidRide routes. Full time tunnel POP is a no-brainer.

      7. Right, Oran, I totally forgot my adjunct suggestion, the not-new idea of rush-hour off-board fare-checkers, with hand-held ORCA readers, controlling access to the back doors at the busiest downtown stops, thus allowing all-door board at the most congested times.

        And yes, RapidRide should be all-door boarding at all times. As was “promised.”

        Of course, please note above the latest egregious violations of things that RapidRide promised…

      8. I’ve seen fare enforcement checking the International District Platform for tickets, specifically people who jump off when they get on a train.

      9. Oh, and each time I was checked they got someone else. $124 per train is a pretty decent amount of “fare collection”. Probably as much as the people on the train that DID pay.

      10. Grant,

        Just because a fare evader gets caught doesn’t mean the $124 ticket eventually gets paid. The first time is a warning. After that, once someone gets a criminal trespass warning, what incentive do they really have to pay the fine? It might end up being converted to community service when they are brought before the judge and plee poverty.

      11. Brent, I don’t see anyone giving out warnings on the Swift. The county sheriff is writing people up like crazy and that fine will keep them from renewing their drivers license the next time around. Maybe if they’re riding the bus they don’t have a license but I’d bet that would be incentive to pay it.

        Stop and talk to the fare inspectors about the percentages. If being present makes more people pay (it’s currently having a huge impact on Swift but only after the Sheriff started getting really aggressive) then more money is made. If the number of evaders doesn’t go down and only a portion are actually being collected it’s still a win. One person out of 60 who pays their fine is equal to all 60 paying to get on the train/bus.

    2. “the end of the RFA is the end of hobos and hoodlums slowing down, stinking up and generally making every bus downtown unpleasant” Homeless people are not a significant problem on Seattle buses. And ending the RFA to stop the homeless from riding makes about as much sense as ending the free direction on the ferries for that reason. If they’re really sponging free rides out to the neighborhoods, then how do they get home?

      I think your real problem is sharing a bus with people you don’t like. The man that could use a shower and some deoderant. The woman that’s very drunk at 11am. The teenagers swearing at eachother loudly. They’ll all still be there when the RFA is gone – they still need a ride home.

      1. Sadly, you’re probably right for the hoodlums, who likely have (or can easily steal) the money to ride Metro once the RFA is gone. But every time I go through the RFA I see people get on, ride for a few blocks, and get off. Some are business people on lunch, some are tourists. But many more of them are homeless chronic drunks just looking for a ride down the street. Most of them may actually be going places, to shelters, soup kitchens, food banks or various agencies. But most of those destinations are downtown and are walkable—if one is sober enough to walk. And many more, I suspect, are just shuffling around. (This is why your ferry analogy is a poor one: many problem riders don’t pay in either direction, because they never leave the RFA.) And if forced to pay $2.25 or $2.50 for the lift, most of these riders would surely say, “Screw it, I can just walk there”. That money could buy another 24oz can of Steel Reserve, or could go toward the next score of crack or meth.

        I suspect you mean your second paragraph as some sort of indictment, but I will freely admit that my issue (I don’t see it as a “problem”) is indeed with sharing a bus with people I don’t like—or, more accurately, with people that I would never freely choose to spend time with, much less in close quarters. I don’t want to smell stale urine or fresh feces for 30 minutes, wondering the whole time how much of the aroma is wafting up from the very cushion I’m sitting on. I don’t want to listen to some unmedicated schizophrenic yelling about who or what she thinks is after her. Nor do I want to listen to teenagers swearing loudly, whether it’s at each other or at strangers minding their own business (the latter is far too common). And guess what? No one else wants to do any of those things either. And when faced with the choice of putting up with all that shit or getting into a car where one can control what one hears and smells, who one talks to or doesn’t, what temperature it is, etc, the vast majority of people who have the option will choose the car every single time.

        The funny thing is, I’m not much of a “choice rider”. I don’t even know how to drive, and even if I did I probably couldn’t afford a car. But I can walk just fine, and so if I’m at one end of Downtown and want to get to the other, I will almost invariably choose to walk. I’ll get a little sweaty or rained on, and it’ll take 30 minutes instead of the 5 or 10 that a bus would take, but for me, it’s a fair trade because I won’t have to deal with all the unpleasantness that comes with travelling through the RFA. Hell, if it’s a nice day I’ll choose an hour walk over a 20 minute bus ride most any day. And if I had a car, I’d probably choose to drive a lot too (and then plant some trees to assuage my guilt).

        I actually think the social justice role of transit is incredibly important, but I think its role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions or even in making streets safer for vulnerable users (by reducing traffic and the need for highway-like arterials) are just as important. And in order to meet those goals transit has to attract choice riders. You may not think the homeless are a problem on Seattle’s buses, but I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that if you ask the folks who every day choose to get into their cars why they don’t take Metro instead, the homeless will come up, especially if those people are headed Downtown.

      2. “But every time I go through the RFA I see people get on, ride for a few blocks, and get off. Some are business people on lunch, some are tourists. But many more of them are homeless chronic drunks just looking for a ride down the street. ”

        I would agree with that. From my experience downtown I think that there are more bums riding two stops than anything else. It seems that most of the people who are getting off downtown rode in from somewhere else. And most of the non-bums getting on stay on after we leave the RFA. I’m not sure if the RFA has done what people thought it would do. The 99 is an exception to this as it seems it’s almost all tourists and/or people who work on the waterfront. I’d vote to keeping it free.

      3. Andreas, totally.

        Please check out this interesting recent thread on Slog: http://www.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2011/08/24/what-are-those-signs-above-skillet-diner

        On the surface, it seems entirely unrelated, having nothing to do with transit or bums, but it’s symptomatic of the same problematic attitude.

        The crux of the matter is distilled in Keshmeshi’s comment @36. In short, there is a deeply anti-urban bias rooted in the suggest that “urban living” should mean being bombarded by the lowest common denominator 24/7. Or, more specifically, that “urban living” should mean you being bombarded by the lowest common denominator 24/7.

        In America’s less urban-in-form cities [coughcoughTHISONE], said “urban living,” be it fecal transit stink or unabated sonic assault, is presumed to be the domain of the young and the poor.

        Everyone presumes that some day they’ll “graduate” to a quasi-suburban bungalow in a quiet quasi-suburban neighborhood (North Capitol Hill, Wallingford), buy a car, and never look back. Even the young people currently extolling said transit stink and sonic assault believe they’ll one day leave it behind.

        It’s wrong, it’s backward, and it’s unacceptable. In cities where “urban life” is not expected to involve 24/7 exposure to the insufferable, it is not considered temporary. A minimum level of decorum on transit and an expectation that inhabitants of density adhere to a social contract are vital.

        (Pre-emptive refutation of the person who will inevitably chime in about [insert disgusting thing they saw on the NY subway that one time]: Yes, disgusting things happen everywhere. But even in NY, gross behavior is the exception, not the rule. On Metro it’s just commonplace!)

    3. “That’s the same number of people sleeping on the streets each night in Seattle as in the entire country of England.”

      The others are in social housing.

      1. I didn’t mean to suggest that London has fewer folks living in abject poverty or who can’t take care of themselves than Seattle. I mean, I’m fairly confident that they do in fact have fewer people, per capita, living that way, but I didn’t mean to suggest as much with that particular statistic. After all, Seattle has public housing as well. Perhaps our wonderfully tropical weather makes many of our statutory homeless folks choose to sleep outside, whereas the fog drives them indoors in good ol’ London town. Yes, that must be it.

      2. There are a LOT of people near Pioneer square sleeping at all hours. Seriously when is the last time a non-bum has been able to utilize the little park 4th ave and dilling way? Also note the gender of the people sleeping in the parks and then note the gender of the homeless shelter in the area. THEN note where the womens shelter is located (Othello) and add them all up. Cleaning up Pioneer square isn’t a complex thing to do. Everyone needs a place to go and services should be available too. Just don’t put homeless shelters in your tourist district if you care about tourist dollars. It’s not complex.

  8. Is there a potential cost savings in combining ticket machines and parking meters into one single machine with duel functionality? Perhaps, parking meters could even accept Orca cards as a form of payment. This way, people who drive downtown frequently, but only ride the bus downtown occasionally might be able to justify getting a card. Especially, if the increased demand for Orca cards pushed the need to make obtaining them easier.

    1. They need to just hire a different company to build the TVMs. My company has done kiosks a great deal more complex than a TVM for a great deal less money. I don’t think the TVM is really all that complex, it has 3 buttons, a credit card reader, a printer and I’d an internet connection. On top of that it’s clear they did no usability testing as the interface is horrible.

      1. A TVM is not complex. The hardware components only add up to around $300. An ISO-7816 reader/writer (for ORCA) only adds about $40 to the hardware price tag. A cash handling device would probably be the single most expensive component, and might bump the hardware costs over $400.

        We should publish some specs and start taking bids to build a couple thousand. A Chinese manufacturer collaborating with a Indian programming house could probably offer us a unit price under $1000 for a TVM/ORCA kiosk, so long as we promised to buy a thousand or so.

        This is assuming that the vendor could jump through whatever software licensing hoops they’d need to in order to work with our MIFARE DESFire system. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if a huge chunk of the $50,000 ORCA kiosk price is NXP Semiconductor’s licensing fee for the MIFARE.

      2. Good lord, it’s an 8051 with a crypto accelerator so hardware isn’t costing them anything. Looks like MiFire has the mass majority of the marketshare.

        So does NXP/MiFire make our kiosks? Does anyone else make compatible kiosks?

      3. NXP/MiFare does NOT manufacture any ticket vending machines.

        The Sound Transit ticket vending machines are made by Scheidt & Bachmann.

        So yeah, you can put together a bunch of cheap components and call it a TVM but is it reliable? Can it handle thousands of transactions everyday? Is it durable against vandalism and various weather & environmental conditions? Is the construction secure enough to store cash safely and prevent theft?

    2. The potential cost savings in finding a vendor who doesn’t add a >500% markup to the machine price dwarfs the cost savings from combining the machines.

  9. Here’s what I really fear about the idea of placing SWIFT-style TVMs around downtown, dispensing time-stamped bus tickets:

    Unlike Metro, CT has stopped accepting non-ORCA transfers. That includes not allowing SWIFT tickets to be used as transfers.

    Since Metro won’t get rid of paper transfers, people who purchase them downtown and transfer will have to have their ticket inspected by the next driver at the time of entering the bus. The good news is that Metro already acknowledges this as a problem for paper transfers (even though it isn’t).

    I’d rather just see the revenue-positive ways of incentivizing ORCA e-purse use be instituted, and accept that some fraction of riders will fumble cash and hold up buses downtown a few seconds. At least with all-door entry, they won’t be holding up the whole line.

    1. The goal here is to speed up bus boarding. Holding up buses for the sake of pushing ORCA use is unacceptable. Even in cities with 80% smart card use, they still have ticket machines, because seconds DO matter.

      If there’s a problem with hard to read tickets, redesign them with easier to read text instead of getting rid of them altogether. Time-stamped tickets have less fraud potential than the generic recycling letter-color transfers.

      1. Let’s see if the ORCA VM’s can print out more legible train and bus tickets. As Velo pointed out, the train tickets need improvement in legibility.

  10. “Since Metro won’t get rid of paper transfers, people who purchase them downtown and transfer will have to have their ticket inspected by the next driver at the time of entering the bus.”

    This is not an issue. The time on the Swift tickets is a lot larger than the time on a transfer. Just make it big, have people hold it up on entry.

    “Unlike Metro, CT has stopped accepting non-ORCA transfers. That includes not allowing SWIFT tickets to be used as transfers.”

    This however is ridiculous. I understand not giving out transfers because it slows down boarding (although it doesn’t really, paying by cash does and people still do that even if they don’t get a transfer). However taking a transfer doesn’t really slow down boarding and for CT to make it possible to get a ticket (Swift TVM) without slowing down boarding and not take it without slowing down boarding is stupid. Really it is.

    On the Swift ticket it also says only good for one ride within that time even though there’s no way of enforcing it.

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