At yesterday's transportation committee meeting, I had an opportunity to talk light rail with a couple of people that really know their stuff when it comes to transportation in the valley. This months meeting was actually a joint meeting with a "government relations" committee so we spoke very little of transit as an "official" topic but did get to hear some really interesting stuff from Ken Bennett and from Mayor Hugh Hallman.
It is fun for me to talk to people before during and after these meetings from Metro, the city, attorneys etc that are very involved in the process. A few of my highlights yesterday were talking about the projected ridership demand expected to be "a couple thousand" a day higher for February than from the last months ridership numbers. Unfortunately, I didn't write down the exact projection so, shoot me if I am off but that is what I remember as part of a conversation.
We also discussed some concern in the fare collection department. This was a timely discussion for me as I had been asked via Twitter about how the security guards will know if students tap their U-Pass card prior to boarding. This was right about the time when the cool article from ASUwebdevil titled Fines in store for riders who don't tap pass came out. The concern is the lack of education or awareness for ASU students and for employees who ride for "free" or for discounted rates via ASU or their employer. It appears people don't realize the importance of tapping their card EVERY time they board a train. Not doing so is the equivalent of "fare evasion" which can get you a fine of $50 – $500.00!
Some students and employees don't realize that a fare is charged to their card for each ride. In fact, the "parking and transportation" department at ASU mentions that it sets aside approximately $2 million per year to pay for the passes. New, hand held devices will be used by Metro security patrol allowing them to scan a card to see if it has been tapped at the fare collection station on the train platform. It is extremely important for each rider to "pay" ( be counted etc) for each ride so that the trips can be billed correctly.
Shocking, I know… there really isn't such thing as a "free" ride.
please note: RailLife.com is not affiliated with Metro.
David SB says
I have an employer-provided transit pass. I try to tap it before each ride, but I occasionally skip tapping to avoid missing a train. So far, every fare insepctor I’ve encountered has only glanced at the pass and not run it through a hand-held machine to check for validation. If enforcement is going to be strengthened, there are two issues I wonder about:
1) The dedicated pass targets at some of the busier stations need to be fixed. Usually, the orange targets on those machines tell me I don’t have a valid pass, but the orange targets on the ticket machines acknowledge my pass. Pass holders are less likely to bypass tapping the target if all of the readers are working for them.
2) Sometimes I’ll arrive at a station and find the only available ticket machine is being monopolized by a first-time rider who is proceeding slowly. I always wonder if I reach over and tap my card against the target, will I somehow disrupt the first-time rider’s ticket purchase?
I know the answer to David SB’s 2nd question firsthand: tapping a pass while when another person is purchasing a pass will interrupt the purchase transaction. Had this happen while trying to buy an all-day pass; having to start from scratch didn’t slow me down enough to miss the train but it was annoying nevertheless.
David SB says
Rehab — Thanks for the tip. With that in mind, I promise not to tap when someone else is at the machine.
Jason Tailor says
Wow, I never knew that Metro ridership numbers strong, fare collection needs education. That’s pretty interesting…