Mistakes, large and small, are made every day. How we react to them is always an important step in improving our lives. Questions about the light rail fare structure and fare enforcement continue to create confusion.
Sean Holstege’s article on fare enforcement, or lack thereof, in today’s paper has caused quite a reaction. Several very interesting points were made concerning revenue and employer-subsidized passes. I believe that many of the errors related to employer-subsidized passes have to do with education. It appears that many are unaware of the need to validate the passes before boarding the rail. From the article we find, however:
In February, for example, Metro gave away 174,000 rides, or 19 percent of total rides, because of subsidized-pass problems, agency records show. That share declined to 15 percent in March and 10 percent in April.
In the last couple of months, I personally have seen a large increase in the amount of tickets checked on trains. In fact, I can recall being checked three times in one day last month. There is an officer on many Tempe trains, and I spoke to him last week about the hand-held machine he carries to check the pass and was told it can verify if the card was recently swiped at a station. While he is normally the only officer on the train at a time, Phoenix occasionally has three officers per train checking passes. Kind of seems like overkill, but it must be working given the numbers in the paragraph above and below.
“The percentage of riders inspected doubled from January to April, to 16 percent, and the number of citations rose from 13 to 148. Cardholders who don't tap the readers upon boarding face fines of up to $500.”
I think it’s that “tap” that’s getting people.
Technical glitches have also come up with the fare vending machines and Metro CEO Rick Simonetta appears to take this pretty seriously.
It will be interesting to watch the “fare wars” as we move forward. Stick around, we will try to keep up!
David SB says
There are a few things that METRO Light Rail could do to enhance “tapping” compliance:
Short term — Put in more dedicated pass readers. I try to be a good boy and tap consistently, but if a train is pulling into the station and I’ve got a first-time passenger in front of me in line trying to figure out the ticket machines, I might just “forget” to tap. Dedicated pass readers are needed most urgently at 44th St. / Washington and Central / Camelback.
Long term — How about an RFID system so that tapping is no longer necessary? The rail cars could simply sense a passenger’s presence on board and and bill the correct employer accordingly.