Ticket machine troubles trip up honest TriMet MAX riders

Ticket machine troubles trip up honest TriMet MAX riders »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. - It's the mid-afternoon rush on north Portland’s Yellow MAX Line and passengers are trying - and failing - to buy a ticket to ride the train.

Eric Dexter stands at a ticket machine and tries to pay his fare to no avail.

“It says ‘out of order’ and it's not working, the buttons stopped working, the screen's frozen,” Dexter observes. The ticket machine won't take cash or a credit card.

Other passengers say they have had similar experiences.

“I got a ticket this morning for not getting a [fare] ticket, and the thing was broke,” Classie Moore said. Her ticket for not having proof of a $2 fare is $115.

It’s becoming a common story: passengers, who want to do the right thing and buy a ticket, but can't.
Rindy Barr got a warning from fare inspectors after trying unsuccessfully to buy a ticket from a broken machine and then boarding a train anyway.

“I'm a fair MAX rider, pay my fare,” Barr said. “It was upsetting they were going to give me a ticket and gave me a warning because their machines were broken.”
Last year, TriMet said it was working to have 95 percent of its ticket machines in working order.

Of the 30 machines KATU News checked, 12 were broken. That is 40 percent.
On two platforms, both machines were out of order. Three others said if you didn't have cash, you couldn't buy a ticket.
TriMet said it aims to have nearly all of its machines working by the end of the month by adding more technicians to repair them.
Does TriMet have a target percentage of machines they want working?

“You know, we're trying to figure out what is the measurement,” TriMet spokesperson Mary Fetsch said. “Our goal is to have a working ticket vending machine on every platform.”

Hadley Price even started a website where riders can report broken ticket machines.

“There's a certain percentage of machines they're aiming to have online,” Price said. “I don't personally think they've hit it, nor does anyone else if they think so maybe they're somewhat delusional.”

TriMet maintains things are getting better, saying it just seems more ticket machines are broken a lot more lately, especially in the recent weeks.

TriMet claims that about 90 percent of riders pay their fares.