Riders unhappy with TriMet's solution when fare machines broken

Riders unhappy with TriMet's solution when fare machines broken

PORTLAND, Ore. – More MAX riders tell KATU News they're being unfairly ticketed because it's impossible to buy a ticket at some stops.

But ticket officers have no sympathy.

Causing all the fuss is the ticket machines that sometimes don't work. So folks get on the trains anyway thinking they have a good reason for having no ticket.

It happened to Sean Derry and his father on Saturday night on the way to the Timbers game. He says there were no working ticket machines at the Millikan MAX stop. So not knowing what to do, they got on anyway.

When they got off the MAX at Jeld-Wen Field, the TriMet ticket officers on the platform would not listen and wrote them both $175 tickets.

"So we went up there, explained our situation, and they pulled out the ticket books and wrote my Dad and I (tickets)," Derry said.

Derry says for TriMet passengers, there's a better way to deal with the problem.

"The spirit of the law kind of says, 'Hey, as an officer I understand why you did that. Here we have the ticket booth right here. You need to pay for a ticket. We're not going to write you a ticket but understand, next time, you need to stop at each one of those stations.'"

Those stations? On its website TriMet tells riders if there are no working ticket machines, they need to stop at each MAX station on their route until they find a working machine and purchase their ticket.

Derry argues that TriMet should put a notice on the machine's electronic screens that passengers need to go to the next stop and buy a ticket. (Currently, what is displayed is: "Sorry, this machine is temporarily out of service.")

"Just because if it's not there, people aren't going to do it, and then you're getting tickets for something, that just doesn't seem right," he said.

KATU did find a machine at Northeast 60th that had been out-of-order for 19 hours (and counting) even though maintenance had been notified, according to TriMet's Twitter feed.

It was bad news for commuter Amy Fisher who couldn't pay. She wasn't willing to get off at every MAX stop until she could buy a ticket.

"And get fired from work because I'm late every day? I don't think so," she said.

So she rode the MAX to work anyway with no ticket.

She said it wasn't the first time a faulty machine meant she had to risk getting a ticket.

According to TriMet, it has crews working two shifts a day to care for machines. In a statement TriMet said the ticket machines are reliable 92 percent of the time and it is currently working to replace 120 of the oldest ticket machines in service. Once it does, every ticket machine will be five years old or newer.

We learned about this story through a news tip. If there's news in your neighborhood, email us at newstips@katu.com.