To be sustainable or not to be sustainable? That seems to be TriMet’s question. On their Web site they state, “We’re making fares easier to read, easier to use!” To me, this translates into, “We’re using a lot more paper and spending a lot of money on installing new fare-machine enhancements!”
To be sustainable or not to be sustainable? That seems to be TriMet’s question.
On their Web site they state, “We’re making fares easier to read, easier to use!” To me, this translates into, “We’re using a lot more paper and spending a lot of money on installing new fare-machine enhancements!”
Using public transportation is always a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. It cuts down on traffic, saves gas money and relieves a bit of the dependency on oil. However, if the corporations who run public transit are not making green decisions, what is the point?
TriMet is pumping up their passes with a lot more paper and ink. Beginning this month, passes will be more of a credit-card size. TriMet is also modifying the fare validating machines to accommodate the larger passes.
A big question on everyone’s mind is: Will the old tickets still be usable? The answer is yes … sort of. The Web site cautions riders that the new fare validating machines will be built for wider tickets, so the old, more narrow tickets may have some trouble going through. And they urge passengers to also use up tickets “very soon,” a sign that they will not be accepted for much longer.
The new tickets will be larger, but have less information on them, something that doesn’t make much sense to me. Of course, the print will be much larger, giving drivers the excuse to only glance at the passes to see that they are still valid (something most drivers already do). These shiny new passes will also have security features printed on them, like paper money, so they cannot be counterfeited.
Are these passes beginning to sound a little fascist yet? What’s next, an invisible fence around Fareless Square that shocks you if you try to ride out of it without paying?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that people who try to ride the bus without paying are right. I do think that the methods that TriMet are resorting to are a bit extreme. If they are that concerned about getting their money, there are much less expensive and much more sustainable ways to go about this.
These tickets are a bad idea for a few reasons: One, they use more paper. True, paper is recyclable, but wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to use so much paper in the first place? Just because something is recyclable doesn’t mean we should start overusing it.
Two, the cost to implement this new and “improved” system will more than likely start trickling down into what we pay for fares. This will mean increased rates at a time when most cannot afford even the slightest increase in public transit.
And three, there are other ways to accomplish what TriMet is trying to do while still maintaining sustainability and cost-friendly measures. Some of these are already being put into operation in other regions.
Many users of public transportation have spoken out against this new policy, and given great ideas as alternatives. One idea is the use of smart cards. These are reusable cards that can be scanned on the bus, online, in transit centers and other locations.
They can be reloaded for as much as the rider wants–for one ride or for an entire month of riding. They are quickly scanned into a small machine on the bus and the driver knows immediately if the fare is good or not. This would save time, eliminate the driver having to scrutinize every piece of paper shoved in their face, and promote sustainability through the use of reusable passes.
Portland State University’s flex pass is similar to this. With flex passes, you get a small sticker on your student ID, which tells the driver that your pass is good and when it expires. Perhaps this could be an alternative–a sticker to place on a form of ID etc., that is simplified to tell the driver just when your pass is invalid. The main point here is that other areas have come up with feasible ideas, so there is no reason that TriMet could not follow suit.
The idea of public transportation is fantastic, and at its heart it is economical and sustainable. TriMet should continue in this spirit and work toward better ways of ensuring passenger integrity and the environmental good.