#4 MAX Train Freeloaders

img_1652.jpgThe MAX commuter light rail train first opened its sliding doors to the Hillsboro/Portland communities in 1986. Since then, MAX has expanded its reach to Gresham, Beaverton and the North Portland communities. As of 2008, there are 3 lines (Blue, Red and Yellow) operating basically free service (except if you pay taxes) to each suburban sprawl. From its original concept, Trimet has grown the MAX line service to over 100 different light rail trains. These trains conveniently provide transportation and shelter for anyone whose looking for some cheap fun and fare evasion. If you ask any Portlander about this transportation wonder of the world, they might respond, “Oh, yeah, it’s pretty cool… BUT,” and the bitching begins. (Please note that the people bitching have probably never paid a full MAX train fare.)

Let me state, that the MAX train looks impressive on the outside, but its what’s on the inside that kills the system. Without an easy way to check proper proof of payment, ANY person/thing/Quad City DJ can c’ mon n’ ride this train. You’ll never see someone thrown out with the appropriate, “No, Ticket!”* cry.

You will find bums working in their nap time, and a leering group of gentlemen staring you down. Crime has thus run rampant on the Blue line. Homeless won’t even move from the more comfortable disabled seats as directed by the tiny print. Little-to-no security this Old West atmosphere. Look out little buckaroo, or you’ll get your face beaten in! If you enjoy a shady trip to death town, feel free to hop on the Blue line MAX train from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. The system is broken, and Trimet must fix this issue by increasing their security and reducing fareless zones.

*originally this quote is made by Dr. Jones in the 1989 hit movie classic Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Later, Dogma, a equally impressive action-comedy, featuring a bunch of crappy actors, would revive the quote by a character titled “Silent Bob”

17 thoughts on “#4 MAX Train Freeloaders

  1. From Milwaukie to PDX Airport and back – two fare checkers at 82nd, 2 at Chinatown (two freeloading scumbags tosssed off), lot of hop-on, hop-off freeloaders downtone from block to block, at Milwaukie Main two transit cops had five freeloading a-holes against the fence – all in all it was a very good day to ride. Punks might want to be careful these days – a lot of riders have concealed carry permits..

  2. I am just reading this blog and feel compelled to add my Max experiences.

    Until a recent lay-off, I rode the Max everyday to go to and from work in Beaverton.

    An inspector or actual police officer usually came on board to check fares 1-2 times per week during my ride times at that job.

    I have seen numerous people kicked off the Max for invalid fare issues (though rarely for unruly and/or violent behavior – go figure)

    I usually had my fare but on occasion would not nostly due to the malfunction of fare machines and ticket validaters. This is a common issue that only recently was I told can be explained to the Max operator who will then hopefully report the malfunction and back up your story to any inspector or cop that boards.

    Of the approximately 800 times of riding the Max (over 3 years of ridership) and approximately 160 fare checks during this time, I experienced multiple machine failures and charges on my debit card without receiving the ticket. 5 times I have been “caught” without a “valid” fare.

    Of those 5, only once was due to my not outright paying for the fare and was during my first few months of riding the Max. The other 4? All machine malfunctions. One ticket was reduced when I appeared while one I did not appear. The other 2 I have the fine officers of the Beaverton police force to thank.

    These last 2 tickets were by far the worst experience I ever had while riding ANY transit system.

    When I got off the Red Line at Beaverton Transit Center one day, I showed what I thought was my valid fare. The inspector passed me along and then changed their mind and asked me to return and re-show my fare. I complied without an issue then she said that it had expired. I was surprised and then went looking for the correct pass in my messenger bag (I was buying them by the week then). While I was doing this, one of Beaverton’s “finest” decided to take the situation over and told the inspector he would “handle” it. He was caustic from the start and refused to allow me to look for the correct pass (which I later found at work). He issued me a ticket and made me late to work.

    About a couple weeks later this same officer came aboard at the Sunset Transit Center and was checking fares. I had purchased the multiple ticket option the night before and had several tickets on me. What I did not realize in my rush to get on (it appears most operators are quick to close the doors and don’t allow them to re-open) was that the ticket validater did not punch the time stamp (or I perhaps dropped it in my hurry, I was never 100% sure).

    I attempted to explain the situation but was told to get off the Max. I also tried to explain that this would make me late to work. He did not want to hear any of it and continually interrupted and cajoled me. I was pretty angry at this point since I thought that I had proven my purchase of the tickets and I did not wish to lose my job. This was construed as hostility and I was PLACED UNDER ARREST! (This was before any ticket was issued and before he realized he had stopped me before.) I was not allowed to call anyone, was not allowed my medication (all off which was promised would happen at the station) and later I was taken to Washington County Jail.

    The “lawyer” I was given kept telling me that transit cases are lost causes and really did not encourage me to pursue the case. In the report the officer outright lied about most of the “facts” and so I felt compelled to settle. The settlement? Over $800 in fines and a weekend of community service at a graveyard.

    So much for justice.

    While I know there are “freeloaders” who ride the Max and get away with it, my experience has been that most (attempt to) pay and many innocent people are ticketed and forced off the rail.

    I think that one solution would be to have the machines on the Max just like the Streetcar. They may still malfunction, but at least if an inspector comes on board to check, they can make the person pay at the machine (or get off and issue a ticket if they refuse).

  3. It’s so sad to me that people will only do the right thing either for a reward or to avoid punishment. We shouldn’t have to have strict fare-checkers aboard every MAX, people should pay the fare simply BECAUSE IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO! It starts with good parenting (which also need not include punishments or rewards of any kind to be effective, mostly modeling values and staying connected inspires kids to grow up into people who don’t steal – even if nobody would know – THEY know and would feel WRONG.)

  4. Though you may be partially correct about the lack of inspectors and the fact that free loaders take advantage of the system, you are wrong about “homeless” not moving for disabled. They always move for me though they may leave the seat a bit smelly. As for panhandlers, just ring the bell or tell the driver and they will be threatened in to submission. I have seen inspectors plenty of times but it still isn’t enough. The only problem is the more inspectors the more it costs to run the bitch and a couple tickets here and there aren’t going to pay for increased security costs. they shouldn’t wear those bright green vests either because everyone who tries to ride free knows to just look for the vests at the stops and get off if one is getting on. They should have a dude that rides the train in low profile security gear from one end to the next and asks every third or fourth person for proof of ticket. If people see that happen regularly they will start to respect the fair.

  5. My biggest beef is the spangers on the Max. I am on it for barely 10 minutes to and from work everyday and I am harassed for change every time. It doesn’t matter if I’m reading, have headphones on or being eaten alive by zombies, it never f**king fails.

  6. It should be noted that this blog entry was written around the start (if my memory serves me correctly) of the MAX crime pandemic. Elderly being blugeoned into intensive care, race-related assaults involving multiple perpetrators against one victim, etc. At the time I’m writing this (9-12-08) its tapered off slightly but you still see/read a horrible news story at least once a month.

    “Person with a soul”… where the f**k do you live?????

  7. the author is a classist piece of s**t, and ought to be flogged with a rotting turd… to the MAXX
    I hope the homebums show no mercy to the legions of tepid North West liberals/beurocrats; they are a sad bunch indeed.

  8. Back in the early 90s, fare hopping was very uncommon on Trimet MAX and buses because they had frequent fare checkers hopping aboard buses and onto MAX platforms, handing out warnings for first-time offenders and tickets for the rest. They were very strict and unapologetic, and the system worked. I was given 1 warning once, and I never cheated the system again (well, a few scarce times when running late or short of money).

  9. I’ve not been thrown off, but did get “cited” after departing the train one stop after fareless square because I was nose deep in a book. I could not cough up either a ticket, or enough money to prove I could buy one, therefore I was given a $75 ticket.
    The Fare inspector was a complete jackhole, and basically said I was a freeloading loser, even though I explained that I was not a frequent user of the Max and wasn’t familiar with the routes (which was 100% true), but was a heavy user of the buses and always paid my fare, sometimes more.
    I’ve ridden the Max over 100 times now, and have only seen Fare Inspectors about 6 times.

  10. Never seen anyone thrown off either. But I have been made to feel uncomfortable almost 95% of the time when traveling through downtown.

  11. The Max originally went from Downtown to Gresham. Later they added the line to Hillsboro, then North Portland.

  12. I have ridden the Max probably 20 times and no one has ever been thrown off so you are NOT an idiot. and you are totally correct about the MAX. It is a freeloaders heaven. It should either be free, or they should have a better system.

  13. I have rode the Max like 50 times in my life, and have seen someone thrown off almost every single trip. You make some valid points about P-town, but mostly you’re an idiot.

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