As has been reported many other places, Today (3 January 2009) Trimet switched from the current fareless square to the fareless rail zone and this is one Trimet change I’m in favor of. It has a variety of benefits and a few costs.
- Continues to provide a large area that is accessible during a large part of the day quickly and without a vehicle. This doesn’t mean it’s a large enough area or that it doesn’t need to expand out to include a larger part of the east side. I think the simplest way to extend it now is to go fareless on the Portland Streetcar. Couple this with the expected eastside streetcar on MLK/Grand and you would have a large area that you never even need to think about driving.
- No longer requiring bus drivers to kick people off for not having paid a fare. Every time I’ve seen a bus driver put in this situation of being forced to tell someone “pay or get off”, you can tell it’s the part of their job they hate. Now they won’t have to do that.
- Buses will no longer need to stop for fare inspectors. It’s rare, but it does happen and now these fare inspectors can focus on the MAX, where there is a big fare evasion problem. I for one would really like to see fare inspectors on the MAX much more often
- 5% of trips that can currently be taken for free, now can’t. According to Trimet when they announced this decision in August:
We estimate that about 95% of the trips currently taken within Fareless Square can easily be taken on the future Green Line on the Mall, on the existing Blue/Red MAX line on Morrison and Yamhill, and on the Streetcar. Nearly every destination in Fareless Square will be served by MAX or Streetcar within 3 or 4 blocks.We estimate that about 95% of the trips currently taken within Fareless Square can easily be taken on the future Green Line on the Mall, on the existing Blue/Red MAX line on Morrison and Yamhill, and on the Streetcar. Nearly every destination in Fareless Square will be served by MAX or Streetcar within 3 or 4 blocks.
Source: Trimet Press Release August 12, 2009
- Service frequency for free is greatly diminished. While the Max runs frequent enough during the day, after 10pm your options for what used to be the free bus mall are extremely limited. You can get a train (at the start of the line, PSU/SW 6th & Montgomery MAX Station) at: 10:02, 10:10, 10:32, 10:40, 11:02. 11:10, 11:32, 11:40 and 12:10. That’s it. That means you can not get from PSU to old town without paying a fare after midnight on weeknights and you might be waiting 22min (which is enough to walk the entire way) for a train at other times. This just isn’t frequent enough in my opinion
Overall, I am for the change and hope that it increases fare inspection on the Max. If that happens, this will be a win for Trimet riders. Hopefully we’ll get lucky and see that happen.