Big news around the world these days – elections in Libya, raging wildfires, little old ladies dying after meeting the president – but these all pale in significance when set against the headlines right here in our little town. In the midst of all the human toil and activity on this teeming planet of ours, one thing seems to remain constant: TriMet can’t figure out how to make their ticket machines work.
My Twitter feed is blown up daily with urgent missives to the transit agency’s HQ: “hey, trimet, ticket machine at Beaverton Central doesn’t work.” “FUCKING TICKET MACHINES.” “How can I take the ride if I can’t buy a ticket?” Even renowned professional commuting blogger Joe Rose couldn’t buy tickets the other day. If @pdxcommute can’t buy tickets… who the hell can? (As a side note, I’m mildly disturbed that a commuting blogger isn’t given a transit pass by his employer, but who am I to judge?)
A little digging reveals a couple of things. First, whoever tweets for TriMet doesn’t get paid enough. Seriously, in the limited conversations I’ve had back-channel with the PR folks who do the job, it’s an afterthought, and the definition of thankless task. I have suggested that they create a 100K-per-year position of TweetMaster and hire me in some kind of patronage scam. I have yet to receive formal rejection, but I can imagine it’s on the backburner due to recent budget strife. “One less driver, 800 more tweets” does not win hearts and minds. Regardless, I’d kick ass at that job. “WALK IF YOU CAN’T TAKE THE TIME TO BUY TICKETS IN ADVANCE, DUMBASS,” would be one of the cut-and-paste zingers I’d have ready. “Take a chance… that big scary fare inspector might be on another line! Chicken?” would be another.
Further digging shows that TriMet’s budget for giving a shit about ticket machines is equivalent to the one for ripping that goddammed poetry out of the trains, which is zippo. Your complaints are futile. They go to the same place that your gripes about that guy with his bags all over the seats go – TriMet purgatory. Your old umbrella is there, too. They’ll fix the ticket machines when Fred Hansen’s pension runs out, which is never. Did you know that after Fred Hansen dies, his termination contract with TriMet includes a provision to leave a small cash slot in his marble tomb? You do now!
We’ve been promised cool futuristic stuff that will drag TriMet into the year 2007, like being able to use your phone to buy and display fares. Yeah, that’ll work. You people can’t even get Angry Birds to load.