By Associated Press • 

Fare turnstiles coming to 2 Portland light-rail stations

PORTLAND — After decades of operating on the honor system at its light-rail stations, TriMet plans to install turnstiles at two stations on the soon-to-open Orange Line.

The Oregonian reports that the turnstiles will come once the regional mass transit agency's $30 million e-fare system goes live in 2017.

TriMet planners opted against pay-to-enter fare gates back in the 1980s, deciding they would cost too much and conflict with Portland's neighborly reputation. But electronic-ticketing technology and concerns about lost fare revenue have TriMet taking a different approach on the Orange Line that will run to the Portland suburb of Milwaukie.

“The community has been asking us to look into doing this in some locations,” Dave Unsworth, deputy director of the Orange Line project, told the newspaper. “We try to listen, believe it or not.”

TriMet estimates a fare-evasion rate of 10 percent. By comparison, the rates on closed-station rail systems with turnstiles in New York and Washington, D.C., are less than 2 percent.

Visitors and recent transplants are often surprised by the lack of turnstiles. Riders are trusted to buy a ticket before entering, but many don't bother. Fare inspectors are an infrequent sight, and savvy cheats just hop off if they see one getting aboard.

“It doesn't feel right — just letting anyone on the street step on a train with or without a pass,” said Alex Campbell, a 29-year-old computer programmer who moved to Portland from New York in 2012. “As someone who has taken public transit my whole life, I guess I'd feel better with some sort of barrier in place.”

Scheduled to open Sept. 12, the Orange Line's 10 stops have been wired to maximize what TriMet sees as a future of reloadable electronic tap cards and smartphone tickets stored in the computing cloud.

The Orange Line's stops all have clearly delineated fare zones. But in order for TriMet to install gates, an e-fare system needs to be in place to activate and open the devices.

“This is just a test,” Unsworth said. “But if the pilot proves successful, we can see this being easily implemented with e-fare at stations like Washington Park, Sunset and Hollywood.”

He added, however, that it would be nearly impossible for the agency to install turnstiles at many existing street-level stations.


Information from: The Oregonian,

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