Yesterday, riding the MAX Blue Line to Hillsboro, a fare inspector got on. As usual, this was after the Millikan Way stop. (I'll get to that later) I was sitting in the rear section of the rear car. Two seats in front of me, there was a rider without proof of payment.
When asked where his fare was, the rider said that he had a yearly pass. However, he had left his wallet at home, and so did not have it on his person. The rider then gave his name, Tom Wolf, as if the inspector could verify this. The inspector then asked where the rider worked. The rider said that he worked over at the Merlo. "Well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow then," said the inspector. The inspector departed the train, and that was that.
Regular MAX riders should be floored by this exchange. Typically, the rider in question would have been described to some dispatcher by the inspector: stated name and physical description. At the next stop, the rider would be asked to step off and issued a warning or fine. Then, would have to purchase a ticket to get on the next train.
The difference here, Mr. Wolf is a white, middle-aged business man.
One of the unwritten rules of the West-Side MAX is that if the ratio of Latinos to Whites weighs in favor of Latinos, then there will be a fare inspection. If the weather is could, and a shabbily dressed person is sleeping on the MAX, then there will be a fare inspection. If there is "unruly" behavior by young people, then there will be a fare inspection.
If there is an unruly crowd on their way to see a professional sports event, then the fare inspectors will smile as that train rides by. Wealthy people got to those events, and Tri-Met would not want to anger one of them by putting them through the process of fare inspection.
These are things that I have witnessed as one rider in the past year. Surely more goes on. Is anyone else compiling data so we can do something about it?