portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary portland metro

anti-racism | bikes/transportation | government

MAX Fare Inspector Breaks Unwritten Rule

Fare inspectors tend to avoid heading into the stops between downtown Portland and Beaverton Transit Center. Yet, Sunday, one broke this unwritten rule.
Sunday, at 10 AM, I was waiting at the Beaverton Transit Center MAX Station. One of the worst fare inspectors was at the station, and I believed that I would have to deal with him on my trip to Hillsboro.

Things went to put him in a bad mood. A bicycle rider was coasting his bike off the platform. The inspector was going to ticket the guy, but the cyclist just sped out of the station, leaving the inspector in the dust. I could see that he was in a bad mood because "he had been ignored."

The MAX to Gresham showed up, and the inspector got on. At first, I thought it was just to intimidate some people off, but he stayed on. I was shocked. Yet, I believe I have some to terms. Allow me to explain.

One must consider the time. It was Sunday at 10 AM. Most people on a MAX that early are not affluent whites. There are poor whites. Poor hispanics. Working people, who don't have the luxury of a weekend.

Since I work retail, I know that most rich whites don't show up at the store until noon. Even then, most don't take mass transit to get there. On the weekdays, they frequent stops like the Sunset Transit Center because there is a parking garage for their SUV's, but this is the weekend. Those rulse don't apply.

Furthermore, on the trip to work on Saturday, three inspectors got on the train. I asked what they were doing inside of the Milikan Way boundary. They said that they do it all the time. I responded with the statistics of how impossible it would be that I have seen it only once before in a year of riding.

Well, it looks like they're fixing the odds.

However, if you're like a student I met that never buys a pass out of downtown, then remember you have to get off at Sunset Transit Center. They don't investigate there on the weekday.

The inspector in this article is tall and thin. He's white. (aren't they all?) He has black hair and beard. He wears glasses. He's also likely to wear shorts, but he wasn't on this occasion. If you want a funny reaction out of him, then ask him why he's a racist.
I don't think you know what you're talking about 07.Mar.2005 12:17

jason

My wife commutes every day to the Merlo Road/158th stop--a few past Beaverton Transit Center--and she sees fair inspectors between Beaverton Transit center and downtown all the time. I've seen them myself multiple times at the zoo stop and the Sunset transit center.

I always think of Beaverton Transit center as one of the most common places to run into fair inspectors because so many high school age riders use it and pricks like to harrass young people because it's easy. At least this is true on weekdays.

Anyway, the Max should be free anyway--we all pay for it with taxes and they only get about 13% of theie revenue from fares.

Huh? 07.Mar.2005 22:29

yoyodada

The Fair Inspectors are in that area ALL the time. They get assigned to specific areas and routes. I ride MAX through that area all the time and they are on the trains many times. Most a very friendly, and just doing there job which needs to be done...otherwise every dirtbag in town would be riding back forth all day and living on the trains.....

Get a reality check!

hey, life sucks, but get real 08.Mar.2005 00:28

Teddy Ruxpin (The Lousy Typist)

It sucks that the MAX is not free, but the money is just not there yet. They actually NEED that 13% of their budget that they get from ticket sales right now, or they have to cut service (which will be replaced by cars).

So we have inspectors to make sure deadbeats pay up. It is not racism; the ticket machines do not charge blacks more than whites, monthly passes do not have racial slurs printed on them and bus fair is not more in NoPo than in Beaverton. We all have to pay to ride the bus and MAX. We either have to contribute to the society in which we live, or we have to grab a knife and move off into the mountains, thus not using society's services that all the other people are paying for.

... 08.Mar.2005 05:22

...

Money is just paper. It's a hokey system that was invented by human beings and doesn't work very well or make very much sense. Is there some convenient mathematical or economic principle that makes sure that there will be the right amount of products and services available at any given moment to correspond to the amount of money people are trying to "spend" at that moment? No, there isn't. The mass media exist largely to drive "demand" and turn "consumers" into the same kind of dependable machines that are churning out a clockwork-like supply of stuff every day. The MAX is one of the parts of the machine that facilitates the dispersal and hence the disorganization of the workforce. It'd be a lot harder to separate and eliminate uppity workers if they all lived across the street from their jobs. Is it discriminatory to charge the same fare to everybody whether they're making $300 a week or $3000? Is it racist to acknowledge racist behavior by public officials in the past but never the present? How many times does an institution have to get caught lying before it's no longer a credible source of information? Does it matter whether you can prove "intent"?

They are not all white 08.Mar.2005 08:34

proudwolf

I ride the Max Yellow Line to and form work every day. I have seen several non-white fare inspectors. In fact I would say around 40% of the inspectors are non-white. While I won't rule out that the Yellow Line is run differently than the Red or Blue line, I suspect that race is not a factor in the selection of what inspector monitors any specific line.

Your fare inspector was born white. That was not achioce he made. It is no more a crime to be white than in is to be black, hispanic, or anything else. Your assumption that he is racist because he is white is racist in itself. Portland and the rest of the world has significant racial issues to resolve. There are huge racial inequalities and injustices that need to be addressed and fixed. Comments like "aren't they all" help foster an environment of racial intolerance.

BTW, MAX and Trimet should be free. But until it is, it is a ethical obligation to pay for what you use.

Selective Enforcement is Racism/Classism 08.Mar.2005 10:13

Armand23

I ride that route ten times a week. This is the first time that I have seen a fare inspector head in that way on his own. This isn't scientific evidence, but an observation. Some of you have seen it more frequently than I. Frankly, I'm surprised, but am willing to accept that I might be more of the anomoly.

The point where this becomes racist is how the rules are enforced. With all the money that we pour into Tri-Met, we could have designated fare inspectors that check everyone. Instead, we get this "random" set of inspections.

In my experience, when the ratio of Latino to White is in favor of the Latinos, there is a greater chance that there will be a fare inspection. I'm told that this is random. This is just how it happens, and I guess that I'm supposed to keep my mouth shut.

So what if I have witnessed a well-off appearing white male just tell a fare inspector that he really did have a yearly pass. It just happened to be at home. "Well, bring it with you tomorrow," replies the inspector. No discussion off the train, which is what would have happened if he was brown or poor.

Tell me how this is not racist or classist.

Just say no 08.Mar.2005 12:36

Mr Metsker

Simply walk away from fare inspectors.
They have NO power to detain you.
NO police power whatsoever. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CONVERSE WITH
THEM or ACKNOWLEDGE them at all. You have NO obligation to
identify yourself to them.

They rely on cooperation. Don't give it to them.
As Nancy & Ronny put it, "Just say no".

Don't be ridiculous 08.Mar.2005 16:29

James

Of course they can stop you. Not only can the fare inspectors stop you, but any passenger on the train can stop you. The only Tri-Met personnel who will not stop you are the drivers, because they're busy driving. I guarantee the fare inspectors will make every effort to stop you.

Indeed, ORS 153.039 gives them explicit permission to detain you in order to identify you and give you a citation. Tri-Met has its own 35-member police unit specifically to deal with this sort of thing.

You can certainly run (just as you could from a department store), and they may not follow, but they always have the right to.

Please, learn the law before you advise others.

re just say no 08.Mar.2005 16:52

clamydia

Make sure that they aren't accompanied by a transit cop, because those people CAN detain/arrest you. Also, while you may be able to walk away, they can get you 86'ed from TriMet. I don't know how easy it is to enforce having banned someone, but I'm willing to bet that if they ban you, they can call the cops on you for tresspassing if they happen to see you on there again, which would be a rude surprise when you're on your way out to Beaverton to go to work or whatever.

There's easier ways to get a free ride. I heard about a person who would steal blank passes from buses and payed attention to their hole-punching system, and there was this other womyn who would go to a couple of hotels and get on the elevator and then come back down and go to the front desk and be like, "your soda machine on the fifth floor stole my moeny," and they would be all "sorry about that, here's your money back," and she would do this to a couple of different places like grocery stores and schools until she had bus money. And, there was this person who photocopied the bar code off a beer bottle and taped the copies over the original barcodes on a bunch of nonrefundable glass bottles and jars and then took them to the automated bottle return machines. Then there was this other guy I know who just said "fuck TriMet" and biked everywhere. He could get from southeast to PCC Sylvania in just under an hour, which is just about the same amount of time TriMet took to get him there. Well good luck anyway.

fares please, or better yet 09.Mar.2005 16:58

ride for free!

I used to work for a large city transportation authority in another country. The fare inspectors, or revenue squad as they were known there were despised by transportation workers. They were just as much after workers as passengers.
The squad would even follow people to their home for several days, before busting them. They have many tricks up their sleeve, so watch out for them.
The inspectors really seemed like fascists. They were full of their own authority, getting a kick out of their uniforms- some kind of power trip.
They are scum. Yes all public transportation should be free, and then these bone heads could be dispensed with.

That guy....... 07.May.2005 13:19

SKiDmark

If you see him again please get his name and badge number. I have had several dealings with him and he is always rude. He has been rude with my girlfriend and I and has harassed my girlfriends daughter on her way home from school. I guess we all look like fare evaders or some other sort of scumbags. My girlfriend and I both have tattoos and piercings and her daughter is a punk rocker. I guess it pisses him off when he can't write us a ticket cuz we always pay our fares and my g/f's daughter has a youth transit pass. I have dealt with other transit Police who are polite and respectful and this guy is generally rude to all he contacts. When he boards a train to check fares he either heads for the bike rack if you look like a punk or a messenger or much worse, he heads straight for anyone brown. being a Zoobomber I've had lots of dealings with MAX authority, mostly positive, but this guy is generally bad news no matter who you are. If he hates dealing with the public so much he should find another job.