Sunday, October 28, 2012


One morning last week, the fare inspectors were thick as ants on a PB&J sandwich.  A team of them, including a couple of Portland cops, were waiting at the Hollywood Transit Center, human speed bumps on the way to my destination.

I boarded and found a seat.  A couple of inspectors boarded right behind me.  I'd seen the one who was working his way towards me before.  He's an efficient one, glancing at passes and tickets as fast as they appear with a "Thank you," taking a second longer to acknowledge a transfer, taking his job seriously and calmly.

I showed my pass for the second time in five minutes.  Two seats down, a man flashed his wallet and the inspector said, "That's September.  Do you have an October pass?"

The rider was a 30-something white guy dressed for work, definitely not a typical target for harassment.  But he did not have the pass.  As the conversation continued, his voice rose higher and higher, as if he were being harassed, which he was not.

In his defense, the rider showed that he was carrying passes from several prior months and even found a receipt  proving that he had bought an October pass.  The officerr opened his ticket book.  The rider blurted out that his wife must have borrowed it over the weekend and not replaced it.

At this point, I knew the man was in trouble. You might assume, having bought a monthly pass, that you could loan it to another person.  Obviously, only one person at a time can use a pass, so what's the problem?  Well, in its accounting for estimated income from passes sold and estimated income from people nabbed using passes wrongly, the head bean counters have concluded that the best numbers will occur when there is no pass sharing. Remember, these are the same people who eliminated Fareless Square and significantly cut back service within the last year or so.

"May I see your identification, please?"

The man replied, "Hold on," and made a phone call.  The inspector, to my surprise, kept patiently quiet.  I suppose the rider was hoping to find out if his wife had returned the pass to his lunch bag, or some other unlikely but possible spot that would save the cost of the coming ticket.

But the call didn't connect, and  the cop had to ask again for ID.

"Why?" the violator asked, handing over a driver's license.  "Don't you like me?  Are you trying to bust my chops?"

The cop muttered something about procedures while scribbling.

The violator said, "This is not fair, that I should have paid for this month, not to mention many other months, and this one time. . . "

The cop glanced up at him.

"My wife borrowed it and didn't return it to me," he said. Whining and trying to blame his poor wife. I felt sorry for (and superior to) the violator for his ignorance. 

The inspector gave him the ticket, saying "Sharing a pass is not allowed.  The pass is issued to one person, for his sole use."  The violator stared like a dead trout.


The inspector went on to explain the violator's options.  He could pay by mail or credit card, or he could appear in court.  The inspector had conveniently already set the court date and time.

The violator was done protesting.  The cop was done explaining. The $175 (or more) ticket was doing the talking now.


  1. That's wrong, passes are transferable, transfers are not..

    1. You may be right, Al. I'm just reporting what happened.

      I did a little research and so far have been unable to find any clear guidelines. I will look further.

      Thanks for pointing this out.


  2. Actually I researched it more and I guess I am wrong.

    This is from the Trimet code:
    (c) Monthly Pass: $62.00; $72.00 (operative April 1, 2013); non-transferable.

    Technically I guess they are not transferable. How do you prove that someone doesn't possess the pass they bought?

    1. What does "$72.00 (operative April 1, 2013)" mean? Are they already planning to raise the fares again?

    2. I believe the section you quote applies to "Door-to-door LIFT services." If you look up a level in the Trimet Code from it you'll see:

      "B. Door-to-door LIFT services:
      (1) The fare for door-to-door LIFT services, excluding rides paid for by agencies under contract with TriMet, shall be:

      (a) Cash: $2.15; $2.45 (operative April 1, 2013).

      (b) Pre-paid Tickets: 10/$21.50; 10/$24.50 (operative April 1, 2013).

      (c) Monthly Pass: $62.00; $72.00 (operative April 1, 2013); non-transferable

      I had to double check this because the monthly pass now is about $100(!) and it would defy reason and experience to suddenly have the price drop 30 percent or more.

  3. Yesterday, I emailed Trimet to get an answer to the question of whether a monthly pass can be shared. I did not mention the incident posted here.

    Trimet replied: “Although we don't encourage patrons to use the passes in this manner there is not any policy stating you can't.” (Apparently double negatives are okay, too.)

    So I either misunderstood the inspector or he was interpreting the law wrongly.

    I don’t know; his voice was low. Maybe I’m wrong. I will leave the post up for now but attempt to get more information either from the man ticketed or the inspector.

    1. WAIT A GOSH DARN MINUTE HERE-further investigation of this issue give us another definition , which is THEY ARE TRANSFERABLE:
      ck this post:

      More fare/supervisor rules

    2. All right, Al. Good research and it is not ambiguous. This rule affects a lot of people and should be put out there in the public eye.