E-TICKET TO THE FUTURE
RE: "Ticketless to Ride" [News, Sept 2], regarding concerns over the transition of Portland's public transportation to digital fares.
DEAR MERCURY—I'll give you that TriMet runs through public money like a 12-year-old girl with a Hot Topic gift card. But your story about the coming e-fare system smells wrong. You take issue with the fact that "60 percent of bus stops are more than a quarter mile from the nearest e-fare retail outlet," while you separately mention the fact that TriMet plans to quadruple the number of such outlets by the time the system goes live in 2017. Citizen oversight is always good, and I applaud OPAL's work in this area so far, but it seems like trolling to make a big deal out of where retail locations are. I mean, I assume that Portland will do what every big city in the world does: Sell fare cards online. And most major cities refund the charge to buy the card, at least partially. You got an axe to grind with TriMet, I get that—but pick your spots. It doesn't seem like they're doing anything here that any other major city hasn't done in the same position.
TO THE EDITOR—We appreciate the Mercury's Garrett Andrews' article to help inform the public of the upgrade of TriMet's electronic-fare system. However, there are a few corrections we'd like to make to avoid confusion for our customers. With the new electronic-fare system, called Hop Fastpass, people still can pay for their fares with cash while boarding a bus or via a ticket machine at every MAX station, just as they always have. We have no intent to change this. There are many benefits ahead for riders with Hop Fastpass. One big one is lost-card protection. As long as a smartcard is registered, value will always be stored in that person's account. If it's lost or stolen the value is safe—unlike cash or our current monthly pass. To increase convenience and accessibility to more neighborhoods, including low-income areas, we're adding four times the number of ticket outlets—for example, at grocery stores and pharmacies—compared to what we have today. We're also giving low-income riders the opportunity to get the benefit of a discounted daily or monthly pass even if they don't have the upfront cash to purchase it, by implementing a pay-as-you-go approach. This means once someone reaches the cost of a monthly or daily pass, the rest of the rides that day, or the rest of the month, are free. It's really the perfect solution for low-income riders to get the benefits of a daily and monthly pass. We welcome continued discussion about our new e-fare system but want to get the full story to the public and our riders.
Chris Tucker, Director of Revenue Operations, TriMet
PEOPLE VS. CONSUMERS
RE: "It's the Population, Dummy" [Letters, Sept 2], blaming climate change on human overpopulation.
DEAR MERCURY—[I'd] like to inform the person who wrote that the main problem we are facing is overpopulation that it's not overpopulation that's the problem. It is over-consumption. Yes, more people will lead to more consumption, but this becomes a problem only if they insist on consuming like you and me. It is the footprint that counts. It is we who eat salmon for dinner, shrimp for appetizer, and serve canned tuna to our cats who are emptying the oceans, not the families that live on a few bowls of rice a day. It is we, who dump our X-brand jackets for a new Y-brand jacket every winter because REI tells us to, and replace our smartphones every six months because Apple says so, who are depleting the world's resources. It is always convenient to point the finger at someone else, but appalling when the fingers are pointed at the very people who assemble our smartphones and stitch together our sports apparel at starvation wages.
NICE DISTINCTION, Jan. You win this week's Mercury letter of the week and two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater, where you should consume some beer and pizza to go with your movie anyway.