Tipper Rides the Light Rail

I took a trip to Phoenix (just got back, in fact) and decided to take the train to the airport, rather than relying upon the goodwill of friends and/or family. While I enjoyed the speedy trip and the concept in general, I gotta quote a fellow passenger on the return trip: “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Maybe I’m hypersensitive, but the vibration made me feel like I was having some sort of weird experiments performed on me by aliens. And that infernal beeping when the doors are gonna close? Goodness. I’m surprised my brain is intact.

But the stupidest thing of all is the ticketing system. The first time my fiance and I rode, we each had a bus transfer, mine in the form of a 31-day pass. On the way back, I again used my pass, and my fiance purchased a ticket. My question is this: How in the world does anyone know if we actually purchased a ticket or not? We didn’t see any ticket-checkers, and there’s no way of telling who has paid and who hasn’t from any sort of automatic standpoint, as far as I gathered. Is it really operating on an honor system? Does MetroTransit count on the fact that if they catch one person without a ticket, that’ll pay for 89 other people who didn’t have one, either?

The train could be a glorious thing. Personally, I think trains should be built along 494, 94, 35W and E, and all of the other major arteries, so that their zooming presence may spark the idea of public transportation in commuters’ minds. But, really, maybe a better way of encouraging commuters is to continue the lackadaisical ticketing; certainly, a free ride is better than $2.69 a gallon for gas.

3 Comments so far

  1. Greg (unregistered) on September 27th, 2005 @ 10:44 pm

    I live in downtown St. Paul and drive to downtown Mpls at least once a week. Every single time I remark (to whichever passenger happens to be so lucky to be within hearing distance), that it’s idiotic that a train doesn’t connect the two. And what about 394 where they charge extra when it’s busy? Why not invest that $$ in a light rail line?

  2. Lex (unregistered) on September 28th, 2005 @ 9:58 am

    Greg, there’s a mayoral candidate in Minneapolis who had a plank of building the University corridor LRT to connect downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

    Tiffany, I think you’re hypersensitive. =) Have you ridden other train transit systems? The Minneapolis LRT is the quietest I’ve ever ridden. While I love the T in Boston, and the El is tolerable, I still think we have the most comfortable train.

    And yes, as far as I can tell (and I ride the LRT regularly), the ticketing system is completely honor system. I’ve yet to be asked for a ticket.

  3. Erica (unregistered) on September 30th, 2005 @ 1:41 am

    Of all the criticisms I’ve heard of the light rail, I’ve never heard anyone complain about the actual ride itself. Like Lex said, it’s pretty quiet and clean. Unlike any other train I’ve ever ridden in other cities.

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