Sunday, August 05, 2007


I picked up a Mexican woman on Nicollet Mall close to rush hour. She got on and put in a U of M bus pass. When it came back out, I took it and showed her the picture of a guy named Carlos on the back and said "That's not you." She claimed it was her son. I explained that it was illegal to use another persons' pass...that's why their picture is on it. She put her hand out wanting the pass back. I told her I had to turn it in to lost and found since it was not hers and we had to assume it was lost or stolen. Again, she said it was her sons' pass. I told her he could bring some ID to lost and found but he may not get it back since he allowed someone else to use it. She got mad and got on her cell phone. I heard her ask for Carlos and she spoke in spanish to someone on the phone. Then she tried to hand me the phone. I told her I was driving a bus and could not talk on the phone. She said she was going to call the police. I told her to call whoever she wanted to, but the pass was going to lost and found. She called the police and again handed me the phone. I again explained that I was driving the bus and was not willing or able to talk on the phone while I was driving a bus full of people. She finished that call and apparently called Carlos back. She said something to me with a kind of "you're gonna get it" smirk on her face. I know enough spanish to hear her say she was getting off at 25th street and 3rd avenue. When I got there there was this very large guy who looked kind of Samoan standing at the bus stop. The Mexican lady got that smirk on her face again as I pulled up to the stop. I pulled way past the big guy and opened the door. The lady got off and stood there as the big dude was walking up along the side of the bus. I saw him in the mirror and decided it was a good time to leave. Ever see a bus peel out?

After I drove away, the Control Center called me. I hadn't called them because we were told not to call unless it was a "priority" call. Due to the I35W bridge collapse, the Control Center has been very busy. Seems 911 called them. I told Control the situation and they said I handled it well and correctly. I guess 911 thought I hadn't given her a transfer. I told Control that after I took the card and told her it wasn't a valid fare, she did pay a cash fare and I gave her a transfer. I said I had the card and would be turning it in to lost and found. I also asked if there was any way we could be sure the card was not given back, seeing as the owner let an unauthorized person use his card. Control told me to put a note along with it that the card was used fraudulently and not to give it back. That is exactly what I did. It may seem petty, but if it helps keep another driver from going through this drama in front of all the other passengers or from getting beat up by a big dude waiting at the bus stop, I feel I did exactly what needed to be done.

I guess I achieved another first. I had a passenger call the police...on ME!! Hopefully, that's a first and last!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that, beginning with fall semester, U-Passes are going to be on the Go-To Card system. How is that going to work with tracking people giving each other passes like that? It will be nice for when everyone decides to ride the 2 instead of Campus Connector just to cross the Washington Avenue bridge, but I'm curious how that will work.

As far as taking the pass away, I don't think it's too big of a penalty for someone to have to pay the fare for the maybe three more weeks that the pass is even valid.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

My UMN staff go-to card has my picture on it...not that anyone ever asks to look at it....

9:44 AM  
Blogger Jeanne Ree said...

U of M students are going to be required to have their student ID to present along with the go-to card. Without the ID, the fare will be considered invalid and they will have to pay another way.In the real world, people will not have their ID ready and we won't have time to ask for each one so we'll have to use our own judgement and ask those that just don't seem to be students. It's really not an easy call to make sometimes.

The people that use go-to cards with their picture on it are SUPPOSED to tag the card and then show the driver the picture. It rarely happens. Just like people paying reduced or mobility fare are required to present valid ID when they pay. The driver should not have to ask.

The good thing is, if either of these cards are lost or stolen, they can be turned off so no one can use them. The owner will receive a new card with the value they lost on it. For those dishonest people that loan them to friends and family, they are just risking losing a great benefit and financial break.

As far as the pass I took away, I wish the penalty could be worse. However, when you have to pay $3-4 per day ($60-$80 for a 5 day week) just to go to school and back when you already paid for the semester pass, it is some consequence. I'm not sure if they are permanently ineligible for u passes or if it is just the one that was taken away. Either way, he and his mother would have to fork over fares and the money spent on that card was just thrown away. You can believe, if that lady gets on my bus and tags a U pass, she better have her U of M ID!!

Thanks for your questions!

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And thanks for your answers!

If the system you describe is actually how the U-Passes are going to work, though, I don't see how it's an improvement over the old passes with the picture on them. The entire benefit of going to Go-To from the passenger perspective is speed of boarding which, one can hope, may lead to shorter dwell times. (Having driven/trained for a campus bus system elsewhere that didn't require a fare at all, I can say from experience that any benefit is most likely to be negligible, particularly with the seating configurations on Metro's buses.) Also, I guess if a passenger loses a card, it's cheaper now to get a new one but still too expensive -- as I recall, if you lost the old ones, you just had to buy a new one at full price. From Metro's perspective, lost/stolen passes can be canceled; I can't see much other benefit.

As far as carrying the student ID with the pass... I don't like that idea at all, particularly because it isn't really being publicized (yet). I ordered my U-Pass yesterday. The most that was said about that during the ordering process (online) was that it was recommended to carry the student ID in the event of fare checks, which sounded to me like Metro Police doing the same kind of thing they do with the light rail. It was not publicized at all that the student ID is expected to be shown every time. Really, none of this is going to lead to quick boarding or convenience for anyone.

If Metro wanted to do this correctly (but expensively), it would have been good to have the picture actually embedded as data in the card. The picture and other data would have then been shown on a screen that the driver would see to verify the identity. That screen obviously isn't in place now, and I have no idea whether the technology to do such a thing has been implemented, but that might actually have sped things up a little. At least the way it was, the driver could theoretically see the abysmal picture through the farebox.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Ree said...

The biggest benefit to the go-to passes is that if you lose it, you get another one. Your $5 registration fee when you first purchase it covers the replacement should you lose it and need another one.

The other huge benefit is that it speeds boarding. Especially if you are driving the 2 route and 30 people get on at Caufman Union just to cross the bridge!!

I think your idea of embedding the actual picture of the card owner so it shows up on the drivers screen is awesome. I don't know if that technology is there or not but I plan to check into it...thanks for the great idea!

9:40 PM  

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