Sunday, March 01, 2009


I've been driving the 11 route a lot lately. Some of the same people get on every day. Same stop. Same time.

One guy, I'll call him The Whistler, got on every day. He was in his late 20's. Polite and nicely dressed, he'd always sit in the front. Later a young lady would get on and sit by him and they would chat until they both got off at the same stop. Their conversations were quiet and between each other. Every time the guy would say something with an "s" in it, there was a faint whistle. It got to be pretty funny. Every day, there was this quiet conversation with the constant little whistles in it. I'm glad I am off to a different route next week. It's one of those things that can go from funny to annoying quite quickly.

There was this other lady that kind of made me laugh to myself. She is an elderly lady that likes to wear strange eye make-up. It's that sparkly stuff young teen girls put on their skin. No real color to it, just glittery sparkles. She wears it all around her eyes all the way down to her cheek bones. She's normally quite pleasant. She just has one trick she likes to try and pull. Though she gets on with a transfer, she often asks for a transfer as she's leaving the bus. I am always polite and tell her something to the effect of "The transfer you got on with is still good." Or "You used a transfer when you got on. You'll have to pay a fare again for another one." She always acts surprised as she exits the bus.

I had one chick that really annoyed me. She only got on once...thank God! She put in a monthly pass and handed it out the door to who I am assuming was her boyfriend. I told her that wasn't allowed. He could then hop on a bus and it would be two for one. Heck, he could stand at the bus stop and do that all day for people. They both insisted he wasn't getting on another bus. I told them that a monthly pass must be in your possession while you ride the bus as proof that the fare was paid and to avoid this fraud. It is only good for the owner of the pass, not for everyone they want to provide rides for AND themselves for a month. They claimed that they did this every day and I am the only driver that has ever said anything. I told them that it was illegal every day and they could get a $180 fare evasion ticket every day. I wasn't going to argue with them. I told the girl she needed to pay a fare, get the pass back or get off the bus. The guy gave her the pass back and I shut the door and pulled off. The girl went to sit down and said loudly "And you better have me at my stop on time!"

OHHHHHHH! How I wished she was the only person on the bus. I'd have driven about 5 miles per hour just to make sure she was late! Actually, in all honesty, that's what I would have LIKED to do. In real life, I prefer to rise above ignorance and just do my job to the best of my abilities. It wouldn't be fair to have other people waiting at bus stops while I'm late due to her nasty attitude.


Blogger minneapolismayor said...

On the older-style passes (non goto) it does say "must have in possession when riding." It also says that it's illegal to resell the card. However, while transfers say they are non-transferable, these cards do not. So technically, while this lady was doing something illegal, these cards can be lent to others as long as the person using it keeps it with them for the duration of their trip.

That being said, this was a real "smooth move" on the part of these two. I've seen passes transferred thru the window, but right in front of you, that's wonderful. I probably would have told both of them to beat it and enjoy waiting 15-30 minutes for the next bus.

10:39 PM  
Blogger John Charles Wilson said...

It used to be legal to resell passes, commuter tickets (later called stored value cards), and tokens (when they were sold to the public and not just available through social service agencies).
I'm guessing the sale of phony worthless passes (inked use evidence washed off w/chemicals but magnetic strip still reads no value is why this changed. Still I think this is stupid; there are legitimate reasons to sell a valid pass....
I hope the Twin Cities never goes to a system where passes are registered in your name and illegal to lend, even when you're not on the bus. Fargo and Madison are like that....

7:09 PM  
Blogger minneapolismayor said...

John is correct on why they are non-resellable. And metropasses have always been for the owner only. goto cards are supposedly for the owner only too, but unless they're disability or student cards, I don't think anyone would know if they were sold or lent or not. For that matter, the transit passes market "do not sell" can be sold without penalty as long as you're not caught. Basically, you can still sell it to a friend if you don't need it, but the authorities can go after the clowns at 7th and Nicollet who are selling doctored cards.

How do the towns you mentioned prevent lending or resale? Do you have to show ID?

8:50 PM  
Blogger John Charles Wilson said...

Fargo is a small enough town (in terms of bus ridership) that the drivers pretty much know everybody. You don't normally have to show ID to buy or use a pass but you do have to sign the pass when you buy it and if a driver suspects you're using someone else's pass they can ID you (but this seldom happens). The situation in Madison is similar but with it being a bigger city it's easier to get away with it.

Non-transferable bus passes are more common in Canada, and you often do have to show ID. Usually the transit system issues its own photo ID's with a prominent serial mnumber as well as your name and fare category (if a youth/student ID the date that you reach the age where you have to pay adult fare is also noted prominently). When you buy your pass, you must write in your ID number on the pass, and show both the pass and the ID with the matching number to the driver.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the plain "stored value" type Go-To Cards, you can pay fare for multiple people, at least on light rail.

- Andrew

9:53 AM  
Blogger minneapolismayor said...

Andrew- That's true, much the same as you can pay for a group with an old-style stored value card. The difference is that you'll actually pay multiple fares that way, which is not what happened in this bus drivers' story.

ALSO, with old stored value passes, you get paper transfers for additional fares paid; with goto, the extra transfers are embedded in the card, so your group can only pay this way if you will be traveling together for the whole trip, including transfers.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Jeanne Ree said...

Monthly passes, go-to or otherwise, are only meant for the purchaser. If you are caught on a bus or train without it to show you have paid your fare, you can get a $180 ticket. The go-to card is registered to the owner.

This particular story was about the old monthly passes. It is illegal to use it and then hand it to someone else to use...common sense.

Anon - You can pay multiple fares with any stored value card, as long as the card has the money on it. I believe the limit on the go-to stored value is 6 or 7 because that is all the transfers it will hold. I have never used it to the max so kind of forget how many it is. I'll have to ask. The old SV cards you can use until the money is gone. However, they only hold one transfer so you would need a transfer for each additional fare paid. Also, if you are going on the train with the stored value, you need a "rail only" transfer as proof that you paid a fare.

Thanks for all your comments!

2:34 PM  
Blogger John Charles Wilson said...

Actually the old (pre-magnetic strip era) monthly passes used to explicitly say on the back, "This pass is transferable, but may only be used by one person for any one ride." IOW, you could lend, give, or sell it, but only one person could be on a bus at one time with it. I might have a couple of Twin Cities passes from 1995 in storage in Seattle, will look for them when I go there to clean out the storage unit....

3:18 PM  
Blogger Jeanne Ree said...

John - Seems people got around that system by using the pass and handing it out the door. Think of it. As many people as want to wait for the next bus could stand on the corner and ALL ride on one card...just keep handing it out the door! I'm sure that's why the current monthly pass (not go-to type, but the one that goes into the farebox) says you must have the card in your posession while riding the bus. Common sense.

11:41 AM  
Blogger John Charles Wilson said...

Yes, people did cheat that way a lot back in the day. I agree with requiring the pass to be in your possession at all times while on the bus. "Transferable but good for only one person for any one ride" pretty much means the same thing, by the way. One problem with enforcement is there's no requirement to keep a transfer in your possession while riding a bus if you paid cash, or even to keep a stored value card, if you used one, in your possession. Thus it's hard to prove a pass violation unless the driver sees it.

Portland, Oregon's Tri-Met has a different system. What we call "transfers" they call "fare receipts". Anyone paying a cash or ticket fare automatically gets one. Buses have Proof of Payment fare inspection the same as light rail, so you must keep your fare receipt until you get off the bus.
This is actually the most common system in Europe (and why the Swedish "scam" you talked about before works), but in North America is unique to Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, British Columbia for buses (it is used on light rail in several cities though).

5:17 PM  

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