The familiar multi-colored ticket vending machines dotting the stations of TriMet’s extensive MAX light rail and WES commuter rail systems will soon be scaled back, part of our efforts to meet rider trends, improve efficiency and promote Hop Fastpass™ as a better way to pay. Starting on June 15, TriMet will begin reducing the number of ticket machines by 65, focusing on redundant machines across the system, a project that’s expected to take about two months to complete.
Hop is the better way to pay, allowing riders to tap, board and save, all at the same time. Hop means never overpaying thanks to fare capping, which rewards you with free rides once you meet the equivalent of a daily or monthly pass. With Hop, ride knowing you won’t pay more than the cost of a monthly pass, currently $100 a month—or $28 a month for those in our reduced-fare Honored Citizen program.
Hop’s convenience is its main advantage. Riders have a choice between a plastic Hop card or a virtual Hop card stored in their smartphone. Either tap the card itself at the Hop reader or do the same with your smartphone if you have a bankcard stored in your mobile wallet. Bankcards don’t have the monthly fare-capping and other benefits of Hop cards but can be convenient for those who don’t ride often. Hop readers are located on rail platforms and inside buses and the Portland Streetcar. Just remember to keep tapping for every ride. Learn more about Hop at trimet.org/fares.
While Hop is still the easiest and most cost-effective way to pay fare, we know some riders continue to rely on our ticket machines. This is why you’ll still be able to find at least one near every MAX station or transit center. At stations where trains going in separate directions stop, we’ll keep a ticket machine on both sides of the tracks so riders can pay without needing to cross the tracks. At some of our busiest stations, such as the Rose Quarter Transit Center, all the machines will stay in place to help keep riders moving.
Although some ticket machines that accept both cash and cards will be removed, we’re going to keep most of them installed as we prioritize the removal of card-only machines. TriMet strives to make our system as flexible and easy to use as possible, with fare options that give our riders equal access to buses and trains. We’ve also prioritized keeping machines with the cash option in low-income areas and locations with fewer retailers that support TriMet’s Hop Fastpass.
Consolidating the number of machines will save TriMet about $5.5 million dollars in capital expenses. The move will also save the agency $35,000 a year on the purchase of parts and 1,500 hours of labor time, which will be shifted to support other technologies across the system.
Overall, TriMet will decrease the number of ticket vending machines from 234 to 169, a drop of 28%. We’re prioritizing the removal of machines that are less used or are located close to other machines.
Since the introduction of Hop in 2017, we’ve seen major changes in the ways riders pay. Use of ticket machines hit a high in 2014 before dropping more than 43% by 2019 as the electronic fare payment option became available.
Currently, about 19% of fares are paid using Hop, while another 4% come from payments made from contactless debit/credit cards on smartphones. While both of these figures have increased since 2019—by 7% and 3% respectively—fares paid via ticket vending machine have dropped from 11% to 9% over the same period.
Increased enrollment in TriMet’s Low Income Fare program has also helped shift more riders to Hop. Once enrolled, participants gain unlimited access to public transportation services from TriMet, C-TRAN and Portland Streetcar, all at our Honored Citizen rate of $1.25 for 2.5 hours and $2.50 for a day pass. That comes to $28 a month or $336 a year.
TriMet is dedicated to providing the best service possible to every rider in the metro area. We serve a broad and diverse community and make decisions rooted in ensuirng that every person has equal access to transit regardless of income level, race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age or disability. Streamlining resources and reducing underused equipment help us deliver the best service we can to the most people possible.