Al, I didn’t leak the information to the news media. But you did point people right to it on your blog back in April. The Citizen Advisory Committee on the Budget recommended that TriMet work with union members and leadership to find ways to reduce costs, which is exactly what we intend to do. I have no interest in bargaining our contract with ATU through the news media, or in trying to sway public opinion on the matter. The process will happen as it should, at the table with the union and the District bargaining in good faith.
STEVE ON THE FAKE TICKET SCAM:
On Tuesday night investigators from the Transit Police Division and Portland police made two arrests related to a major counterfeiting operation of TriMet tickets. More than 35,000 all day and all zone tickets were confiscated, with a value of more than $100,000. During the several months-long investigation, it is estimated that the counterfeit tickets cost the agency another $100,000. You can read about the story in most newspapers online.
Many thanks go out to the TPD officers who spent long hours working this case. It is also important to note that several bus operators provided valuable information about where and when they saw the fake tickets on our system, and their efforts were an important part of the investigation.
More than 35,000 fake tickets
The quality of the fake tickets was remarkable, and clearly the work of a sophisticated operation. According to Lieutenant Silva, it is similar to a drug selling operation, where the product is manufactured in large quantities and distributed in smaller amounts through a series of intermediaries who all make a cut of the profit. While the value of an individual ticket is small, in the quantities that were confiscated this week, it can quickly add up to a substantial sum of money.
According to police, conviction of manufacturing and distributing forged TriMet tickets is a Class C felony, which could result in a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $125,000. Their investigation is ongoing for additional people who may be involved in the purchase, distribution and the use of the forged TriMet tickets. More arrests are anticipated.
While a large number of tickets were seized, it is still possible that more will come in to the system in the future. If you believe that you have received a counterfeit ticket, you should use the Fare Evasion key on the VCH to notify Dispatch. If you are able to make note of where you received the ticket and a description of the person you received it from, please give that information to your station manager at the garage. Do not confront the person or attempt to detain them.
TriMet is informing customers that they should be very careful when buying tickets or passes from anyone other than an authorized TriMet representative, especially if the price of the ticket is "too good to be true."