Nearly every morning, I take the Sounder to Seattle.

This week and the last, there have been quite a number of security checks to verify that all who are riding the train have paid for their trip.

First, I’ll explain how it works

Essentially, when you take the train, you do so by 1 of 2 main ways.  You get a current-day ticket at the kiosk, or you have an Orca card.  There are several ways to have your Orca card loaded with money.  This Orca card works much like a lot of company’s security doors, where you touch the card to a reader, and it beeps at you confirming that it read your card (or gives you one of 3 warning beeps which have different meanings, from a low balance to an error reading the card).

There are several different styles of beeps and it even has a visual display to tell you what’s up if you get an error type of a beep.  When you exit the train, you again scan your card.  If you don’t scan it when you get to your stop, then you are charged for the entire trip, which can get pretty spendy.  In the end, you pay for the distance of travel.

My commute costs me about $4.25 each way.

When security checks happen, there are guys who walk around with a hand-held reader and they go around and either check for a current-day boarding pass, or they scan your Orca to verify that you touched the card reader before boarding the train.


There are ways to circumvent the system to get a free ride.  If these guys aren’t doing security scans, you might get away with boarding the train and going the entire trip free of charge.  For the commuting train and buses to continue running, it’s kind of important to pay though… or we’ll be stuck driving on the freeway, getting stuck in traffic, having to pay twice if not three-times as much for parking, and increasing our carbon emissions among other things.


The toad on the road caused a fuss on the bus train…

Well, there was a guy who accidentally double-scanned sitting in one of the seats directly behind me.  (Double-scanning: scan the first time and then scan again, it cancels the transaction.) This caused quite the ruckus on the train.  The guy didn’t cause a lot of commotion, I think it was likely an honest mistake, but the lady next to him got quite irritated and started this very loud conversation which lasted the rest of the train ride about how the system is broken and how the security guys are going way over-board by double-checking two and three times a week, and that the only reason they’re doing all of this is to get their hands on as much money as possible.  Her tone basically was saying, “How DARE they try to make so much money from these poor innocent people who ride the public transportation system.”

What the heck is wrong with making money?  These people are providing a great service, they’re likely in debt because it costs quite a LOT of money for them to go through and put the system together, to fix up tracks which hadn’t been maintained for so long, to put together parking lots, new bus lines for commuters, park & rides, and provide a system for people to easily and affordably get to and from work.  Then there are maintaining what they built, operational costs, … the list goes on and on.

If my 1-way ticket costs $4.25, and out of 200-500 people on the train, if even 2% of these people don’t pay, by accident or on purpose, with trains running every 30 minutes, the public transportation system will certainly be missing out on precious dollars which they need to maintain the transportation, as well as pay for people to be employed.

If they can manage to actually make a profit… Good For Them!


Sadly, I doubt they are making any profit – which means that these security checks are that much more important.  The lady really bugged me.  I really don’t understand why its such a bad thing to make money…

If someone knows why making money is a bad thing, please enlighten me.