Thursday, September 27, 2007

An Adventure in Reducing my Ecological Footprint

This past Tuesday evening I attended the second class in the Ecological Footprint class I'm enrolled in. As homework, we were supposed to walk, bike, or take public transit for at least one errand we would normally do by car. I chose to take TriMet's light rail from the Sunset Transit Center in Beaverton to downtown Portland and walk between there and the class over on 1st and Columbia. Although it took me a little longer to get to the class, it was far more exciting, educational and peaceful than driving Skyline to the Sylvan entrance to 26 and then 26 to Market Street in downtown.

I've taken the light rail several times before (in my eleven plus years in Portland, that's not nearly enough, I know!) but this was an adventure. When I arrived at the transit center I went up to one of the ticket machines to purchase my ticket. From the brief information I found on the machine, I figured I needed a two-zone pass, which is $1.75 for a two-hour ticket. As some people who know me locally know, I pay for most things with cash these days. With only a $20. bill and a $1. bill in my wallet, I put the twenty into the machine. Out came my ticket and my change: ALL in coins, mostly the new one-dollar coins shown below.

Since my train was scheduled to arrive at any moment, I was in a bit of a hurry so I didn't count the change until later, when I realized that TriMet ripped me off on the order of two to three bucks! Geez! But no worries, it didn't upset me as much as notify me that I need to use more forethought when I'm about to buy tickets from those machines.

After my class, which focused on eating locally and eating less meat, both more sustainable than not knowing where your food comes from and eating lots of meat, I walked back to the transit mall area for the ride home. At the ticket machine (replica shown below),
I pressed the button for a $1.75 ticket and then tried to insert my newly-acquired one-dollar coins. The coin slot was blocked, didn't open. I tried forcing a coin in it and that didn't work. So I thought, well, maybe you place the coin sideways into this larger circular area and it slides down. Well, it sort of took my coin, but it didn't slide very far. Stupid me, I pushed it and eventually it slid down, somewhere into the belly of the machine. At that point a screaming and loud siren sound came blasting out of the machine! People gathered around me as I explained that all I did was try to insert a coin. The siren went on for about a minute I think after which it just stopped. No ticket, no indication that my one-dollar coin was used to deduct from the $1.75 charge for the ticket. Soon after a train came by but it was going to Gresham not towards Beaverton. I realized I was on the wrong platform and walked the two blocks to the westbound platform where I was able to buy a ticket from a "working" ticket machine! Whew!

The last part of this adventure was a thirty-minute delay near PGE Park where the train broke down. Fortunately I had a book to read.

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