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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Man vs. Fare Inspectors,
Streetcar vs. Late Model White Honda Civic
or, an interesting day for my rail transit

So, some of you know that I have been commuting to Hillsboro for a temporary job. More on all that hub-bub soon. But here's an interesting story from this morn's (Wed) commute:

It's about 10.45am and I am on an westbound Blue Line to Hillsboro. We leave Library/10th Ave stop, and as we are reaching the Civic Stadium stop, the next one on the line, and of course the first stop outta Fareless Square, the operator comes on the intercom:
"Attention MAX riders. Fare inspectors and police will be boarding at the next stop. Please have your proof of fare ready."

I thought this was a bit odd. Fare inspectors just come aboard to do surprise inspections, they are never announced. But at the stop, I saw how this strategy came into play.

As expected, a gaggle of squirrelly-looking passengers hurriedly exited the train. And waiting for them was a half-dozen fare inspectors. Of course, those who didn't have the fare were going to get off, so they nabbed those ne'er-do-wells. All the farefuzz did for us still on board was made a half-hearted attempt to ask for tickets, but got off before actually inspecting. As we pulled away from the station, I watched the unlucky get interrogated by "the man".

And now, just a half-hour ago (9.15pm), as I was leaving the indie-rock block to get coffee at Whole Paycheck, I passed a streetcar sitting on NW 10th between Burnside and Couch (astride Powells). Well, said streetcar was sitting there because it happened to plow into the side of a white Honda Civic. The rear passenger door was pretty f'ed, smashed glass and all that. It didn't look like anyone was hurt. But now I'm trying to figure out the scenario. Did the car run the light at Burnside and get pushed by the streetcar for 100 feet? Or was it something else? If anything, remember kids: in a fight between a car and the streetcar, the car always loses.

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