Metrolink Railroad officials are reporting an increased amount of complaints from riders in person and via social media, that the ticket vending machines, which are supposed to make purchasing tickets fast and simple, are now malfunctioning with regularity. These malfunctions are resulting in passengers missing their trains, increased lines at stations, revenue decreases and perhaps even legal issues as passengers have been, out of desperation, boarding without paying their train fare.
These types of problems come as a surprise considering the literally billions of dollars that have been put into the new rail lines in the last twenty years. Although the trains and rails themselves are an attractive commuting alternative, if vending machine repairs continues to go unattended, commuters cannot take advantage of the system. The bigger problem that was hoped to be solved, removing a percentage of commuters from California’s crowded interstates, will be a moot point, if no one can perform the simple task of purchasing their ticket through a fully-functioning vending machine ticket dispenser.
Currently Metrolink receives almost five hundred vending machine malfunction reports a month. Some of these reports are simple malfunctions, while others are concerning busted units and vandalism. In extreme cases, some machines have even been ripped out during break-ins and carried off by criminals. According to social media page Metrolink Diary, set up by riders to record their dissatisfaction, on some days sixteen of the fifty-five machines might be out of order, even at L.A.’s busiest Union Station.
When these problems are finally addressed riders cite that it seems to take weeks for riders to see vending machine repairs. In some instances all of the vending machines at one station are reportedly broken at the same time, as was the case at Claremont Station. This lack of maintenance is causing a huge decrease in sales for Metrolink. Commuters want their tickets they just can’t get them due to vending machine malfunction.
The majority of the machines which serve Metrolink were installed about twenty two years ago, which many say is the entire issue at hand. The vending machines, or vending machine parts simply need to be updated. When the vending machine repair issue is finally addressed Metrolink could quickly recoup the cost of updating or replacing a vending machine part in the malfunctioning machines, or in all the machines.
While passengers wait for the issue to be resolved, Metrolink advises riders to purchase their monthly passes earlier in the buying period, or to arrive up to twenty minutes early to purchase a ticket in the event that the machine is slow or malfunctioning.