r/phoenix Sep 27 '22

Light Rail Fares Commuting

Just took the light rail from downtown Mesa to the Science Center for a conference on STEM issues. I didn't have time to buy a ticket at first and jumped on the train that was about to depart. Downloaded app to buy a ticket... The app doesn't yet have the capacity for ticket purchases LOL! PayPal could do this in literally one day.

On way back, tried to buy a ticket on Washington, but the screen was so burned out it was impossible to read the multistage instructions... LOL.

Why doesn't the transit system care? It's the light rail effectively free then?



u/Willing-Philosopher Sep 28 '22

They’re currently in the process of modernizing it.

“Pardon our progress while we update our fare system on our light rail platforms. Ahead of our mobile fare launch, we will be installing new fare equipment at all light rail stations.”


“Learn more about the fare technology modernization project and upgrades coming soon at valleymetro.org/faretechnology.”


u/RemoteControlledDog Sep 28 '22

It's could be "free", but if you're caught by a spot check you'll could get fined up to $500.
So if it normally costs $4 to ride all day and they catch just 1/100 people that didn't buy tickets they aren't really losing any money.


u/exit2lef Phoenix Sep 28 '22

In nearly 15 years of riding light rail, I don't think I've seen someone actually fined for fare evasion. It's theoretically possible for repeat offenders, but typically the person is just told to get off at the next station. I've seen even more forgiveness in recent months because with so many machines out of order, a lot of passengers make a good faith effort to pay but can't because of technical difficulties.


u/IONTOP Phoenix Sep 28 '22

I've seen them do a full sweep at the 44th st stop.

Like they pulled you off if you didn't have a ticket and there were about 10 cops writing tickets.


u/royle53 Sep 28 '22

That’s probably because 44th street seems like the main hub for uh… nonpaying customers lol. That stop gets crazy.


u/Ubernerd_Lucas North Central Sep 28 '22

typically the person is just told to get off at the next station

In the past year, I've seen a few people refuse to get off and end up getting taken away by police. It's crazy to me that anyone could be that stubborn.


u/Courage-Rude Sep 29 '22

Agreed here. They do tell em to leave but that's as far as I've seen.


u/itsme32 Sep 28 '22

This and each time I rode i had boarding into random cars at each stop.


u/TractorLemmy Sep 28 '22

In my experience. Half the time the machines won't take credit cards, and the other half of the time they don't take cash. Yes, they know which one will inconvenience you the most.


u/[deleted] Sep 28 '22

Bet you're putting your card in backwards. It doesn't want the chip, it wants the stripe bottom left.


u/oprahs_bread_ Sep 29 '22

Just learned this after having a worker show me. You have to put your card in backwards of what you normally would if you have a chip.


u/dinner_for_one Sep 28 '22

There was a time when you could purchase a ticket through the app. I want to say it was back in 2016-2017 or maybe even more recently. I believe they were testing the feature as part of a trial run. There's really no excuse to not be able to do this in 2022.


u/exit2lef Phoenix Sep 28 '22

As others have said, many ticket machines are in disrepair and Valley Metro seems to be letting them go because they're about to implement a whole new ticketing system. The other day, I came across a passenger desperately trying to buy a day pass as a train approached the station. I told him to give up and gave him a spare day pass I had with me. From what I've observed, the security officers are much more forgiving of non-payment due to the widespread problems with the machines. I hope they'll be more strict once the new system is implemented.


u/jreamreaper Sep 28 '22

Yeah the ticketing system is pretty weak most of the kiosks didn't work or take a card, I saw the people who were supposed to check tickets get on then get off a few times without checking tickets, a few people nodded out on fentanyl but it was a decent ride non the less. Went from downtown mesa to the last stop in pheonix and back takes a while but sure beats uber / lyft prices.


u/Jayke1970 Sep 28 '22

Denver and Las Vegas have an app powered by Justride. It works really well you can by a ticket or pass on your phone which produces a QR code hopefully this is the direction Valley Metro is heading.


u/j0nnyh0pkins Sep 28 '22

Found an update on Google Maps.

Light Rail Stations - Installation of New Fare Equipment · New fare equipment is being installed at all light rail stations. Construction will take place overnight from 9 p.m.-5 a.m., primarily impacting station entrances. Please be cautious around all work zones.

Construction schedule: Sept. 25-Sept. 30 - *Please note: construction will be during daytime hours this week. Van Buren/1st Ave Van Buren/Central Ave Jefferson/1st Ave Washington/Central Ave

Oct. 2-Oct. 7 Mill Ave/3rd St University Dr /Rural

Oct. 9-Oct. 16 Veterans Way/College Ave Dorsey/Apache Blvd McClintock/Apache Blvd Smith-Martin/Apache Blvd Price-101 Fwy/Apache Blvd


u/the_TAOest Sep 28 '22

Cool. I'm actually looking forward to paying my fare


u/Primary_Breakfast628 Sep 28 '22

When I was visiting Pittsburgh this past summer, their parking meters are all digital. Pay with your phone, it was quite convenient I must add.


u/exit2lef Phoenix Sep 28 '22

Downtown Phoenix and Tempe meters now allow mobile payments as well.


u/hftfivfdcjyfvu Sep 27 '22

They know most of the riders are homeless…


u/the_TAOest Sep 27 '22

Fair enough. Honestly, it was a very pleasant experience and think it should just go free instead of bothering with ticketing... Or get the app to work and let people make "donations"


u/hftfivfdcjyfvu Sep 28 '22

Yeah it was a cheap comment for sure. But super dumb they don’t do in app for something that is honor based anyway. Have to use the dumb terminals with bright sunlight


u/jdcnosse1988 Deer Valley Sep 28 '22

I wish they had a mobile phone option, it's such a pain to try and gather cash to get a day pass, etc


u/LBramit13 South Scottsdale Sep 28 '22

Also Circle K’s sell day passes


u/mcolborn09 Sep 28 '22

Why would they care ….. it’s taxpayers money. If it was a private company, they would make sure no one was stealing….. basic economics between…. My money, your money, and government money.


u/[deleted] Sep 28 '22

If it was a private company, there would be no metro because, though Valley Metro adds incredible value to every community that has a route, it is not a profitable venture.


u/Tempe-Jeff Sep 28 '22

During covid, they didn't charge fares for a year and a half. Boarding through the rear door didn't allow it on busses. 90+% of their money comes from the Government.