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No matter how often the security or the conductor check tickets before boarding and even while inside the train, there comes once in a while, people boarding the train without one.

Ticket vending machines get broken and you’ll have to inform the conductor upon boarding. You may buy the ticket when you get to your destination, that’s what you’ll be told. How often do people actually buy when finally getting to their destination? Distractions arise upon arrival. Where should I go after this? Where are the machines to buy tickets? I’m thirsty, maybe I should get a drink first.

Next thing you know you don’t have enough money left to buy the train ticket you were supposed to buy in the first place.  Who’s gonna know, anyway? Conductor won’t come chasing you down and insist you buy a ticket right that instant.

I remember there was a point in time when I didn’t ride the train everyday. I just buy the 10-trip ticket (they’ve been phased out) and every time, before boarding, I’ll just go to a validating machine and it’ll punch the date and time. If it doesn’t work, go to the conductor, upon boarding, and he’ll gladly give you an autograph. If the train has some mechanical issues, chances are you won’t find the conductor. He/She is going around trying to solve the problem. I’ve experienced that in one day I had to ask the conductor to sign his name three times!

Then there was the time I left my wallet at home without realizing I did – ’til I got asked to show my ticket. I panicked upon realizing I don’t have it. The Sheriff then asked for my ID which was also in my wallet! But thankfully I was with friends then who vouched for me and the conductor saying I’m alright. Whew! They just saved me a $250 ticket!

I’ve witnessed sheriffs write tickets and have heard people’s excuses as to why they don’t have one.

Most common one is a lot of folks think having a TAP card would not require one to buy a Metrolink ticket anymore.

A TAP card is NOT the same as a Metrolink ticket.  Here’s a picture of a TAP card.

TAP card

 

 

TAP cards are for Metro buses and subway lines only. You can’t use the Tap card to ride the Metrolink trains. A Metro TAP Card with an EZ transit pass logo has its own rules on utilizing the EZ transit pass. Click this link for more information. http://www.metro.net/riding/fares/get-ez-transit-pass/

If you have purchased a Metrolink ticket, however, it normally has an EZ pass logo in it. You can actually use a Metrolink ticket to board other agencies’ buses like Omnitrans, Foothill Transit, even the Metro trains and buses, provided it has the EZ Pass logo.

Metrolink Pass

Pass

EZ logo

EZ Transit Pass logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please click this link for a complete list of bus connections that accept EZ pass:

http://www.metrolinktrains.com/howtoride/page/title/transitconnections#

 

Then on that rarest time I get to experience talking to one of the most avoided social issue topic and most eluded contact: the homeless.

I just bought a jalapeno pretzel and ice cold slushee drink plus a hotdog pretzel for my son. Train just pulled in and I was one of the first ones. With about 10minutes to spare til departure time, I was eager to devour my pretzel. Minding my own business, I started to prepare my place. Feeling hot eyes on my prey (the pretzel), I looked up. I saw this really skinny guy with parched-looking mouth, he asked me, “Would you mind giving me some of that?” Without hesitation, I gave him a big half. I offered him my drink too saying there are cups near the bathroom, if he’d like to get one.

So against my better judgement and against my husband’s nagging, echoing voice in my head not to talk to strangers, I engaged myself to this person.

He has been homeless for 29 years. He had a girlfriend with whom he had a son with. Then one day, his gf, with their son in tow, left him. Ever since, he’s been homeless.

A crack(head) in the track. I looked at his arms. No tattoos or piercings. He looks clean. (My olfactory nerves say otherwise). He’s been begging in Chinatown but people kept kicking him out and he said he just wants Chinese food. But nobody wants to listen nor understand him, he said with a chuckle. As if there was a joke he wanted to tell.

He went on saying he’s going to Arizona and staying there with friends. He’s looking for his son. He might be there. He kept asking me how far San Bernardino station is from the California state line. I haven’t got the foggiest idea.

Then he starts telling me his Army days to which I just listened. He may be telling the truth – or not. I just thought I’d give this guy my ears (sometimes that’s all we need – a listening ear) and the benefit of the doubt. That’s all I can give.

After hearing him out, he ended it with this line. “Can you help me and give me whatever you can to get me to Arizona?”

Uh-oh this is it. I thought that this guy has probably rehearsed his lines well and practiced conning people. Still, casting my judgements aside, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I gave him a dollar. It was my last dollar – and an orange for the road.

If he isn’t telling the truth, it’s in his conscience. Not mine. I just want to give him hope.

Hope that mankind has not given up on him.

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