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Much of my time living in Portland, my ideal way of using our bus/train system (which I like, by the way; no mass transit slander here) has been getting a monthly pass: a flat fee for as many rides as I want and need. At times, when I've been relatively poor or within walking distance of a job*, I haven't bought that pass. I'd get tickets instead, available at TriMet's downtown office and many supermarkets, each good for 2 ½ hours of boarding and riding.

One thing I realized when I used tickets: I'd hoard them. I was stingy. I'd be more likely to walk a really long way instead of using a ticket. (For a couple of weeks in 2009 when I started work at an office 2.7 miles away — I just checked — it made sense to only use a ticket going one way and walk the other way. That took an hour's walk, sometimes in the morning.) I'd feel a little relief when I could afford/justify a monthly pass again.

This year, TriMet's changed things: it added the MyHopCard, a reloadable card. There's also the option to load tickets to a phone, but I doubt my phone's anywhere near able to handle that, so that was out. After finishing my last batch of tickets, I bought a MyHopCard in early September for a small initial fee ($3, if I remember correctly) plus $40 of fare, and I've been getting used to it. You scan it when getting on a bus, or at a pillar on a MAX Light Rail or Portland Streetcar platform. I'm not crazy about it keeping track of where I get on and off, which passes and tickets don't do, but I can live with that. The main thing I wondered: would I hoard again?

Mostly, so far, no. Probably because it's easy to buy more tickets online, without going to an outlet. The nearest place I can buy those tickets, the SE 82nd and Foster Fred Meyer, is 12 blocks away, not far, but that's another trip I now don't have to so. It's slightly — slightly — loosened up my use of the system. I made spur-of-the-moment bus trips on Thursday and Sunday using it...after I'd also walked a ways, because I can always walk more.

I'll see how this changes when I'm working again and likely needing to ride TriMet much more often.



* That's happened twice so far, both times when I lived in the Brooklyn neighborhood: the Fred Meyer/Kroger call center, a 15-minute walk from the apartment, and before that a temp job at the TriMet office itself. I got free monthly passes for those months, which I didn't actually need for work (four blocks!), but it was nice to have for other trips...