Getting to Wizard World Austin Comic Con this year was a breeze thanks to Austin's Metro Rail commuter rail line. My lovely wife Judy is a part-time employee of Austin Community College so I used her parking pass to park for free in the ACC Highland Mall campus parking lot. From there it was a short walk to the Highland Mall station where I bought a ticket and waited for the train to arrive. I spent the time waiting reading a book and enjoying the beautiful weather. When the train arrived, I boarded, found a seat and continued to read while the train rolled southward to it's final destination, the Austin Convention Center, the site of Wizard World. How convenient is that? I didn't have to fight downtown traffic and pay for a place to park. The train took me right to where I wanted to go. It was quick, easy and cheap. I like that last part!
However, I do wonder about something. Friday was the third time this year I've ridden the Metro Rail train to the Austin Convention Center. Each time I've dutifully paid my fare at the kiosk and received a ticket. Each time, no one from Capitol Metro has ever asked to see my ticket, coming or going. I had the ticket in my pocket, ready to show it to anyone who asks but no one has ever done so. I'm beginning to think that with no ticket verification mechanism (human or mechanical) in place, I can probably ride the train for free the next time I need to use it. And I can't help but think that many commuters are already doing so.
Just how much money is Capital Metro losing by not having some system in place to verify that all riders have paid their fares? I know for a fact that you can't begin to ride a New York City subway without first paying and swiping a ticket at the turnstile. Same with the Underground in London, England. I've ridden both of those public transit systems and there was no way to get on for free to either of them.
I'm not advocating breaking the rules. I think if you're going to ride the train, you should buy a ticket. But if there's no way to enforce that rule, then it may just be all aboard for free for as long as it lasts.