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SunRail’s ticketing system sucks

Enough’s enough with SunRail’s unreliable ticket-vending machine system.

Xerox is the vendor with the contract to install and maintain the machines. Quite frankly, the ticketing system hasn’t worked since Day 1.

It’s not as though SunRail just launched the other day. SunRail has been running revenue operations since mid-May 2014 when riders were required to buy tickets. We’ve been in SunRail stations where 3 of the 4 vending machines were out of order. In addition, the ticketing problems have fouled up back-office operations that make it difficult for SunRail to accurately count and analyze ridership trends.

On Friday, Jan. 2, the machines had all kinds of problems when riders surged into stations to ride SunRail at the end of the Christmas holiday season. In some cases SunRail trains left stations while people were still in line trying to buy tickets.

Rube Goldberg contraption

Even when the machines actually work, they’re incredibly slow. Who designed these machines? Rube Goldberg? (Millennials, please Google)

Xerox has a million excuses and says they’ve sent squads of techs to resolve the issues. That’s too little, too late. If Xerox can’t deliver, then they shouldn’t have bid on the job.

The ticket-vending machine problems leave many SunRail riders — and would-be-riders — with a bad taste in their mouths. Those riders don’t complain about Xerox. They complain about SunRail. 

We think Xerox’s top executives should attend the Jan. 9 meeting of the Central Florida Commuter Rail Commission to take heat directly from our elected officials.

It’s time to cut the crap.

SunRail says it’s withholding payment to Xerox, and certainly lawsuits are probably in order. But none of that helps the riders who have been inconvenienced by the ticket-machine problems.

Fortunately, we’ve got a solution. Every time a rider tries to buy a ticket and the machine is too slow, or it won’t work, the rider should board the train without a ticket and tell the conductor what happened. The conductor should record the number of riders who couldn’t buy a ticket. Then Xerox should be charged $7.50 — the full price of a round trip ticket from DeBary to Sand Lake Road.

Will some scamsters game the system? We’re sure they will. But you know whose problem that will be? Xerox. Get the ticket-vending machine system fixed and Xerox won’t have to pay the fares anymore.

The ticket-vending machine problems aren’t an inconvenience. They’re an embarrassment. We’re tired of it.

See you on The Rail.