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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Translink and Public Transit in the Bay Area

If you haven't read the article about San Francisco Muni (public transportation system), you should read this first before you continue reading my blog. Click here for the article.

I remember that I had to ride Muni during my years in high school and during college for at least three years, and what a nasty experience that was.

During high school, it was the year of the "Muni Meltdown" where the metro was so bad, that you were stuck in the tunnel with more than ten trains ahead of you to get out of the tunnel, and the bus drivers were going nuts. I remember waiting for over a hour, having two buses pass by because they were so packed. Another time, a driver intentionally passed the bus stop I was waiting for, and say goodbye to that driver!

During college, I attended City College of San Francisco and that was a horrible experience. I rode the 29 sunset directly to CCSF and I had a major argument with one of the drivers. I complained numerous times to their complaint department, and after that did not work, I complained directly to the head of Muni that the driver continuously refuses to stop at a legal bus stop, and that the city must respray the poles and the pavement that it is a legal stop.

It took three months to get that resolved, but by then, I did not have any more confidence in that bus line. I found alternate routes to get to campus:

To campus: 38L, transfer to 28L, transfer to M, transfer to K. Still made it in same amount of time that the 29 would take.
Another route to campus: 38AX, transfer to K. Made it to campus earlier than the 29.
Another, more expensive route: 38AX, transfer to BART, transfer to 15 line. Still made it to campus earlier than the 29.

To home: 29, transfer to the 18. 29 sometimes intentionally stopped for five minutes, just so they did not get caught by the inspector.
Another route: K line, transfer to L, transfer to 28, transfer to 38L. Still faster than the 29 direct.

Geesh, the 29 is the worst line around. Their route makes too many turns, and makes too many frequent stops. They need more direct turns, and needs exceptions to "no left turn" zones, especially at 19th avenue, where they must turn right to get to Irving to get to 19th avenue.

Now, I drive to SF State. It's better paying $20 a week in parking fees versus $45 a month, plus fees to talk to a psych doctor.

Has anyone tried Translink yet?
This program is a universal transit fare card that you use to pay for all Bay Area public transit. I was a pilot tester in 2001 and I enjoyed the technology because I did not have to grab change, and all my passes were stored on the card.

The big problem I had with the card is that some drivers were really incompetent about the process, I was charged twice in a few incidents when I paid for my passes, and the delays to implement the system.

The delays to establish the system were very poor, it does not take three years to get it installed it on two transit systems, the goal was to install the system on all transit by this year. It will not be until 2010 until that's ready. That sounds similar to the Bay Bridge project that will be until 2013, when it should have been ready by now.

Also a good fact, the price for the project has shot-up every single year. Why do they need to waste more of my tax money, when it should have been ready by now?

Read more about Translink here: KGO's website

Let's summarize my rants:
Muni sucks, the 29 is real poor.
I can find faster alternatives, and cover twice the distance.
Translink is a great program, but delays in the program is very bad.

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