Some new news came out from Muni officials (first found out by SFist, then the SF Chronicle) is that the Translink program is going to the public with a select group of regular average citizens testing the system in exchange for taking surveys and reporting back any problems.
Well... finally! Sheesh, about time Muni to get the bugs out of the system. Translink will work well, but needs to shake out those buggers, especially the select bus drivers and other employees who are complete morons and doesn't know what Translink or what the program does.
The Translink readers used to state: "Testing in progress." Now it states: "Tag Card Below" with yellow stickers giving very simple instructions on how to tag the card.
Some advice for you people who are going to test the program for Muni:
- Always assume that every Muni driver, station agent, fare inspector, etc. is a complete idiot. With that in mind, always make sure that you conduct your Translink business very out in the open so they know what you are doing. (Similar to casino employees who always clap before leaving the table to show they have nothing hiding in their sleeves and exposes their hands to the camera)
- Register for the test program, it might save your butt if you get a citation for fare evasion. Muni and the MTC can provide you support to appeal the citation.
- Always carry enough pocket change just in case it does not work.
- If at a Metro station, make sure you grab the agent's attention before using the card. I witnessed a lady who tagged her card, but the agent was not paying attention and denied her entry to the system even though her fare was deducted. But the new thing is Translink installed the readers on all "exit" gates, so you can easily skip the agent.
- If you get tired of Muni, hop on Golden Gate Transit and Ferry and you save a lot of money on your ride. Golden Gate charges Translink users the "frequent commuter" rate, which is cheaper. It also works on AC Transit too.
Lastly, if you use "commuter checks," you can ask to have the funds electronically transferred to your Translink account. But unfortunately, there's a long delay between the fund transfer from the Commuter Check program and it being updated on your Translink account. I am using Commuter Check, but won't risk it until they get it streamlined or I can find a place where Commuter Check vouchers can be loaded in-person at a retail location (like the SFMTA customer service location).