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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Muni is Committed to Translink Card Program

San Francisco Muni... where the buses are sometimes late, and the NextBus system is broken (like today).

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.
Let's hope this works. How soon until Muni is up and ready for full public use?

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).


Anonymous said...


All retailers participating in TransLink should accept Commuter Check vouchers. Check translink.org for the list of retailers. And, yes, the automatic link between TransLink and employer programs like Commuter Check still needs work. Redeem your vouchers for TransLink value and you should have no problems. Thanks.

Akit said...

Thanks for your comment. No disrespect, it would be helpful if you would leave your name and which agency you represent.

At least our public agencies reads my blog entries.

Anonymous said...


I am interested in hearing more about how the NextBus system is not working. We at NextBus endeavor to ensure the system is always oeprating properly. What needs to be fixed? Also, feel free to comment on the system performance and what you feel needs to be improved. I welcome your comments at info@nextbus.com.

murphstahoe said...

Akit - I have found an excellent adjunct to this system. My company uses WageWorks to administer our commuter benefit. I was able to sign up such that my commuter check money goes onto a special credit card usable only for transit payments. Linked my Translink and EZ-Rider card to that credit card and I'm all set.

The only problem is that it would probably be an issue if my "credit card" (works more like a debit card) runs out of money and EZ-rider or Translink is trying to reload. If I am worried about that, I switch back to my regular credit card.

Akit said...

murphstahoe: Thanks for the tip, but unfortunately my employer only uses Commuter Check Direct. At least the vouchers stay good for over a year.