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Monday, January 12, 2009

SF Muni to Raise Fast Pass to $55

Are you ready to pay more for San Francisco Muni?

A report by the Chronicle talking about fare inspectors shows that Muni may raise the price of an Adult "Fast Pass" from $45/month to $55/month. The new hike will be effective on July 1st, 2009.

Let's do a little bit of math on what the fare hike will do to your pocket:

Assuming the regular fare will remain at $1.50 per person...
  • The current pass price is $45, one must use the bus pass at least 30 times or 15 round-trips to get its full value.
  • The new pass price is $55, one must use the bus pass at least 37 times or 18 1/2 round-trips to get its full value.
For the average commuter... lets assume there are 20 working days per month and they ride Muni for every single workday. In a month, a person will ride 40 times or 20 round trips. (Also assume they do not use it for Cable Cars, special service, CultureBus, and service on weekends).
  • Using the current pass price, the commuter can miss five days worth of rides (due to illness, holidays, driving directly to work, carpool, etc.) and still get the value of the pass.
  • Under the new pass price, the passenger can only miss TWO days of commuting (or three trips due to the fraction in calculations) to lose the value of the fast pass. So if you are scheduling a day off to the dentist, a friend giving you a lift to/from work, or you are just sick, you might be wasting money on your public transit.
Missing two days of commuting is $6 a month, so multiply that by twelve and you lose $72.

So Muni, if our citizens do the math on their commute and realize that raising the pass price will actually force commuters to lose money, won't that make the buses even slower? Passengers will have to pay in cash or token tickets to save money.

If Muni wants to make A GOOD INCENTIVE... offer Translink cards that includes a discount on a monthly pass. Translink fast passes would cost $45 or no more than $50. But since BART is not ready and god knows when Cable Cars will be ready, keep the price low in exchange for killing off BART and Cable Cars (for now). Muni pays thouands of dollars to produce passes and transfers, so Muni can save money and give a deal to passengers by reducing printing costs by getting people on Translink.

Lastly, did anyone notice on the back of the January 2009 Fast Pass that it does not mention about the 3-day grace period after the end of the month? That's odd, the SFMTA website says the 3-day grace period is still valid. So if you ride Muni Metro, click on that link and print out that page, some moron fare inspector might claim "well, the back of your pass says nothing about a grace period." Then show the person that printout with the date stamp, and say "I hope you brought your reading glasses!"

(Photo from SFGov website, public domain since it is a government website)


Lena said...

This post sort of ignores the fact that making a point to carry exact change for Muni is a bit of an inconvenience, no?

I tend to stockpile quarters for laundry money, which i leave in my apartment at the end of each day, not my wallet. Even worse is if I have to stop at a convenience store to break a $20 because i have no singles.

I'd love to see translink solve all my problems, but in the absence of that program, I'll continue thinking Muni Pass is a bargain at $55 simply because I don't have to carry cash.

Anonymous said...

In New York, they are considering raising the 30-day unlimited MetroCard to $103 in the worse case scenario plan. I'm always upset when transit agencies consider raising the price of monthly passes, since it punishes those who choose to ride transit regularly.

I also agree that TransLink should offer discounts. In Hong Kong, the single journey fare on an Octopus Card is cheaper than with a single ride ticket, and same goes with the Oyster Card in London.

Lena said...

Beyond that, these automated passes may have implementation costs, but the net effect on the transit agency is a reduction in many costs associated with employing people to take money and service fare machines. Amortized over the life of the system there should be no increase at all if not a decrease once a program like this is implemented.

Anonymous said...

The average number of work days in a month is 22.
When Muni fares were a quarter, a Fast Pass cost $11.
When fares started to go up, the outcry from Fast Pass buyers resulted in a discount that has been institutionalized ever since.
A $55 Fast Pass yields a 17% discount on commuter trips, plus free weekend and evening use, plus free BART within the city.
Anyone who is missing 5 work days a month has either more or less to worry about than this. Oh, and if it's not a good deal for you, you probably shouldn't buy one.

Ciaran said...

If you can buy your fastpass pre-tax through an employer's commuter benefits program, it's definitely worth it.

Akit said...

Ciaran: Although I don't buy passes with commuter check (I don't ride enough to make-up its value), it is worth it.

Anonymous said...

I opted for coins when I was going to be away for two weeks last year. It's not just people missing work; it's people who have work assignments that take them to other cities. Weekend rides aren't of that much use to people who commute from outside the city (BART/Caltrain/etc).

Is it clear if this will impact the price of the MUNI sticker on the Caltrain passes?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Fare increase is $2.00 for adults. Pass costs will be raised to $60 by January 1, 2010. AND if you want to ride BART within SF city limits, you must pay $10 more.

That's probably the part that hurts the most; I like to use BART within the city intermittently but now I can't. (It won't be worth the extra $10, considering what I earn.) F'n Muni.