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Monday, May 11, 2009

SF Muni Token Tickets - A Waste of Taxpayer Money

Muni tokens... when Muni notified the public of jumping the fare from $1.25 to $1.50, people realized they could take advantage of the Muni tokens because they were sold in ten coin packs that cost only $1.00 each. Since tokens were literally gone due to hoarding, Muni created "token tickets." These tickets were the equivalent price of an actual token, but made for passengers to carry a book of tickets and tear them as needed. To prevent hoarding with the tickets, an expiration date was established.

Today, Muni tokens (coins) are not in circulation, and token tickets are a permanent fixture. The token tickets are valued at exactly the regular cash price of riding Muni: $1.50 a ride, therefore there is no discount anymore. The only people who would purchase these are for convenience purposes (not worrying about having enough quarters), the city's social service agency, and transit benefits users to cash their check.

With the possibility of Muni raising the fare to $2.00 a ride (that's if the Board of Supervisors will kick Muni's ass to the ground or let the proposal pass), will Muni produce token tickets for the new fare structure?

With all due respect to Muni trying to save some money, what is the purpose of producing token tickets that have the equivalent value of the current adult cash fare? Muni could simply stop producing it and use Translink cards that have a stored cash value to ride transit.

It still meets the three target users:
  • Convenience: Instead of hassling with buying token books, one simple phone call, automatic loading, and automated Translink add-value machines makes it easy to add as much cash as needed (since today's token prices are the same as a regular cash fare). If you still love going in-person to get your fix, there are vendors all over the Bay Area.
  • Social services: The city's social services agency can obtain a Translink add value machine (similar to stores and restaurants who use a separate credit card machine) and add the appropriate value. This prevents people from trying to sell their tickets for money.
  • Pre-taxed transit checks: Can be claimed electronically or a physical check cashed at specific retailers with Translink uploading capabilities.
Plus, Muni saves a bundle by not printing them and mailing or assigning a person to deliver them to vendors around the city. Muni can also save money if their plan to sell "premium" fast passes with BART access goes through. Same concept with token tickets, don't print the "premium" pass and force people to use Translink. With BART onboard Translink in several weeks, it's just a no-brainer.

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