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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Translink on BART in a Week or Just a Rumor?


Word has it from the BART Rage forums that Translink on BART will start next week.

BART Rage user "SecretAgentMan" stated very early this morning:
"Your wish is about to come true. Translink will be here in about a week from now. Good on Muni, BART, and CAL Train. Say goodbye to your EZ rider, as it'll be phased out the remaining of the year."

Hmmm... this'll make BART VP Fang just more pissed off about this "obsolete" project.

True or false? Translink folks? BART P.R.?


--------------------

I've also been hearing that EZ Rider will eventually not be used as a farecard for the gates, but will still be used for the parking program with their awkward mirror hang tags and their card readers installed at the insides of stations that requires payment.

Also, if you want to take advantage of BART's 6.25% discount high value tickets, Translink FAQ on BART (a PDF document) states you must use "Autoload" (automatic loading) that will automatically purchase your electronic BART tickets to your credit card every time your BART balance runs low. Strangely, you may not be able to claim your Commuter Checks anymore, but if you have one of those credit cards that deducts out of your transit checks, that way can work.

So... in the end, you can always ride BART with Translink in three ways:
--Translink e-cash purse
--Translink BART e-cash purse (high value tickets)
--Translink Muni pass (local SF rides only)

8 comments:

jwb said...

So, Akit, I got a Translink card after reading about it on your blog and on Streetsblog. The problem is, it sucks. Every time I load money onto it from the website, it takes three business days before the value shows up on the card. I tried reloading my card at the "Add Value Machine" in the Embarcadero Station and it took over 3 minutes for it to dial its antiquated modem and complete the transaction. The whole experience is completely retarded. Who came up with this stuff?

Akit said...

jwb:

Thanks for the comment. Although I don't work for Translink, here is what I know about your issues:

Loading over the phone or website takes time because most of the card readers are remote terminals (the buses and trains) and they don't instantaneously upload the new data until the end of the day when it returns to their vehicle depot.

The vehicle readers are not like remote credit card terminals that can use a cell phone signal to get instant updates. Translink is more like an iPod, you might buy something on iTunes, but it doesn't magically appear on your iPod until you sync it.

The add value machines are tad slow, but at least it's better than waiting three business days.

The fastest way to add funds to your card is still the add value machines, but another place to put instant funds on your card is to visit any SF Walgreens location or the AC Transit Transbay Terminal ticket booth.

jwb said...

Thanks, I didn't know that about the Walgreens.

Akit said...

Here's the location list:

http://swirlclient.com/mtc/www.translink.org/outlets_map/index.php

Anonymous said...

The easiest way to add value is by setting up Autoload, which automatically reloads your card when either your balance drops to $10 or your pass expires (or both if you load both a pass and e-cash).

Anonymous said...

My experience with Translink has been a tad more absurd than the others above. Each time I try to put money on the card, it doesn't take "up to 72 hours," it usually takes about five days. Five. Days. That's particularly bad if you buy a fast pass, since if you don't do it with a workweek's notice, you're basically LOSING money by using Translink--and scrambling for dollar bills while you do it.

To make matters worse, my most recent experience has resulted in a delay of ten days, and counting. An email inquiry after eight days resulted in . . . no response. A subsequent phone call resulted in ten minutes on hold, ten more minutes with a very friendly, very incompetent rep who couldn't fix the problem.

Translink has been, really, just an awful experience for me. I hope they don't plan on rolling it out to the whole region. Please. Stop. Translink.

Anonymous said...

Update! Eleven days and counting! Now apparently my Translink update is on hold, and the manager can fix it, but she's out of town. So. I asked the rep a few times just to make sure, and this is the upshot: if something goes wrong with the Translink billing and cash uploading system, there is exactly one person with the authority and expertise to fix it. If this person is on vacation, or sick, the entire region is out of luck. To everyone in the Bay Area: sorry, the person with the recipe is skiing.

I'm not sure I can comment beyond that, because it's so . . . oh, I just can't find the words.

Thanks, Translink!

Anonymous said...

I only use BART, commuting from Orinda to Civic Ctr. To start using my Translink, I went online to load it up on a Sunday night and that's when I found out about the ridiculous 3-day wait for the $$ to be credited. I still went ahead, but then when I tried to use it that Wednesday, no luck. Again unsuccessful on Thursday. Station agent had to do something with his handheld machine to make it work. From then on, it worked fine about 50% of the time, but some days took repeated attempts on different gates to get it to work. Great when you're in a hurry, as is everyone behind you. When I went online to reload, then waited 4 days, 5 days, and it still wasn't credited, I called Translink and they told me my order hadn't been "fulfilled". Evidently, when you do a credit card transaction online, it has to be assigned to someone in their cent4er to manually credit it! My transaction hadn't been assigned to anyone. The operator said she'd do it that day, so it should work the next day. It did, but again not reliably. The card failed frequently. Very frustrating. I'm back to paper tickets from now on.