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Thursday, October 22, 2009

TransLink Card Updates: The Gold Nuggets of Monday's Meeting (Corrected)

Monday (sorry, it's not Friday), The TransLink Management Group will be meeting at the MTC headquarters to hear updates and discuss about the "one card Bay Area" program. The agenda has been released today.

Instead of making you read all the bureaucratic crap mentioned in the PDF documents, here's all the gold nuggets I found:
  • For September 2009, there was an average of 38,640 transactions per weekday.
  • The "Direct Benefits Program" is a new program provided by TransLink and allows employers to skip the middleman (Commuter Check, WageWorks, etc.) by having the employer simply add funds on a website, and the employee uses the website with the credits to purchase TransLink based passes or electronic cash.
  • Samtrans and VTA is planned to be in "revenue ready" status by April 15, 2010.
  • Samtrans is in the process of installing equipment. New buses being built will have the basic wiring pre-installed for faster installation of the electronic fare collection equipment.
  • VTA will install equipment in November.
  • New automated add value machines will arrive and be installed at the "Temporary Transbay Terminal" in November. The terminal is slated to open in early 2010.
  • Senior citizens can apply for a properly coded TransLink card during a three day period in November at Embarcadero Muni/BART.
  • There's a notation of a proposed plan to include the SFMTA/Muni late night transfer as part of TransLink, but is noted down as "declined by contractor."
  • TransLink is looking to replace the slot loading "contact card" readers with contactless readers. Slot-loading machines are used on automated add value machines, and in-person ticket offices and retail locations. (This step could be a major push to change TransLink cards with a gold contact chip to a non-contact chip; but either way, it maintains their proximity card properties. This could also be a step to the creation of "mini" cards, popularized in Hong Kong)

But I think I found the biggest gold nugget in the bunch:
TransLink is looking into what is called a "pass accumulator" where if the total transactions of a particular agency or agencies adds-up to a certain amount, the passenger would not pay any more because it would equal to the price of a monthly/weekly/daily pass. During the early pilot several years ago, VTA passengers who rode vehicles, paid with e-cash, and accumulated charges equal to a day pass would have their future rides on the agency for the day as no-charge or free.

TransLink is working on a proposal to make it a "regional day pass accumulator." Although there are no specific details, I would understand the program would be like having a day pass for riding all the transit agencies in the Bay Area, but in this situation, it would be that in a 24-hour period, if a customer tags their card and accumulates charges up to the price of this "day pass," the remaining rides for the day is considered free.

It's an interesting concept to have a day pass program for the entire region. It may not be worthwhile for some, but for those long distance passengers on agencies that don't have monthly passes (i.e. Golden Gate Transit/Ferry and BART), this may be a good deal, especially if you have to take multiple transit agencies to commute.


The next management group meeting is scheduled for November 23rd. I'll provide updates when the next agenda and Powerpoint presentations are released to the public.

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