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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Muni Transfer Debate... A Big Mess Every Time

Muni transfers have always been a center of debate when there's a budget crisis for the agency.

Transfers have been an important part of our city's transit system for many decades (even before I was born).

The last time Muni really took action on transfers is during the Frank Jordan era when transfers were completely eliminated (the POP system never existed back then) and riding from one part of town to the other and transferring would cost double or triple the regular fare. But... the city repealed the policy after the citizens got really ticked-off.

Just yesterday, the SFMTA was considering to charge a 50 cent fee for transfers. People were in panic on the comment boards on SFGate, but just hours later, an updated piece of news came out that the SFMTA decided to not charge for transfers.

But let's remember that the transfers debate could return at anytime. Muni could decide to put the issue back on the table by proposing a fee for transfers or completely eliminating them, but there are major consequences for charging or wiping-out those slips of paper.

Here's what would happen if Muni charged or eliminated transfers:
  • The "proof of payment" system is dead. Passengers now have the choice to pay the fare and not get a transfer; since that piece of paper is supposed to be a fare receipt, the fare inspectors cannot enforce the rules.
  • Illegal back door boarding (fare evasion) will get even worse since fare inspectors can't really do their primary job.
  • Passengers would sell their non-expired transfers to others (an illegal act) or give them away to someone else.
  • On the brighter end... those fare inspectors can actually enforce a major problem, rear door boarding should be stopped or they should check fares to allow back door boarding so the vehicle can leave faster.
But one thing definitely will happen in September 2011, say goodbye to paper transfers and hello to TransLink/Clipper.

1 comment:

Erorg said...

I already give away my transfer to my co-workers if they want them. I see no reason why someone NOT BOARDING or ALREADY ON THE BUS use someone elses transfer if they are not using it. If MUNI wants to crack down on "transfer" abuse, they MUST also crack down on "pass" abuse and people who hand off their monthly passes to friends, roommates and co-workers as well. I think thats only fair.