The complaints keep coming in about TransLink... the vehicle readers are not working at "normal" status. When a reader is working normally, it helps generate revenue for Muni as it collects fares just like a cash farebox would. But when the reader malfunctions (screen is off, reader shows "out of service" or the red lamp glows), it means a loss for Muni as many operators just let you aboard.
Just today, I was waiting for my 38L bus and I noticed the express bus ahead of it had the red light glowing, and the 38L bus I boarded had totally no power (blank screen) and the driver told me he attempted to restart it multiple times.
The message I'm trying to put out there is Muni needs to start treating dead and broken TransLink readers as serious as a broken farebox.
It's gotten to the point where almost every business day for the past few weeks, Muni officials have been handing out FREE TRANSLINK CARDS to the public at various locations around the city whereby it seems the testing phase of the program is over so the masses can use their card without problems. But if the readers are broken or non-operational, what's the use of giving away thousands of cards?
Muni management needs to get very serious with this problem before people may just revolt and pay cash or continue to buy paper passes. They need to look at two areas for improvement:
- Check with the drivers on training. Did they get any training? Did they get sufficient training? Is it time to give them a refresher or should they be given more training on how to resolve problems? If they are able to know how to unjam a coinbox when overloaded and are able to program the electronic signage that says the route and terminal, a little more training on how to resolve TransLink reader problems goes a long way. If the reader is busted upon the driver leaving the yard, return the bus to the yard, and exchange the bus while a TransLink tech person is checking it out.
- Start shouting at the MTC and the contractor operating TransLink to find technical solutions. Reader problems are more common on the vehicles versus the permanently installed readers at ferry terminals, BART gates, and Muni gates.