Muni's expired transfer policies are confusing and many would assume that an expired transfer while in-transit is a big no-no on all vehicles (even I believed that too). I have viewed the SFMTA's website for more information and found out how the policy works between the metro lines versus all the other services Muni provides. By reading this, you will know your rights as a passenger so Muni fare inspectors are not abusing or being ignorant of the rules.
Before I start, let's define "Proof of Payment" versus "fare checking:"
- "Proof of Payment" covers all metro lines: J, K, L, M, N, T.
- "Fare checking" covers all Muni lines excluding the metro.
The next time you encounter a fare inspector, there is a difference in how the expired transfer policy works while riding the metro (POP) versus other vehicles ("fare checking"):
- If you ride the metro, it is considered a "Proof of Payment" (POP) line and your transfer must always be valid (not expired) during the entire journey, including waiting at underground station platforms. The rules state: "Your Proof of Payment must be valid for the duration of your entire trip within the Muni Metro System, including time spent within the paid area of stations or waiting at station platforms."
- However, the expired transfer policy cannot be enforced on Muni buses, and historic streetcars. As always, a passenger must always have a non expired transfer to board the bus, but if it expires during the journey, the fare inspector cannot cite for an expired transfer because Muni policy states the expired rule is only for POP lines (last bulletpoint). Fare inspectors can still cite passengers for not having any fare media in hand or a transfer or pass not covering the appropriate date/month.
Passengers should always be aware to always have a pass or transfer at all times regardless if riding the bus or metro as fare inspectors can at least check if all passengers have some kind of legitimate proof they paid or used their pass to board the vehicle.
A reminder to TransLink cardholders who use e-cash to pay for Muni rides: You don't have to fear an expired transfer for a bus line, but use a stopwatch while riding the metro in the very rare situation a fare inspector pulls out their PDA device to check the validity of the TL card. In my opinion it is relatively difficult to cite passengers for an expired transfer when passengers can't visually see if the e-transfer expired or not (versus a paper transfer).
If you get a citation for an expired transfer while riding a non-metro vehicle, make sure the inspector writes down which bus line you rode on the citation, and contest it. Print out the material from the links below and provide it as your appeal. Make sure to highlight the sections from the SFMTA website that clearly states that expired transfers can only be enforced on POP lines (metro lines).
Appealing and winning gets saves you $75 by not paying the fine; and why not ask the city to reimburse a postage stamp, the time wasted writing an appeal, and the doctor treatment of psychological trauma for fear of inspectors (a new condition called PTFID: Post Traumatic Fare Inspector Disorder)?
To review the city's transportation code (article 7), click here.
To review SFMTA/Muni's interpretation on article 7 of the transportation code, click here.