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Thursday, June 10, 2010

The End of Adult Muni Paper Passes in October Will Hurt Retailers

The news wire is hot about a claim that Muni will eliminate all paper passes for adults starting this October. Muni Diaries first reported this story, and it spread like wildfire to other news venues like SFist, SF Appeal, SFGate's "The Scavenger," and Mission Mission.

To some, it's a shock to see their colorful paper Muni passes going away, while others moan and groan about how TransLink somehow sucks or experiences problems. I'm trying to help cool down the fire in the comment boards by telling them of future improvements with the new Clipper cards, updates from board meetings of various agencies, and tips on how to make it a better experience.

One serious concern nobody has mentioned is if Muni does follow through with their threat to drop paper passes in favor of Clipper cards, are the retailers who currently sell paper media going to take this lightly if they might lose their regular customers?

In my opinion, I believe this will hurt local businesses who sell the paper adult Muni passes. Say for example, each establishment doesn't make any money for selling the passes, but they sell them so the patrons will likely purchase other items.

Here's a great example of why vendors would sell Muni passes:
  • The SFSU student center sells them (including BART tickets) in a venue where just steps away are two convenience marts, bookstore, and various food vendors. If someone was to purchase their pass there, it is possible the patron may get some coffee or a meal before going to class or home.
It's just like the California Lottery, only some retailers have the ticket machines. Some people go on a frequent basis to buy tickets, and sometimes grab some groceries or something from the impulse section.

Will Muni ask the TransLink/Clipper folks to install more add value machines at the existing retail locations so patrons can buy passes and add e-cash funds without trying to find a Walgreens or an add value machine at a major transit station?

I think we need more ticketing retail outlets to sell TransLink/Clipper media, including the e-Muni monthly passes. Not every person wants to order it online or by phone; they prefer that in-person experience. I believe existing Muni pass retailers will demand a proper alternative to maintain their customer base.


troymccluresf said...

"Not every person wants to order it online or by phone; they prefer that in-person experience."


"I believe existing Muni pass retailers will demand a proper alternative to maintain their customer base."


This is about streamlining transit in the Bay Area, and Muni, along with BART, can make the greatest strides in helping that succeed.

Plus, after the 100th customer comes in and demand the retailer activate/fix/answer questions about Translink, I'm sure they'd be happy to get rid of the damn thing.

Anonymous said...

If you have a Fast Pass on your card, I've been told you cannot also have e-cash on the card. The system is too stupid to realize that if you're riding MUNI it should use the FastPass and if you're riding SamTrans to deduct e-cash.

YOU try and hold a card steady when there are 50 people behind you wanting to get on the bus or through the gate.

WHICH LEADS ME to my BIGGEST complaint: If you're riding the train in the Avenues, get on the 2nd car, but the car is full, WHY MUST YOU TAG YOUR CARD? Tagging the card when you have a FastPass does NOTHING to your card. It doesn't deduct funds. It still shows you have proof of purchase if you DON'T tag it, so WHY MUST YOU FIGHT YOUR WAY THROUGH THE CROWD? Their LAME excuse? - so that Muni can collect statistics. BS!

NO OTHER TRANSIT AGENCY charges for a multi-purpose or Transit card. ONLY IN SAN FRANCISCO. Go figure.

Akit said...


Regarding having a fast pass and no-cash on a single card, there is no such rule. I've had the electronic pass with ample cash at all times and the system is NOT stupid to deduct the cash, it will recognize the pass and allow entry with no deduction of the e-cash purse.

The system was built to give the best deal for passengers. Example: I exit BART at Powell and transfer to Muni metro paying e-cash for both systems. When entering Muni metro, the card reader will give me the 25 cent transfer discount, and is just the same as if I paid cash with the white machine printed transfer at the agent's booth.

For your second statement of holding the card steady, it's a regular requirement. RFID systems are never made to swipe. There's a good reason why TransLink is being rebranded, the public wants faster responding cards, and their wish is coming true with their new generation of cards.

As for having a pass while on a crowded metro train, I don't have an explanation about that. It's normal policy to tag the card if you board a bus, even if there is a pass on it, but with POP, it's not very clear what the rule is.