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Friday, July 2, 2010

Free rides on Muni with broken Clipper readers, but how to handle Fare Inspectors?

Oh joy, oh joy! Earlier this morning, Muni Diaries addressed a peculiar problem with the Clipper program: What should a passenger do when the reader is non-functioning?

SFMTA got back to them and here's their answer: Free rides for passengers if it's broken.

Muni operators are required to report problems to central control and treat it just the same as if a cash farebox was broken/malfunctioning.

Gees... this sounds so familiar. Muni published the bulletin on June 29th, but I addressed the issue on APRIL 8TH! What took you so long, Muni?

I suggest printing a copy of the bulletin and carrying it with you if a Muni operator hassles you.

But while passengers will get a free ride on Muni, this doesn't address the fare inspectors who carry their portable card readers. The card readers they carry is to verify if the passenger tagged his/her card on the vehicle card reader; but since the reader was broken on the vehicle, how should the passenger handle the situation if encountering a fare inspector?

There are two unique situations when experiencing a broken vehicle card reader and encountering an inspector:
  • If the cardholder is an e-cash customer, the fare inspector's card reader will say "NO" for not tagging card to pay fare. Depending if the fare inspector understands the problem, it is possible a $75 ticket for fare evasion may be charged.
  • If the cardholder has a valid pass or transfer, but could not tag card due to a broken vehicle reader, I'm not sure what the response will be on the inspector's card reader. Some people who have a valid Muni pass but the reader is broken on the vehicle have been allegedly hassled by fare inspectors for "failure to tag."

(Muni bulletin from Muni Diaries)


Anonymous said...

I am glad to see that they have finally addressed this issue. I had a monthly pass on my Translink card many months ago and had to get rid of it because of all of the broken card readers.

I just hope the drivers actually read these bulletins.

khieng said...

It is a hassle, but I am more ok with paying cash if I only have e-cash loaded on my card and the reader is broken.

I am more upset and irritated with Clipper's stance that if you board the vehicle with a valid pass on the card while the reader is broken, then I'm getting a "free" ride and should be fined. It is NOT a "FREE" ride! It's been prepaid!

If their system and policies are having so much trouble with the passes, then maybe they should start looking at phasing them out completely. Maybe that fare accumulator plan you mentioned a week or two ago may be a better fit for Clipper.

EMo said...

I understand Victor's logic, but nonfunctional readers or operators who demand cash because they do not know how to use the reader properly (i.e., some cable car conductors) are more than an inconvenience for those of us who receive commuting benefits from our employer since there may not be any way to be reimbursed for the expense.

EMo said...

One of the reasons I am still struggling with the cable cars is because many problems with "broken readers" actually seem to be due to training issues. The conductors blame the readers, so the problem never gets resolved. So one suggestion for dealing with this after the fact is to file complaints with Muni and Translink complete with vehicle and operator information so they can identify the folks who are having problems using the readers or determine which readers that are not working.

After I showed a conductor how to use his reader on Friday, he explained that they received 10 minutes of training on this several months ago and that they were not told anything about having to press extra buttons to show the pass.

I am actually a big supporter of the Clipper concept and have never filed a complaint with Muni before, but it seems to be the only way to get the two organizations to understand that there are still some widespread problems and that the customer is not always at fault.

Chris said...

Hi, this isn't exactly on point, but I've been having a significant customer service issue with Translink/Clipper for the past month or so that I just can't get resolved, and I'm wondering if anyone's had anything similar happen.

When my first Translink card stopped working and I was sent a replacement, my Autoload Caltrain 8-Ride pass (along with my other products) were transferred to the new card, but didn't show up on the website when I tried to check my balance. I called Customer Service probably ten times regarding this issue. One rep was able to get two of my three products transferred, but for some reason the 8-Ride pass continued to not show up, although I was still using it on a daily basis and it continued to reload. The other reps were not able to help me.

The problem is that now I want to cancel the Autoload so I can start using commuter checks. I'd do it through the website, but the pass doesn't show up. So I filled out the Disable Autoload form on the website. I've faxed it in twice, emailed scans of it twice (after a customer service rep told me to do so to her attention so they could hand-deliver it to Finance), and mailed it as well. Every time that I call to ask if the form is being processed, I'm told that it doesn't seem to have been received. In the meantime, my credit card keeps getting charged.

I like the convenience of my card, but this is incredibly frustrating. Does anyone have any advice?