"Akit is the man. He knows Clipper." (spenta)
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or, better yet, give him a job."
(Brock Keeling, SFist)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Muni's Adult Paper Passes

Well folks, a classic piece of San Francisco Muni's history is disappearing today, the colorful adult paper passes.

It's sad, really sad that a classic relic of our transit history will be gone for us adults. But let's remember the best parts of it, the fun colors, the hologram, people accidentally leaving it in their pants pocket and throwing it in the washing machine, and an easy way to keep track of how much Muni keeps burning a hole in our wallet every few years.

I still remember when I was 18 and the pass was just $35 and it came with BART and Caltrain access too. These days, we pay double that and we don't get free Caltrain rides within SF, or for us cheapskates, the cheap-0 $60 "M" pass.

And while the paper pass is going to be leaving us, out comes another hero in blue and white, the Clipper card. A lot of you read my blog about Clipper, and while I give praise for being the future, I will still miss the retro paper passes. I sometimes still have doubts about Clipper on Muni with the occasional broken card readers, far fewer vendors in San Francisco able to sell Muni passes for Clipper, and making it more challenging for the fare inspectors to enforce the city traffic code on proof of payment.

I'm hopeful that one day, Muni and the MTC will find an easier way to smooth out the Clipper card and make it a lot more user friendly. I'm hopeful we can switch from pre-purchasing passes to operating as a "pass accumulator" program where if you reach an e-cash threshold on Muni, the rest of the rides for the month is free.

While I'm on the topic of Muni passes, if you haven't heard word from the SFMTA, starting July 1, 2011, your favorite adult passes will cost $2 more making the "A" pass $72 and the "M" pass $62. While $2 extra a month is not much, it just shows how much it is a slap in the face to us taxpayers. If the economy gets better, does that mean the pass prices can finally go down?

R.I.P. Muni adult paper passes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Akit's (Not So) Secret Tips to Giants Games

With baseball season coming-up fast and the classic Bay Area rivalry of the Giants vs. A's going on for the next few days, I'd thought I'd share with you my favorite secrets, from how to score good parking, save money, time, and to make the game more fun.

Things are going to get a lot more crowded ever since earning the title of World Champions. My best advice is old fashioned patience and have plenty of time before and after the game.

  • I never park my car at AT&T Park because the main lot charges $30, while other nearby lots charges at least $20 or more.
  • For free or nearly free parking for night games, park your car near a SF downtown parking meter near the I-80 overpass. Enforcement ends at 6PM and if you arrive early, just a little money in the meter can cover your back, but don't park overnight.
  • If you are willing to get free parking in exchange for taking public transit, park at Daly City BART (free parking weekdays after 3PM and all day on weekends).
  • Another place to park for free in exchange for taking transit is in the West Portal district or near St. Francis Circle. Once there, you can take the T-Third train and go directly to the ballpark.
Transit to and from the Ballgame
  • If you don't have a Clipper card, pre-purchase your return ride home on Muni metro by going to the Muni ticket booth between the Willie Mays Gate and main ticket windows/will call. Do this prior to entering the ballpark, otherwise wait in line to buy when you leave the game.
  • If riding BART and taking Muni metro, use a Clipper card for payment and save 25 cents on your Muni ride to and from the ballpark (use the same card).
  • Beat the mob waiting for a Muni metro train to the ballgame and maybe get a seat too, board at any underground station EXCEPT Embarcadero.
Save on Giants Tickets
  • Since ticketing works on a market demand system, it is likely the price of tickets will go up throughout the season. Buy tickets early to save money.
  • Defeat the crazy surcharges, buy your tickets for face value at AT&T Park's ticket windows, the Dugout Store (ballpark only), or the advance ticket window (if you are in the ballpark on game day).
  • Try your luck with StubHub. Some comes with parking passes, and sometimes the ticketholder will sell it for less than current face value.
  • Keep your eyes peeled on the SF Giants website for random ticket deals throughout the year.
Just Fork It (Food)
  • Want to go super cheap? Bring your own food and sodas. Just be warned, security will confiscate your plastic soda bottle if the tamper evident seal is broken.
  • Bring your own hot dogs, and go for the free (cough!) condiments at the ballpark.
  • Can't beat a hot slice of pizza at Amici's for $5.
  • Safeway's built to order $5 sandwiches are huge and kick ass.
  • Best in the park food: Crazy Crab sandwich (behind scoreboard), Club Level's garlic fries because it's cooked crispy, and seat delivered ice cream sundaes.
Good Seats
  • Without a doubt section 315, view reserved. Best view directly behind home plate.
  • Want to interact with the nastyness of Giants vs. Dodgers games? Always sit in the View Reserved or bleacher sections. You get the nutcases, loud yellers, and jokers. Any other section is just too... well... civilized.
  • It's giveaway day? Bring a paper grocery bag, it's especially helpful for big item giveaways like bobbleheads.
  • If it's a sunny day at the game, bring sunblock. Seriously folks, you'll fry.
  • Free wifi in the park, the best "F" word in town! It's been unreliable and slow for several months and hopefully they'll fix it.
  • Love wearing Giants gear, but don't want to pay full price? Check Amazon and the MLB online shop for occasional sales of all merchandise. You'll pay much more at the ballpark for certain items, example: Giants jacket at ballpark is $165, MLB website costs $124.
  • Get a ticket holder & lanyard. You can't lose your game ticket, and doubles as a transit pass/transfer holder.
Let's go Giants! Clap clap, clap clap clap.

If you are wondering about the photo, I snapped a shot of Larry King at the ballgame in 2007.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dear Washington D.C. Airport Authority...

A lot of us know that Nat Ford's time with Muni is up as Washington D.C. is looking into hiring him. A lot of us don't like the agency (Muni) with the service cuts, an uncontrollable union, safety concerns, late or no-show buses, and that incident when the union told Cable Car operators to boycott (not participate) in the most recent bell ringing contest. It's time to get Nat Ford out of office and get someone more competent to take-over the agency.

The material below is just for laughs, nothing serious, unless if you want it to be.

Have a great Wednesday!


Dear Washington D.C. Airport Authority,

We the citizens of San Francisco highly recommends you hire Nathaniel Ford immediately for the lead position for your airport authority. At the SFMTA, he runs an excellent operation, including the famous Muni service. He has been able to keep the budget intact, maintain reliable service, happy employees, and still offer passengers low fares to ride around the city.

Also, he has been able to maintain an excellent safety record for the transit agency. There have been no major incidents for the longest time.

I believe he would be a great candidate to hire as soon as possible as other agencies in the nation wants to hire him as well.

Happy Citizens of San Francisco


What the letter really meant:

We the citizens of San Francisco highly recommends you hire Nathaniel Ford immediately for the lead position for your airport authority so he can get out of our hands. At the SFMTA, he runs an horrifying operation, including the infamous Muni service. He has been able to keep the budget in the red for years, maintain unreliable service with no-shows and metro derailments, greedy employees with a union so powerful that he can't control them, and raises the prices of passes.

Also, he has been able to maintain a concerning safety record for the transit agency. There have been major incidents regarding the light rail (metro) system, including major derailments, an operator passing-out and slamming into another rail car, poor track maintenance in the Twin Peaks tunnel resulting in much slower trains, and rumors the Twin Peaks and Sunset Tunnels have not been seismically tested.

I believe he would be a great candidate to hire as soon as possible because us San Franciscans are fed-up with him and wants him out of office. We don't want to fire him because we don't want to pay-off his contract, so by making him voluntarily quit SFMTA and get another job is a better deal.

Frustrated like crazy,
Angry Citizens of San Francisco

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Clipper at BART Ticketing Machines: Behind Schedule

I just got word today from Clipper's Facebook page that the activation of BART's ticketing machines to be able to add e-cash value is behind schedule.

The original goal for BART is to have all stations ready by the end of March (as per MTC meeting agenda/notes). The new estimated time of completion will be no later than the end of April.

While Clipper nor BART has an explanation of why there's a delay, I'm disappointed at both agencies. The MTC has been mentioning for months in their Operations Committee agendas that BART will be fully capable to add value at their machines by the end of March. I have a suspicion the last stations that will have Clipper added to their ticketing machines will be the downtown core stations (Embarcadero, Montgomery, Powell, and Civic Center) because passengers can go to Muni's ticketing machines as an alternate venue.

While I'm on the topic of BART ticketing machines handling Clipper add value purchases, I hope they go beyond e-cash only purchases and include the purchasing of electronic high value tickets without the need to join the autoload program, and be able to purchase passes and ridebooks too.

Here's the list of stations with Clipper capabilities (in no particular order):
  1. West Dublin/Pleasanton
  2. Glen Park
  3. Pleasant Hill
  4. Rockridge
  5. Balboa Park
  6. Dublin/Pleasanton
  7. Fruitvale
  8. Castro Valley
  9. Union City
  10. Fremont
  11. Pittsburg Bay Point
  12. North Concord/Martinez
  13. Concord
For now, have a great week and stay warm.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Muni Metro's Ticketing Machines are Not User Friendly

The Muni metro station ticketing machines are not too user friendly, especially when they raised the minimum reloading amount for existing Clipper cards from $2 to $5. While you have to punch a bunch of buttons to get what you need, at least it the machines have the capability to purchase new cards, load various amount of e-cash, and purchase any available passes or ridebooks available.

30 Coin Limit?
Last Sunday, I had a bunch of pocket change I wanted to convert into Clipper e-cash, and the experience wasn't as pleasant as I expected. I spent a few minutes at home sorting through all the change and had ten dollars in quarters, just enough to load $10 of Clipper e-cash to my card.

I went to the Powell Street station's Muni ticketing machine with my roll of quarters in hand and told the machine I wanted to load $10 of Clipper e-cash to my existing card. The machine told me to start feeding money into the machine and I started dropping my quarters in there. When I inserted $7.50 in quarters into the machine, it told me to stop feeding coins as I inserted the maximum amount (30 coins), and I was forced to insert a few dollar bills to reach the $10 I told the machine earlier I wanted to insert.

In all fairness, I wish the machine would have told me there was a 30 coin maximum limit. It was Sunday and the bank was closed to exchange my $10 of quarters into bills.

Even more frustrating about the Muni ticketing machines...
The metro ticketing machines doesn't have much flexibility when you want to add Clipper e-cash to your account; before you even insert money into the machine, you have to tell the machine what exact amount you intend to purchase (starting at $5). The choices on the screen are very limited and start off in five dollar increments.

BART's new Clipper purchasing capabilities on their ticketing machines are so much easier. When you buy regular BART tickets, you can adjust the amount you inserted into the machine to get it to the exact value you need (e.g. round trips without residual value left), and since many of the machines now allow Clipper e-cash purchasing, you get that same benefit to adjust how much you want to add to your card. Still, the weakness of BART's ticketing machines with Clipper purchasing is it will only do e-cash purchases only.

Even an in-person vendor can offer you the flexibility because you can tell the vendor what specific amount you want to add and get change for your purchase.

Compare for yourself:
Video footage of a Muni ticketing machine doing a purchase.
Video footage of BART ticketing machine doing the same purchase.


I think Muni should change the way their ticketing machines operate. Why should a passenger be punching a bunch of buttons just to initiate a loading of Clipper e-cash on their existing card and only have a limited choice of what to purchase? Lastly, why raise the minimum reloading from $2 to $5 when BART's can do it for just five cents (yes, I said it, five cents).

Monday, March 14, 2011

What's Up with the Very Slow Muni Metro Rides in the Twin Peaks Tunnel?

How was your weekend? Mine good because I picked-up a couple of sandwiches at Ike's Place (I split a Menage a Trois & 'Hella' Fat Bastard sandwiches with a colleague), and went book shopping down at the liquidated Borders at the Westfield mall in downtown.

Whenever I want to head out to downtown, I park my car nearby St. Francis Circle and take Muni metro's K/T or M lines. But this weekend, the Muni metro was just flat out slow along the Twin Peaks tunnel between Forest Hill and Castro stations.

We all are used to the Twin Peaks tunnel stretch from those two stations and it's always been slow. I'd always feel the brakes kick in every several seconds and feel the train speed-up just briefly. One reason is that Nat Ford admitted during a SFMTA Board meeting the tracks are in poor condition, thereby the trains could not go full speed along the tracks. Back in my younger days about 15 years ago, the metro trains ran in manual, went full speed, and blazed down the Twin Peaks tunnel; but when the automatic system kicked-in and Muni started running the whale trains known as Bredas down the tracks at slower speeds, and it just continuously got slower and slower. But last weekend, it was super slow.

The worst segment is when the inbound metro trains are getting close to Castro station when the straight track starts to curve to the start of the Castro street platform. The trains are now running at a crawl speed vs. a much faster speed like before. It also runs extra slow going outbound from when it leaves Castro station to when it reaches the straight track segment. I've also noticed the trains running slower this weekend along the straight tracks to/from Forest Hill to/from the curve to the Castro station.

Gees Muni, so a big government agency says your trains and rails suck, so you run slower on that segment alone? The rest of the metro track segments on your automatic train system are running at its regular (fast) speeds. Fix the damn tracks or give me a good excuse of why I shouldn't just take BART more often.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Muni "M" Pass on Clipper Card ONLY Starting April 1, 2011

For the tens of thousands of Muni's "M" (Muni Only) pass users using March's paper pass, are you ready for the mandatory switch to a Clipper card starting April 1, 2011?

I hope so!

This is now the time to prepare for the switch. As my former supervisor taught me, early = on time, and on-time = LATE.

Let's go over what you need to do:

Don't have a card? You can get a card at these locations:
  1. Any San Francisco Walgreens location, or select Walgreens locations in the Bay Area.
  2. Any of the other in-person vendors on this list.
  3. A Muni metro station ticketing machine.
  4. Clipper customer service at Embarcadero station (mezzanine level, east gates) and the Bay Crossings booth (a contracted customer service location) in the Ferry Building.
  5. Visit ClipperCard.com and order one (but do it earlier than later).
To purchase a pass to be loaded on a Clipper card:
  • Go to an in-person vendor (including Walgreens) and tell them what pass you need.
  • Use a self-service machine like at Muni metro stations or the Temporary Transbay Terminal. BART ticketing machines with Clipper purchasing capabilities does not allow pass purchasing.
  • Purchase online at ClipperCard.com, but you must purchase it at least FIVE DAYS before the new month starts.
Forms of payment:
  • In-person vendor: Cash and sometimes a credit or debit card.
  • Walgreens: Cash and commuter benefit paper vouchers.
  • Self-service machines: Cash, debit, credit cards, and commuter benefit debit cards.
  • ClipperCard.com: Credit, debit, and commuter benefit debit cards.
How to use card:
  1. Buses and metro vehicles: Place card over black sensor zone. Metro gates: Place card on Red/White circular on right hand side of gate.
  2. Hold card until confirmation tone or metro gates open. Never swipe card.
  3. Remove card.
  • I suggest adding some Clipper e-cash value to your card for some flexibility. If you decide you need to ride BART or Caltrain, you have the ability to ride transit with the same card and not worry about exact change.
  • Always tag your card to reader every time you board a vehicle or enter a metro station. Hearing the confirmation tone is the only way the Muni employee can verify you have a valid pass in possession.
  • The card is reusable, so always reload to your plastic card. The card can last many years if it is taken care of. You will destroy the card's internal electronics if you bend it or punch a hole.
  • The card can be scanned through a wallet, purse, pass holder, and other personal items. No need to tag the card 'bare.'
  • Use a label maker or permanent marker and put your name on the back of the card.
  • Register the card on Clipper's website for additional benefits, including balance protection if the card is lost, damaged, or stolen, history report of usage, and loading of funds online.
  • If you constantly forget to buy passes or has to scrounge around the city for a pass vendor at the last minute, sign-up for Clipper's autoload program and passes will be automatically loaded on the card and charged to your credit card on a monthly basis.
Want to learn more about how Clipper works? Read my super detailed expert guide and you'll be ready for Clipper in no time!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Adding Clipper Card E-Cash Now Available at BART Stations (with New Video)

Good news, Clipper e-cash can now be added at select BART stations! During the month of March, BART will be rolling-out this capability on a station-by-station basis and should be completed at all stations by the end of the month. Two stations are currently active: West Dublin/Pleasanton and Glen Park stations. I got an e-mail from a fan saying it's also available at Pleasant Hill station.

The new video I produced and embedded on this blog post will explain how to add e-cash by paying the ticketing machine with cash. You can also use a credit or debit card as an option too.

The BART ticketing machines are very fast and simple for Clipper cards; it fits perfectly like a glove. The menu system is easy to use and you can add any amount you like, from a minimum of five cents to the maximum card balance of $300.00. Plus, if you don't have exact change, no worry, you just push a couple of buttons and get the exact amount you want loaded on your Clipper card (example: I insert a $10, but I want $8 on the card; pushing a couple of buttons will load $8 on the card and give back $2 in change).

The flexibility to select a unique amount of e-cash to the Clipper card is a big plus, in comparison to Muni's ticketing machines at metro stations that forces you to select a certain amount of e-cash value prior to inserting money to the machine. Since Muni raised the minimum e-cash purchase to $5 for reloading the card, you can just find a BART ticketing machine and load any amount that pleases you.

One weakness is the machines can only do e-cash loading, and this means no passes and ridebooks. This is going to be disappointing for those at Millbrae BART/Caltrain because those Caltrain passengers won't be able to buy their passes or 8-rides utilizing a BART ticketing machine. I'm hoping BART will eventually add additional features to the machines so passengers can purchase passes and ridebooks.

On the bright end, at least there will be more places in the Bay Area to add e-cash! Next, the MTC needs to get Clipper self-service machines at Caltrain stations.

UPDATE 3/7 at 9:17AM: Rockridge and Balboa Park stations are now online as per Clipper's twitter account.
UPDATE 3/9 at 2:45PM: Dublin/Pleasanton station now available.
UPDATE 3/11 at 9:48AM: Fruitvale is online. Coming next, Castro Valley.
UPDATE 3/14: As per Clipper's Facebook page, Castro Valley is now online.
UPDATE 3/17: Union City.
UPDATE 3/15: Welcome, Fremont!
UPDATE 3/21: Pittsburg Bay Point, North Concord, and Concord.

Friday, March 4, 2011

March's Clipper Card Updates - Fresh from the MTC Bakery

Muni Clipper Ticketing Machine - Powell Station Main Gates
The MTC's Operations Committee will be meeting on Friday, March 11th at 9:45AM (see agenda). I usually refer to the Operations Committee as the defacto Clipper Card board because they are the ones who review and approve funding proposals, and gets the latest information about what's going on with the Clipper card.

Here's some highlights from agenda item #3:
  • VTA has accepted Clipper cards since February 16th.
  • The two customer service centers at Embarcadero station and Bay Crossings booth at the Ferry Building is open for business.
  • Caltrain ended 8-ride tickets in February and monthly passes starting with the March pass.
  • BART is spending the month of march activating their ticketing machines to also be able to add Clipper e-cash. All stations are to be ready by the end of March.
  • Golden Gate Ferry begun installing their new self-service ticketing machines, but one of the unions for Golden Gate Ferry employees filed a complaint with the federal government about the loss of jobs.
  • Muni will be transitioning the "M" pass to Clipper only and starts with the April pass.

Two big "Contract Actions" the committee must decide on:
  • A "change order" of $450,000 for additional Customer Service center support. The complaints about Caltrain are overwhelming the telephone lines that they need additional people to take-on the help.
  • An amended "change order" of $750,000 for Clipper "implementation, and design improvements, enhancements, and materials." They grossly underestimated how much was needed to properly fund Clipper's needs.

Other Key Items:

Caltrain has been taking a serious toll on Clipper and their customer service areas, and the reason is for the extremely complex system that has to be used. Statistically, Caltrain is only 2% of Clipper's transaction volume, but more than half of the phone calls to the customer service center is about Caltrain problems.

Clipper and the MTC have already taken steps to mitigate the large number of issues with Caltrain passengers:
  1. Refunds are being processed on a modified process where calling a customer service center and successfully appealing the issue will result in the agent authorizing a refund on the spot. This is only temporary and will at least last until April 1st. The normal procedure for a refund can take up to three weeks, if approved.
  2. Clipper's customer service office has hired ten more people to answer calls for the next three months.
  3. MTC and Clipper are spending more on customer education with outreach events, additional banners, labels, stickers and signage, sending e-mails, and modifying the telephone menu to provide Caltrain passengers tips on using the card.
  4. MTC consultants have been riding the trains and observing customers at platforms to find out what problems they are facing.
Lastly, MTC is looking into the possibility of replacing some of the Caltrain ticketing machines with Clipper self-service add value machines so people can purchase their media at the station.

In another topic, a citizen complained to the Operations Committee about having no resolution for disabled passengers' authorized attendants being unable to utilize Clipper. This creates a challenge for the MTC and Clipper because there is no set policy on what should be done on how an attendant can receive the discount fare benefit when accompanying the disabled passenger.

MTC has four proposals to resolve it:
  1. For buses and light rail, attendants pay cash fare (not Clipper e-cash). For BART, passengers will still use the red discount tickets.
  2. The attendant gets their own RTC discount card.
  3. Attendant rides free of charge when accompanied by the disabled passenger.
  4. The disabled passenger is issued two RTC cards, the second card goes to the attendant.


Akit's Opinion
Just today, Clipper announced the Glen Park station's ticketing machines are now able to add Clipper value. The other station that can also add value is at the new West Dublin/Pleasanton station. Let's hope all the stations will be ready by the end of the month.

While I understand the Caltrain system on Clipper is quite complex with a zoning system, 8-rides, monthly passes, minimum balances, and the need to deduct the maximum fare, it really is becoming a big problem. With all the problems, the MTC has to spend more money to get it all fixed and cleaned-up.

Who takes the blame for all these Caltrain issues: MTC/Clipper for setting-up complex policies and no automated add value machines at stations, Caltrain for such a complex fare system, or the passengers for not educating themselves by reading the brochures and noticing the signage near every train door talking about tagging-off?

I don't ride Caltrain on a regular basis, but I know how to use my Clipper card correctly and follow the instructions because I educated myself by reading the brochures and paying attention to the signage telling me what to do. I know that hundreds of people have been reading my blog's article about using Clipper correctly, but I'm not sure how many actually read it thoroughly and followed the steps I told you about. With all honesty, passengers are to blame when they mess-up and not follow the steps they are told to do, and it's not that complicated when you understand the reasons why certain rules needs to be followed. Clipper is to blame if there's a technical glitch, or if the card readers are broken or placed in poor locations.

I'm hoping Clipper will install some add value machines at Caltrain stations (or at least major stations). While the card only accounts for 2% of the overall transactions for Clipper, Walgreens is becoming a popular place to get pain meds and Caltrain passes because you are standing on your feet for a long time in line at the photo counter to add Clipper value.

That's all for now, have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Glory Days of Protesting for Education - Yesterday's Day of Action was Weak!

In light of college and university budget cuts, many students, staff, and faculty decide to organize and have protests. When I look at the "Day of Action" that happened yesterday, there's that feeling that many students, staff, and faculty don't want to participate, and only a couple hundred actually participated at SF State's with only 100 marching from the campus to City College on Ocean Avenue.

Oh the glory days of student protests...
I remember back in March 2003 when a City College student organized one of the biggest rallies ever at the State Capitol building in Sacramento. Literally every single community college in the state participated and was bussed in to march from a parking lot and down the main road to the capitol building. The green circle on the photo is of my sign in Sacramento; I used photos of Governor Gray Davis holding two sub machine guns.

This protest was peaceful, and it was absolutely huge. It got the media's attention and we had tons of politicians on our side, and the protest was such a success that the proposed dramatic budget cuts was drastically reduced.

The next year, Governor Arnold was in his first year in office and we did another march, but since I was now a junior student at SF State, a busload of SF State students joined our community college brothers and sisters for another successful protest in Sacramento. Once again, it was a peaceful event, and I had an absolutely great time.

I'd have to say, those were the glory days of student protests. Large, peaceful, and had a dramatic positive impact on education.

Protests are not the same anymore
A lot of student protests in the past few years have came with a lot of negative publicity, and that bad rap also affects future protests, like yesterday's at SF State.

I'm no fan of building occupations because while it grabs the attention of campus students, staff, and faculty by denying them access to offices, resources, and classrooms, it also shines a bad light on the students trying to make a point that budget cuts are bad.

SF State's Business building's occupation was at the worst time ever, just weeks before final exams for the Fall semester. Sure, there was lots of people barricading the doors, and cheering on the students inside, but it sure pissed a lot of campus folks off that they had to move their office hours to other campus locations and the campus had to spend tons of extra money to relocate classes and have police officers there to finally arrest them.

I remember protesting at SF State when I was a junior (it was a big rally) and students decided to sit in the middle of 19th Avenue and block traffic. I decided to stay on the sidewalk because I thought it is one of the dumbest ideas to block-off traffic on one of the city's biggest corridors. Some even went into buildings and pulled fire alarms to get people to evacuate and join the protesting, and I thought that was a poor decision too.

In Conclusion
When college campuses gets bad raps for protests, nobody wants to be part of it or participate. Sure, I support getting more funding for universities and colleges, but who wants to join a protest where students occupy buildings, get arrested by riot cops, pull fire alarms, and do other stupid stuff?

When campuses have a good reputation of having very peaceful protests, more will participate in future protests because it shines a good image. It's tough to get students to protest as they don't want to miss a class, but when there's a good reputation, professors are more likely to let their students go and participate.