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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.

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