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Monday, July 11, 2011

Cable Car Conductors Can't Make Change Due to Fare Hike

San Francisco - California Cable Car Line
This is one of those rare moments when I have to sympathize with Muni employees for the job they do.

For the past few weekends, I've been chatting with Cable Car conductors up and down the Mason, Hyde, and California street lines to get their take about the new $6 single ride fare hike that started on July 1st.

Here's what came out of some of those conversations:
  1. A conductor didn't like the $6 hike because it annoys him that he will now have to spend much more time collecting cash and giving change, versus the old $5 fare that was much easier to collect. A conductor's job is not just to collect the cash, but to also be the rear brakeman, whether it be the crank on the Hyde and Mason lines, or the main brake lever on the California line. By taking more time collecting cash and giving change, conductors will have to skip a bunch of passengers paying for their ride to make activating the brake a bigger priority.
  2. Another conductor I chatted with said he has constantly ran out of dollar bills. The old $5 fare was so much easier because making change was so much faster. By making it $6, he has to constantly give out $4 in single dollar bills in change (when paying $10), therefore he runs out of singles rapidly. He'd like the old $5 fare back, if it was ever possible. He also told me that he regularly has to ask passengers paying with a $20 to tack on an extra dollar so he can give $15 in change.

I know what you are saying... the Cable Cars are for tourists willing to dish out the big dough to ride such a short ride. But what's it worth when conductors quickly run out of dollar bills to make change? Conductors could beg passengers for more singles, let the passenger ride for $5, or just let the person go for free. Does Muni expect their conductors to carry several stacks of $1 bills at one time to handle the tourists on the busy days?

On the other hand, the fare hike has allowed Muni to make more money; the sales booth at the Powell/Market turnaround has plenty of money to accommodate the $6 fare, and whatever the conductors collect means more revenue.

What's your take? Fare hike worth it, or just a waste of time?


Anonymous said...

Surely when fares were $3, there was a similar issue?

Akit said...

At least with the $3 fare, a conductor has to give half the amount that's needed to make change, vs. today's fare.

Connor said...

Also, with the $5 fare it was easy to multiply for several passengers. Now, $6 is gonna throw them for a loop!

Tom Becker said...

Yeah, they should just raise the price to $10.