"Akit is the man. He knows Clipper." (spenta)
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"Everyone's favorite volunteer public policy consultant..." (Eve Batey, SF Appeal)
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(Empowered Follower)
"If anyone at City Hall wants to make public transit better for all San Franciscans, it would be wise to follow Akit religiously...
or, better yet, give him a job."
(Brock Keeling, SFist)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Clipper Card Fee $3 - How to Not Pay It

Three Generations of Transit Cards (TransLink Pilot, TransLink, and Clipper) Widescreen
Three Generations of Transit Fare Cards
The MTC has announced the Clipper card will no longer be given out for free starting September 1st.  The new card acquisition fee will be $3 in which they claim will be to cover the costs associated with the procurement of the cards.

Why an acquisition fee?
The acquisition fee has been a hotbed of controversy because the MTC originally proposed the card fee to be $5.  But after filing a required report under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, they decided to drop it down to $3.  It was right in the middle for the agency, it didn't heavily impact people that are disadvantaged, but also didn't give out the cards for free.

The other controversy has been the cards have been treated as an item that can be thrown away.  As you may recall, some people who take longer and more costly trips on public transit have been abusing the system by taking advantage of the card's negative balance policy.  A passenger adds very little money to a card with $0 acquisition fee and riding transit that costs more than what was funded to the card; once it goes negative, the passenger just throws the card in the trash.  Because some people abuse the system this way, the MTC and public transit agencies lose a grand total of $700,000 in transit fares and card procurement costs.  One solution being implemented in the future is to force BART passengers to add funds to their Clipper card at the exitfare machines if there's not enough to cover the ride.

$3 fee to be a failure
In my own opinion, the $3 acquisition fee might be able to stop some people from abusing the negative balance policy, but the MTC is still going to lose money from those who can still take advantage of it.

Here's how simple it is.  Assuming BART is out of the picture, the most expensive transit fare is Caltrain at $12.75 one-way from zones one to six.  If Clipper also implemented a $10 minimum e-cash add on per new card, a passenger must pay $13 ($10 e-cash and $3 new card fee).  That means that while the passenger's one-way ride on Caltrain is paid in full, the passenger still has 25 cents left, therefore he/she can ride any other agency (except BART) for just 25 cents and dump the card in the trash.

UPDATE: Oops, I screwed up.  The new card fee doesn't make the e-cash total $13, it's still $10.  Therefore, if a passenger rides the $12.75 Caltrain ride, the passenger dumps their card in the trash after the first use of the card.

As I've just shown, people can still "save" money while transit agencies lose money.

How not to pay the $3 fee
The MTC is advising people to get the fee waived by ordering their card online and enrolling in the autoload program.  But as we all know too well, autoload has problems, just like the recent report of people whose money was loaded back in 2010 never got charged until just days ago.   So who wants to trust the MTC and Clipper on a piece of junk program?

Of course, the other way to avoid the fee is to get your new Clipper card now until September 1st, but how about after September 1st?

There's still a way to avoid the fee and it takes a little ingenuity.  Just obtain your card online, register a credit card under autoload, and as soon as you get your new card, CANCEL AUTOLOAD.  You see, you get a free card registered under your name (protection in case you lose your card), and you dumped autoload like dumping your date after a horrifying dinner.

Talking about dating... Akit's single!  Ladies, want to date a blogger?  :-)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why I Don't Use Clipper Card's Autoload: 2010 Glitch Now Charging Customers

Clipper on Muni Epic Fail I've warned people before, Clipper card's Autoload program has problems.  But in light of the problems came the worst epic fail of all... being charged on your credit card for a reload of e-cash two years ago.

That's right.  KPIX reported yesterday that the folks at Clipper and MTC noticed a glitch in the system back from 2010.  Clipper card passengers who rode affected vehicles had their funds automatically reloaded for reaching a certain threshold, but the information from the consoles was not transmitted back to Clipper for credit card processing.

Basically, the passengers went off scott free with some free e-cash that was never charged to their linked credit card.

But now that the MTC found out, they are sending notices out to nearly 8,000 Clipper card users that they will get charged for the amount they owe.

Akit's Opinion
I can understand the MTC's point of view of getting back $230,000+ lost dollars, but it took two years?

Let's remember that Clipper card history reports can only be retrieved by customers as far back as 60 days.  The MTC should make an effort to show each customer being billed for the two year old charge to get some kind of documentation back from two years ago.

Now you wonder why I warn people to not use Autoload.  You'll get screwed no matter how long ago it was.  Stick to loading e-cash and passes by going to vendors and self-service machines.  You'll always know that when you load funds, it's both instantly available to use and you get a receipt of your transaction as proof.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Muni Operator Refuses Disabled Passenger to Board Bus - IT WAS ME

Life just bit me in the ass.
On my bad days, I had to wear an orthopedic boot.
Being injured is not fun.  I've been suffering with a foot injury which also causes ankle pain for about a month, and I have to use a cane and ankle brace on most occasions.

Just today, I was waiting for the 38L-Geary Limited going outbound from 20th Avenue and Geary, and here came bus number 6415 approaching the stop.

As I'm waiting on the curb, the bus doesn't even make an attempt to pull to the curb.  He lets the rear doors open to let passengers off and board, but he notices me standing at the front door as I had no choice but to walk ten feet to the bus.

I indicate to him that I want to board the bus.  He refuses to open the doors.  I even said to him that I am disabled and showed my walking cane to him.  Still refuses to board.

I was pissed.  He let others board the back, but refuses to let me in the front?  The bus may have been crowded, but the passengers getting off should have provided enough room for me to get a front seat for the disabled.

And to make matters worse, just before he was able to leave, he briefly opens the front doors, then shuts them.

I've never been so pissed-off at Muni as I am right now.  I've already filed an ADA complaint against them.  Just because I filed a complaint with Muni, odds are, the operator will not be punished.  So what better way than use my blog to further humiliate the driver and this agency.

Info to know:
Line: 38L-Geary Limited
Direction: Outbound to 48th Avenue & Pt. Lobos
Location of incident: 20th Avenue and Geary
Time: Approximately 2:00PM
Bus number: 6415
Operator: Male, Asian, mid age

On a final note, I boarded the next 38L-Geary Limited and behind me was a lady with a walker needing the wheelchair lift.  After I boarded and took a seat near the front, the person sitting on my left commented to the lady needing the wheelchair lift "you've got to be kidding me."  I wanted to slap that person; learn to keep your mouth shut if you don't have something nice to say.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The 2012 Survival Guide to the Outside Lands Festival

Parking HOG - Fail and Pissed Off Staff

Outside Lands is back for the 2012 three day festival starting this Friday and going until Sunday, and you know what that means for us local citizen commuters and people who live nearby... three nightmare days.

This survival guide is NOT for those of you going to the event.  This is for us locals who wants to go on our happy way to other things in life, like our jobs.

Traffic impacts:
If you normally drive north and south through Golden Gate Park, literally every park road entrance in the "Outer" district areas will be closed to traffic starting at 8PM this Thursday.
North-south alternate routes: Great Highway, and Crossover Drive (19th Avenue on Sunset end, and Park Presidio/25th Avenue on Richmond end).  If there's no bad weather or high winds, Upper Great Highway is an excellent alternative than detouring via Sunset Boulevard.

East & West routes: No known traffic closures outside of Golden Gate Park, but if entering or driving through Golden Gate Park on going east or west may experience road closures or detours.
East-West streets to avoid: Lincoln and Fulton.
Better east-west streets to use: Judah and Balboa.

Public transit impacts:
For those of you commuting on Muni lines: 5-Fulton, N-Judah, 71-Height Noriega, 28-19th Avenue, 38-Geary, and 38L-Geary Limited, expect heavy ridership.  Last year, concert goers took the 38 and 38L, which is a decent walk to Golden Gate Park to attend Outside Lands.  To give you an idea, buses packed to maximum capacity and LONG WAIT TIMES.
Alternate public transit routes:
Sunset district: 6-Parnassus, NX-Judah Express, 66-Quintara, 16X-Noriega Express, and 48-Quintara/24th.
Richmond district: 1-California, any weekday peak express buses (1AX/BX, 38AX/BX, 31AX/BX), 31-Balboa,
North-south routes: 18-46th Avenue and 29-Sunset.

Parking impacts:
If you live not far from Golden Gate Park, prepare for hell.  If you have a garage, no problem.  If you park your car on the street, you should park it there on Friday, and don't move the car until Sunday evening.

Blocked driveway?  Call 311.  Outside Lands will have one dedicated SFMTA parking officer and two tow trucks in each affected neighborhood.

Don't let this event ruin your weekend!  For more info, view Outside Land's "311" page: http://www.sfoutsidelands.com/311/