Sunday, December 07, 2014

Translink to Clipper: All-in-One Payment System?

Not long after I moved from the Outer Sunset to Lakeside, I attended my first offsite, informal work-related dinner in downtown San Francisco.

I could have driven directly to the restaurant and cough up about $10 to park in a nearby garage.

But as I now live only a block away from the 'M' Muni Metro stop at 19th Avenue and Holloway Boulevard, I opt for the greener, more economical way to go downtown. I reach into my wallet and pull out a little used Translink card I got about 5-6 years ago.

After I boarded the MUNI Metro streetcar, I tapped the card on the reader 3 times. No luck. A female passenger nicely explained to me Translink cards no longer work on the readers. I then walked up to the front of the car to pay cash for the fare. I didn't have correct change and $5 was the smallest bill I had. Without getting anyone in trouble, all I'll say was that I was able to stay on board.

Once I finished dinner and headed for home, I immediately went to a kiosk at Montgomery Street station and purchased a Clipper card. I walk up to the gate, tap card, wait in boarding area, board street car, and make it home safe and sound.

I go to the Clipper website the next day. I live in the one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world. Here's what I find out when I'm at Clipper's website.
  • I can't transfer funds online from the old Translink card to the new Clipper card.
  • If I cancel the Translink card, I'll lose any remaining funds on it.
  • If I choose to transfer funds, I have to call Customer Service to have this done.
  • I call Customer Service. They confirm transfer can be done. But I'll be charged a $5 processing fee. So what was $13.75 remaining on my Translink card will be $8.75.
Are you serious? 

All this because my Translink card no longer works, despite Clipper's claims otherwise. 

Please fix this. If nothing else, waive the $5 transfer fee. This experience only reinforces the poor reputation the San Francisco Bay Area public transportation systems always seem to have.

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