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It was a delightful spring afternoon yesterday as attendees gathered for an informal Muni crawl, organized on Facebook and intended to build community and awareness. The event attracted RSVPs from 38 proud Translink users — or “Trannies,” if you will — all of whom were eager to publicly exhibit their new equipment. The event was a huge success, with everyone’s Translink passes allowing them to do just that: pass.

The Translink program is finally coming to fruition, after two decades and many tens of millions of dollars. Riders can load up the flashy green cards with cash before riding, and then fob on and off of transit vehicles just like many of us have been doing at work for years. And according to the ALCU, the cards also allow transit agencies to pass along riders’ itineraries to law enforcement agencies, which should help them finally capture the notoriously transit-dependent Hamburglar.

Translink is up and running on AC Transit and Golden Gate Transit, and is now spreading to its next agency: Muni, which recently posted helpful signs reading “Translink is not yet ready for use.”

Of those 37 online RSVPs for Sunday’s crawl, only seven people were capable of making the leap to meatspace; and so it was that a rag-tag sausagefest assembled at the Ferry Building Sunday afternoon to hop onto an F-line car. The loud beeps of the Tranlink transponders raised a few eyebrows, and the driver looked perplexed, but the machinery all behaved as designed. Over the next hour and a half, the group transitioned away from F, taking a 21, then an L, then a 5, a 38, a 49 and finally a K, concluding the voyage at Orphan Andy’s in the Castro.

“I feel like that was a success,” said unofficial leader Mike over buffalo wings. There wasn’t a single glitch over the course of the crawl, with Translink checkins totalling nearly 50. Outside of the crawl, Mike estimated that the system worked about 90% of the time for him, and co-Trannies Matthew and Kenny agreed. Also present were famous muckraker Akit (here’s his piece on the event), as well as consultants and transit enthusiasts Anthony and Trevor. A delightful time was had by all.

Ready to become a Translink user yourself? It’s a simple operation: you can order a card right now from Translink for $5, or if you’re willing to wait a bit longer, you can order one from Muni for free. (We requested on from Muni two weeks ago — still waiting.) The real test of the system will come when it integrates with BART’s already-successful smart-card program, which many observers expect to happen within our lifetimes. Something to look forward to!

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  • Eve Batey

    10 minutes after I finished editing this piece, ABC7 News said BART expects to start a slow roll-out of TL in June. They did not specify a year.

  • Eve Batey

    10 minutes after I finished editing this piece, ABC7 News said BART expects to start a slow roll-out of TL in June. They did not specify a year.

  • Akit

    Very interesting Eve! I’m betting BART didn’t want to specify a year so that people like me won’t go after them for breaking promises. As one of my fellow riders said, BART is dragging their feet on this project.

  • Akit

    Very interesting Eve! I’m betting BART didn’t want to specify a year so that people like me won’t go after them for breaking promises. As one of my fellow riders said, BART is dragging their feet on this project.

  • Akit

    The local news media is hounding the BART-Translink news this morning:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/22/BARE16KHHH.DTL
    http://www.thepaypers.com/news/article.aspx?cid=737610

    I also have extra pics and videos of the event:
    Photos and unedited video footage of the event
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/agentakit/sets/72157615775883330/

    A nice youtube edited video of the event (great in high quality!):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oe7xBMLG7I

  • Akit

    The local news media is hounding the BART-Translink news this morning:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/22/BARE16KHHH.DTL
    http://www.thepaypers.com/news/article.aspx?cid=737610

    I also have extra pics and videos of the event:
    Photos and unedited video footage of the event
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/agentakit/sets/72157615775883330/

    A nice youtube edited video of the event (great in high quality!):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oe7xBMLG7I

  • Eve Batey

    To be fair, they probably did mean this year. I just don’t want to get my hopes up: the TL card is so convenient on the bus, I am looking forward to using it on BART maybe a little too much. Great video, BTW!

  • Eve Batey

    To be fair, they probably did mean this year. I just don’t want to get my hopes up: the TL card is so convenient on the bus, I am looking forward to using it on BART maybe a little too much. Great video, BTW!

  • Akit

    I’m already working on my next blog entry about this, and putting out questions to Translink and BART to clarify some of the odd questions that the “transmen” were pondering yesterday about.

  • Akit

    I’m already working on my next blog entry about this, and putting out questions to Translink and BART to clarify some of the odd questions that the “transmen” were pondering yesterday about.