Yesterday was hard for us in the IllumiBARTi, wasn’t it? We thought we were going to know when we could (finally) use our TransLink cards on BART, then that information was snatched away. Snatched!

You might recall that, to try to avoid emails from Akit questioning the aggression of our reporting get to the bottom on a question we’ve been asked several times since this whole waiting game began, we asked BART spokesperson Luna Salaver “Is BART management holding TransLink hostage until after negotiations are completed?”

As you might recall, she said “The status of the TransLink implementation and BART’s current labor negotiations are not related.”

‘Round midnight last night, BART spokesperson Linton Johnson (you know him from teh TV, folks) weighed in, saying “Generally, even if there’s no truth to a rumor, the rumor at least makes logical sense. In this case, however, I don’t see the connection between
contract negotiations and Translink. I’m curious, what would be the connection?” he went on to say “You could say TransLink implementation and labor negotiations have about as
much in common as a lamp post and a rock.”

Hey, you guys, Linton Johnson is curious about theories we’ve all been floating about why TL is taking so godamned long! So here’s what we want you to do — post your “BART is intentionally delaying TransLink because…” conspiracy theory in the comments (or, if you’re shy, email us). Best one, judged by a panel of SF Appeal staffers drinking beers, will win a bunch of Appeal swag.

Tin hats: ON!

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • Akit

    I’ll do this for fun; and if I’m the only person with a theories, I don’t want to win by default.

    I believe BART wants to continue delaying implementation of Translink because:

    1: While Translink cards can be replaced and the balance given back to the new card, lost and stolen BART magnetic tickets can’t be credited to a new ticket and BART makes money on their “float.”

    2: The sassyness of James Fang, the man who called Translink obsolete, but also spent $350,000 on a cell phone RFID program that is doomed to fail. People don’t want to be locked-in with certain cell phones, contracts, and possible service charges by the carrier.

    3: Rival technologies. Before Cubic (BART’s gate manufacturers) purchased ERG (the firm that makes Translink and similar programs like ORCA), the two companies were rivals in the electronic fare card markets. Cubic got the contract to build BART’s gates and rendering ERG helpless to install technology on the new gates; this is why EZrider was created since it runs on Cubic’s card technology. During the term of EZrider, this meant Translink can’t move forward. But now that Cubic bought ERG, it could mean potential or disaster.

  • Akit

    I’ll do this for fun; and if I’m the only person with a theories, I don’t want to win by default.

    I believe BART wants to continue delaying implementation of Translink because:

    1: While Translink cards can be replaced and the balance given back to the new card, lost and stolen BART magnetic tickets can’t be credited to a new ticket and BART makes money on their “float.”

    2: The sassyness of James Fang, the man who called Translink obsolete, but also spent $350,000 on a cell phone RFID program that is doomed to fail. People don’t want to be locked-in with certain cell phones, contracts, and possible service charges by the carrier.

    3: Rival technologies. Before Cubic (BART’s gate manufacturers) purchased ERG (the firm that makes Translink and similar programs like ORCA), the two companies were rivals in the electronic fare card markets. Cubic got the contract to build BART’s gates and rendering ERG helpless to install technology on the new gates; this is why EZrider was created since it runs on Cubic’s card technology. During the term of EZrider, this meant Translink can’t move forward. But now that Cubic bought ERG, it could mean potential or disaster.

  • smi23le

    The hold up seems to be the logistics of installing a Translink on the front door of every house and apartment unit in the Bay Area. When that’s done, you won’t need to show your ID to the police who are accusing you of breaking into your own residence, just swipe your Translink card and it’s all fixed.

    It sure beats having to have a beer with Gavin or Dellums.

  • smi23le

    The hold up seems to be the logistics of installing a Translink on the front door of every house and apartment unit in the Bay Area. When that’s done, you won’t need to show your ID to the police who are accusing you of breaking into your own residence, just swipe your Translink card and it’s all fixed.

    It sure beats having to have a beer with Gavin or Dellums.

  • Translink Insider

    A company called ERG was the MTC contractor who originally deployed Translink years late and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. Translink has been plagued with software problems, hardware glitches and reconciliation issues. Even today, the Translink system does not give agencies the revenue they are owed from Translink transactions. Everyone on the inside knows this, but for obvious reasons MTC is not inclined to go even further over budget to resolve reconciliation issues that always seem to be in their favor.

    Cubic recently acquired Translink operations from a floundering ERG after ERG caused a shitstorm by defaulting on another smart card deployment in Australia. BART and Muni were probably thankful because both agencies have a long-standing relationship with Cubic.

    Ironically BART pushed for Cubic to run Translink at the start back around 1991, but MTC selected Motorola/ERG mostly because they wanted total control over a smart card contractor who had no allegiances with BART. It was an understandable move, but ultimately the wrong one.

    Up until Cubic’s purchase of ERG in July, BART was always quick to talk up Translink failures and blame Cubic rival ERG. Now that Cubic is in charge, that blame game would poison a critical business relationship.

    BART is completely beholden to Cubic to keep their fare system up and running, and no one there wants awkward golf and steak orgies in San Diego (where Cubic is headquartered). That’s why you don’t hear BART talking anymore about the Translink problems that continue to delay their launch. Some of those problems ERG passed on, others BART and Cubic created. Regardless they’re all Cubic problems now.

    And since BART is staying quiet in Cubic’s pocket, MTC will continue to talk up BART’s revenue readyness to keep up the pressure to deploy. MTC is also hoping this new dynamic will allow help them sweep Translink’s problems under the rug once and for all.

  • Translink Insider

    A company called ERG was the MTC contractor who originally deployed Translink years late and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. Translink has been plagued with software problems, hardware glitches and reconciliation issues. Even today, the Translink system does not give agencies the revenue they are owed from Translink transactions. Everyone on the inside knows this, but for obvious reasons MTC is not inclined to go even further over budget to resolve reconciliation issues that always seem to be in their favor.

    Cubic recently acquired Translink operations from a floundering ERG after ERG caused a shitstorm by defaulting on another smart card deployment in Australia. BART and Muni were probably thankful because both agencies have a long-standing relationship with Cubic.

    Ironically BART pushed for Cubic to run Translink at the start back around 1991, but MTC selected Motorola/ERG mostly because they wanted total control over a smart card contractor who had no allegiances with BART. It was an understandable move, but ultimately the wrong one.

    Up until Cubic’s purchase of ERG in July, BART was always quick to talk up Translink failures and blame Cubic rival ERG. Now that Cubic is in charge, that blame game would poison a critical business relationship.

    BART is completely beholden to Cubic to keep their fare system up and running, and no one there wants awkward golf and steak orgies in San Diego (where Cubic is headquartered). That’s why you don’t hear BART talking anymore about the Translink problems that continue to delay their launch. Some of those problems ERG passed on, others BART and Cubic created. Regardless they’re all Cubic problems now.

    And since BART is staying quiet in Cubic’s pocket, MTC will continue to talk up BART’s revenue readyness to keep up the pressure to deploy. MTC is also hoping this new dynamic will allow help them sweep Translink’s problems under the rug once and for all.

  • Greg Dewar

    The conspiracy is far deeper than people realize. Translink is actually owned by a consortium of powerful interests, the same ones who helped Truman sign the treaty with the Roswell aliens back in the 1940s, and to this day are helping the government out by supplying it with advanced technology. Translink is actually being imported from Rigel VII, and the problem is that Rigel VII’s gravity is a bit higher than Earth’s making it difficult to quickly complete the system.

    The other problem is that BART has ties to the Goa’uld, and James Fang is actually a Goa’uld and as we all know, the Trekkies and the SG-1 fans don’t get along. He is trying to get them to use Ancient techonlogy, also incompatible with Translink and Earth Techonology, so he can get in good with Apophis when he and his base ships arrive.

    Anyway.

  • Greg Dewar

    The conspiracy is far deeper than people realize. Translink is actually owned by a consortium of powerful interests, the same ones who helped Truman sign the treaty with the Roswell aliens back in the 1940s, and to this day are helping the government out by supplying it with advanced technology. Translink is actually being imported from Rigel VII, and the problem is that Rigel VII’s gravity is a bit higher than Earth’s making it difficult to quickly complete the system.

    The other problem is that BART has ties to the Goa’uld, and James Fang is actually a Goa’uld and as we all know, the Trekkies and the SG-1 fans don’t get along. He is trying to get them to use Ancient techonlogy, also incompatible with Translink and Earth Techonology, so he can get in good with Apophis when he and his base ships arrive.

    Anyway.