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Hang on to your FastPasses, kids — in a year at the earliest, they will likely join GameBoys, Betamax and Walkmen: antiquated relics of a technology stone age.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will replace all existing fare gates at its Muni underground stations with TransLink-only fare gates by fall 2010 at the earliest, according to a memo sent to the Board of Supervisors. While no final decision’s been made, this likely means the end of magnetized FastPasses as well, according to Muni spokesman Judson True.

While TransLink customers make up only 6,000 of the 700,000 daily Muni boardings, the MTA expects TransLink traffic “to increase significantly” now that BART began accepting TransLink on August 3, the MTA wrote in its memo to the Board. Replacing all faregates with TransLink-only gates could also fix up some passenger-flow problems in the underground stations: some exit-only gates were retrofitted to be TransLink-entry gates. New gates mean this problem will be over.

Replacing the gates will cost $30 million – but not $30 million to the MTA. Only about $300,000 will come out of the MTA’s pockets (or out of Prop K sales tax monies, specifically). $11 million will come from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act cash; another $15 million will come from other federal grants (or we hope so anyway: there’s $7.5 million awarded thus far, with another $7.5 million to come next month, the MTA hopes; and the MTA is also banking on $3.5 million from the generous, generous state of California).

That’ll pay for 98 new underground fare gates, 40 fare vending machines and 16 new agent control terminals at Embarcadero through West Portal, according to the MTA memo. Another $3 million is set aside to pay for outdoor vending machines at street level, but those will only be built if the MTA can find room. Otherwise, you keep the money, Lebowski.

FastPasses will still be sold, according to Muni spokesman Judson True, but not in the shiny, demagnetize-able cardboard form we know and love today. “Remember you can load a FastPass onto a Translink card,” True reminded us. This will mean that instead of waving your Fast Pass (or brightly-colored construction paper) at a bus driver, you will instead wave your TransLink card in front of a transponder, wait for a BEEP, then board the bus. Fare inspectors have TransLink readers as well, meaning that a mere glance at your FastPass won’t be enough to pay those pipers anymore.

The contract will be awarded pending approval of the deal by the Board of Supervisors, which could happen as early as next week. The fare gates will be replaced by fall 2010 at the earliest, True said.

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  • Greg Dewar

    This is why I like the Appeal. This is vital information for my daily life, and that of my friends and coworkers. you guys got it first and reported it in a way that is easy to understand. Thank you!

  • Greg Dewar

    This is why I like the Appeal. This is vital information for my daily life, and that of my friends and coworkers. you guys got it first and reported it in a way that is easy to understand. Thank you!

  • hint: don’t rquire sign up for comments

    This would be great news if the TransLink cards didn’t break every 30 days and if the vendor’s policies weren’t set up to harry the customer

  • hint: don’t rquire sign up for comments

    This would be great news if the TransLink cards didn’t break every 30 days and if the vendor’s policies weren’t set up to harry the customer

  • sfresident

    But are they going to put translink on cable cars? One of the fun perks of the fast-pass was the included cable car rides. The California line is usually the quickest MUNI line from the ferry plaza to nob hill – if they don’t allow translink fast passes on these cars they’ll be significantly reducing their functionality…

  • sfresident

    But are they going to put translink on cable cars? One of the fun perks of the fast-pass was the included cable car rides. The California line is usually the quickest MUNI line from the ferry plaza to nob hill – if they don’t allow translink fast passes on these cars they’ll be significantly reducing their functionality…

  • Greg Dewar

    @sfresident:oooh good point. Shit I forgot about that. Yeah, that would suck ass. I mean, when I was house sitting on the Hyde Line, I just LOVED flashing my FastPass and a) getting props from the cable car guys and b) blowing away minds with the tourists when I explained how a monthly pass gave you free play on the Cable Cars!

    Damn. Now I’m worried. But again, thanks to the Appeal we at least can raise Hell about this potential FAIL.

  • Greg Dewar

    @sfresident:oooh good point. Shit I forgot about that. Yeah, that would suck ass. I mean, when I was house sitting on the Hyde Line, I just LOVED flashing my FastPass and a) getting props from the cable car guys and b) blowing away minds with the tourists when I explained how a monthly pass gave you free play on the Cable Cars!

    Damn. Now I’m worried. But again, thanks to the Appeal we at least can raise Hell about this potential FAIL.

  • theo

    I hope the guy who puts up those fliers has accumulated enough FastPasses for his art project.

  • theo

    I hope the guy who puts up those fliers has accumulated enough FastPasses for his art project.

  • Akit

    From what I’ve read on the recent Translink managers’ meeting, Muni is proposing to install new station gates that must accept pre-paid tickets at vending machines just outside of the gates.

    Translink is going to budget out money for “limited use” Translink cards that are issued by the vending machines and are usable for the metro gates, but I’m assuming the limited use cards could also be used for any Muni vehicles.

    Based on what Muni is trying to tell us, it’s time to start signing-up for a Translink card now; Washington DC’s Smart Trip cards ran short when they started making it mandatory to pay for parking.

    As for the Cable Car concern, Translink is planning to use a mobile device to deduct fares since installing the equipment on Cable Cars could be a violation of being a historic landmark.

    My question now, will they have a formal procedure for paying Translink fares when leaving AT&T Park? For now, you show the card to the fare inspector at the entrance, and tag on the sardine packed train.

  • Akit

    From what I’ve read on the recent Translink managers’ meeting, Muni is proposing to install new station gates that must accept pre-paid tickets at vending machines just outside of the gates.

    Translink is going to budget out money for “limited use” Translink cards that are issued by the vending machines and are usable for the metro gates, but I’m assuming the limited use cards could also be used for any Muni vehicles.

    Based on what Muni is trying to tell us, it’s time to start signing-up for a Translink card now; Washington DC’s Smart Trip cards ran short when they started making it mandatory to pay for parking.

    As for the Cable Car concern, Translink is planning to use a mobile device to deduct fares since installing the equipment on Cable Cars could be a violation of being a historic landmark.

    My question now, will they have a formal procedure for paying Translink fares when leaving AT&T Park? For now, you show the card to the fare inspector at the entrance, and tag on the sardine packed train.

  • Xenu

    Does anybody else think they should, you know, make Translink work 100% of the time before they roll it out to 100% of Muni’s patrons?

    I give them about a month into this before they reverse their decision.

  • Xenu

    Does anybody else think they should, you know, make Translink work 100% of the time before they roll it out to 100% of Muni’s patrons?

    I give them about a month into this before they reverse their decision.

  • Belgand

    While it’s nice to know that now we’ll only be about ten years behind the rest of the world in this respect (isn’t it always fun how despite being at the center of the world for technology we’re almost always terribly behind the times in official capacities?) I have to worry about how this is going to actually work.

    Despite plenty of time in various testing periods both official and unofficial the machines often have problems. I’ve had a number of times when I’ve gotten onto a bus to find a reader that doesn’t work or is turned off.

    Likewise it often takes a bit of time and effort to get it to read correctly. Keeping the card in a wallet is sometimes more of a problem than it ought to be given the technology. Even when the bare card is used it still has some trouble reading and takes a bit of time. Compared to flashing a pass at the largely indifferent driver this could create problems with congestion and slower loading.

    Finally, how will this work with Commuter Checks? My girlfriend commutes daily on both BART and Muni and while something like this would be great for her you can’t use the paper Commuter Checks her work provides to add value to the card or pay for things like recurring FastPasses. Making people hold on to an outdated technology for this sort of reason is pretty problematic and will hurt widespread adoption.

    Still, it’s nice that we’ll finally have a rechargeable card option that works on multiple transit services. NYC introduced MetroCard in ’94 and discontinued everything else in ’03, Paris moved to the Navigo in ’01, Oyster in London in ’03, Hong Kong’s Octopus in ’97… among many others. We started the project back in ’93 and now it might actually start working just 17 years later.

    Now we just need to get NextBus (who is even local) to actually start working in a reliable fashion.

  • Belgand

    While it’s nice to know that now we’ll only be about ten years behind the rest of the world in this respect (isn’t it always fun how despite being at the center of the world for technology we’re almost always terribly behind the times in official capacities?) I have to worry about how this is going to actually work.

    Despite plenty of time in various testing periods both official and unofficial the machines often have problems. I’ve had a number of times when I’ve gotten onto a bus to find a reader that doesn’t work or is turned off.

    Likewise it often takes a bit of time and effort to get it to read correctly. Keeping the card in a wallet is sometimes more of a problem than it ought to be given the technology. Even when the bare card is used it still has some trouble reading and takes a bit of time. Compared to flashing a pass at the largely indifferent driver this could create problems with congestion and slower loading.

    Finally, how will this work with Commuter Checks? My girlfriend commutes daily on both BART and Muni and while something like this would be great for her you can’t use the paper Commuter Checks her work provides to add value to the card or pay for things like recurring FastPasses. Making people hold on to an outdated technology for this sort of reason is pretty problematic and will hurt widespread adoption.

    Still, it’s nice that we’ll finally have a rechargeable card option that works on multiple transit services. NYC introduced MetroCard in ’94 and discontinued everything else in ’03, Paris moved to the Navigo in ’01, Oyster in London in ’03, Hong Kong’s Octopus in ’97… among many others. We started the project back in ’93 and now it might actually start working just 17 years later.

    Now we just need to get NextBus (who is even local) to actually start working in a reliable fashion.

  • Shameless

    @SFResident: I’ve been a Translink user for a couple years. Since the MUNI trial period started, MUNI has allowed users to load a FastPass onto a Translink account. So you have two options for your $55: load a FastPass for unlimited travel for a month, or load $55 in value that doesn’t expire. When tagging the card on a Cable Car reader (whether mounted or handheld), it’ll be able to tell whether you’ve loaded a FastPass or simply have value. Thus, I expect the system will remain unchanged: the ride will be free if you have a FastPass; otherwise, $5 will be deducted.

    @Begland: You can load value on a Translink card with commuter checks at a few places in SF. I go to the MTA office on Van Ness near Market (conveniently around the corner from my office). The Golden Gate Ferry terminal near Embarcadero can also do this. Right now Translink has two levels of service; the one for larger companies allows automatic, electronic value loading for a number of agencies, but the paper check service (which my company uses) requires handing it over to a clerk somewhere. A drag, yes.

    I noticed when BART announced they were finally rolling out Translink recently that they’re not allowing high-value bonuses on Translink purchases (for example, I can buy a $48 BART ticket for $45, getting $3 in bonus fare for free). I can’t see how BART can implement this program under Translink unless they get *all* participating agencies to do the same; otherwise, a disproportionate number of users would likely go to BART to load value and get the bonus, and then use it on other agencies’ systems. So for now, I’m actually sticking with magnetic BART tickets, cos, hey, $3!

  • Shameless

    @SFResident: I’ve been a Translink user for a couple years. Since the MUNI trial period started, MUNI has allowed users to load a FastPass onto a Translink account. So you have two options for your $55: load a FastPass for unlimited travel for a month, or load $55 in value that doesn’t expire. When tagging the card on a Cable Car reader (whether mounted or handheld), it’ll be able to tell whether you’ve loaded a FastPass or simply have value. Thus, I expect the system will remain unchanged: the ride will be free if you have a FastPass; otherwise, $5 will be deducted.

    @Begland: You can load value on a Translink card with commuter checks at a few places in SF. I go to the MTA office on Van Ness near Market (conveniently around the corner from my office). The Golden Gate Ferry terminal near Embarcadero can also do this. Right now Translink has two levels of service; the one for larger companies allows automatic, electronic value loading for a number of agencies, but the paper check service (which my company uses) requires handing it over to a clerk somewhere. A drag, yes.

    I noticed when BART announced they were finally rolling out Translink recently that they’re not allowing high-value bonuses on Translink purchases (for example, I can buy a $48 BART ticket for $45, getting $3 in bonus fare for free). I can’t see how BART can implement this program under Translink unless they get *all* participating agencies to do the same; otherwise, a disproportionate number of users would likely go to BART to load value and get the bonus, and then use it on other agencies’ systems. So for now, I’m actually sticking with magnetic BART tickets, cos, hey, $3!

  • rbuckner

    the article fails to mention that the new single ride tickets aren’t recyclable, and that discount fare tickets may not be sold from the new machines.

  • rbuckner

    the article fails to mention that the new single ride tickets aren’t recyclable, and that discount fare tickets may not be sold from the new machines.