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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