The Appeal’s report on this: Don Your Tin Hat: New Muni Faregates Will Track Your Movements

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced today a plan to install new ticket vending machines and fare gates that only accept the TransLink “smart card” in its nine Muni Metro Stations by fall 2010.

Nathaniel Ford, executive director and CEO of the SFMTA, spoke this afternoon in front of a new fare gate and vending machine, which were on display at the Van Ness Station.

The $29 million project will install 98 fare gate aisles that only accept TransLink cards at the stations, as well as up to 40 new ticket vending machines throughout the city that are compatible with TransLink and will accept cash, debit and credit cards to add value to the cards.

Ford said the new equipment will first be installed at the Forest Hill Station in early 2010, and will gradually be implemented in all nine Muni Metro stations by the fall to replace machines that were installed more than 30 years ago.

“I think everyone who uses the Muni system is well aware that our existing fare gates and fare machines are well past their useful life,” Ford said.

The SFMTA began a trial period in December of allowing TransLink use on Muni vehicles except for cable cars. Right now, only about 6,000 of the 700,000 Muni passenger boardings each day are handled by TransLink.

However, Ford said that “in the next few months we’re really going to be rapidly expanding it and trying to ramp up.”

He said the program significantly cuts down on the agency’s operating expenses by reducing the amount of cash the agency has to handle and cuts down on the amount of ticket stock that it needs to purchase.

Anne Halsted, a commissioner with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said the move is the latest in an effort to streamline travel throughout the Bay Area by letting riders “transfer from system to system without a problem.”

BART began allowing payments through TransLink earlier this month, and Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District vehicles, Golden Gate Transit buses and the Golden Gate Ferry, and the Dumbarton Express, a bus service between the Union City BART station and Palo Alto Caltrain station, also allow use of the cards.

The project is funded in part by $11 million of federal stimulus money.

“This project is a great example of the use of federal stimulus dollars to create jobs and to bring state-of-the-art technology to San Francisco,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.

“We need to re-invest in the infrastructure of the Muni system to fulfill the promise of our Transit First city,” Newsom said.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!