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This summer’s been a summer of milestones for TransLink, the universal smart-card technology that, once fully implemented, will allow Bay Area transit riders to carry just one fare card — just one! — for trips involving cable cars, ferry boats, BART trains and whatever else regional transit authorities can muster.

TransLink’s been available on Muni as part of its trial phase for about a year. In June, TransLink users accounted for about 4500 of Muni’s 600,000-plus daily boardings; by August, that number had jumped to 7300, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Carter Rohan.

That’s a jump of nearly 57 percent, Rohan pointed out, but the MTA is nothing if not ambitious. By next year — when all Muni Metro faregates will be replaced with TransLink-only gates starting with Forest Hill in June, and when MTA hopes to phase out the paper FastPass by the end of the yearMTA hopes that 7300 will grow to a minimum of 120,000, MTA officials said on Tuesday.

That 120,000 isn’t a magic number, MTA spokesman Judson True was quick to point out — MTA doesn’t need to hit that number to fulfill its contract or unlock any bonus levels. But it does need that many boardings in order to “have significant penetration into the system,” True said. It also becomes more cost-effective — the more riders who use TransLink, the lower the per-boarding transaction fee, according to John Goodwin, of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

“It’s an ambitious goal, but not unrealistic,” said Goodwin, whose organization is the regional authority overseeing TransLink. “Muni is by far the biggest transit operator in the Bay Area, and their use of TransLink will be an impetus” for many other transit riders all over the 415, 510 and 650 to ditch their outmoded fare cards for TransLink.

Still, 7300 boardings is “less than 1 percent of our riders,” MTA Board member Cameron Beach observed on Tuesday. “I’m concerned about going from less than 8,000 boardings to a minimum of 120,000 in a very short time.”

Of course, switching the faregates to TL-only and phasing out FastPasses, paper transfers and farebooks will help persuade passengers to do the switch — much like eliminating Marlboros and Camels would convince a smoker to switch to American Spirits (unless they could bum a Winston from someone, we guess).

Some more numbers:Regionally, over 30,000 passengers use TransLink, Goodwin told us. And once Muni gets to its 120,000 benchmark, the MTC hopes to have about 600,000 people on the TransLink bandwagon at the same time.

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  • Jamison Wieser

    Translink’s been working (we’ll use the term loosely) on Muni for a while, but on BART for only the last month and then with plenty of qualifiers about it still be a limited rollout.

    I’ve heard from quite a few people who use their FastPass to ride BART that’s been the deal killer. It’s a disincentive to “upgrade” to a universal fare system if you are paying the same, but can no longer use BART or the Cable Cars.

    Once BART officially switches to Translink usage will jump.

  • Jamison Wieser

    Translink’s been working (we’ll use the term loosely) on Muni for a while, but on BART for only the last month and then with plenty of qualifiers about it still be a limited rollout.

    I’ve heard from quite a few people who use their FastPass to ride BART that’s been the deal killer. It’s a disincentive to “upgrade” to a universal fare system if you are paying the same, but can no longer use BART or the Cable Cars.

    Once BART officially switches to Translink usage will jump.

  • cv

    This is all under the assumption that Muni and BART won’t kill/maim/injure enough riders before reaching that lofty goal.

    Wise people will bet that they will not make their number.

  • cv

    This is all under the assumption that Muni and BART won’t kill/maim/injure enough riders before reaching that lofty goal.

    Wise people will bet that they will not make their number.

  • Amanda

    Will everyone need a card? What happens if you are not normally a transit rider but a certain situation calls for the use of Muni or BART – can you get an on-the-spot proof of payment?

  • Amanda

    Will everyone need a card? What happens if you are not normally a transit rider but a certain situation calls for the use of Muni or BART – can you get an on-the-spot proof of payment?

  • cv

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a public transit system that didn’t allow purchase of a single-use ticket with cash.

    Smart card technology is supposed to be a convenience for frequent users. Rather than count out $8.35 in change, you can just swipe your card (or in Japan, you just wave your cellphone over the sensor because contactless payment is so much more cleaner than touching some yucky card reader).

  • cv

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a public transit system that didn’t allow purchase of a single-use ticket with cash.

    Smart card technology is supposed to be a convenience for frequent users. Rather than count out $8.35 in change, you can just swipe your card (or in Japan, you just wave your cellphone over the sensor because contactless payment is so much more cleaner than touching some yucky card reader).

  • Kellell

    I love, love, love my TransLink card. I don’t use BART regularly, but I understand that it’s been activated for a while now, too. And, CV, you don’t have to touch “some yucky card reader,” you simply tap your card on it. Now if you’re card is yucky, I can’t help you there. 😉

  • Kellell

    I love, love, love my TransLink card. I don’t use BART regularly, but I understand that it’s been activated for a while now, too. And, CV, you don’t have to touch “some yucky card reader,” you simply tap your card on it. Now if you’re card is yucky, I can’t help you there. 😉

  • Kellell

    *your*

  • Kellell

    *your*