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A celebration is better than none at all, right? Reader Al emails to remind us that Muni began its beta implementation of TransLink a year ago on December 10, 2008. While there’s no word yet on when that beta period will end, the little green card’s getting at least one gift: a nearly million dollar name change.

But first, a walk down memory lane! For what a year it’s been, what with a deployment on BART and CalTrain, an announcement that the cards would displace the FastPass, plans for new faregates capable of tracking your movements, and rumors of SFPD abuse of the system.

And coming up next, it’s a new name for the Daly-adored TL! As noted by Akit, the MTC would like to “re-launch TransLink as an improved product and better establish the brand with the Bay Area public” via a name change for the card as used in these here parts.

Yup! They want to call it “Clipper,” because it evokes “the historic connection between Clipper ships and the development of San Francisco.” Because who doesn’t love to be reminded of the “golden age of sailing” when packed into the 38? Better names are encouraged in the comments, of course.

Of course, they’ll need to change the branding on all the TransLink machines everywhere, which the MTC expects to spend about $500K on. An additional $475K will be spent at Swirl Integrated Marketing (sadly, their site seems to be broken or dead) “to enable development of new brochures and other customer communication tools that reflect the new brand.” Yup! Nearly a million bucks to change TransLink’s local name!

And but when will TransLink’s Muni training wheels be taken off? We don’t know, and our email to MTA spokesperson Judson True hasn’t gotten a response yet.

When it does, we’ll update, but until then: the Appeal’s one year anniversary will be March 9, and we’re NOT EVEN IN BETA. So start your shopping today!

Update: MTA spokesperson Judson True debates our use of the term “beta,” saying that TransLink is “in the testing phase.” So what’s keeping it there? “We have limited ability to add TransLink technology to the current faregates” True says “so we can’t have full implementation until after those are replaced at the end of next year.”

Since we had him on the phone, we asked True if Muni was footing any of the bill for the upcoming TransLink rebranding. “I don’t know” said True “I’ll look into that.”

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

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