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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 eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • PhilD

    I hate the name TransLink and am glad to hear they are changing it. But Clipper? Really?

    Why not something simple and obvious like “BayLink”?

  • PhilD

    I hate the name TransLink and am glad to hear they are changing it. But Clipper? Really?

    Why not something simple and obvious like “BayLink”?

  • Greg Dewar

    I could give a hoot what the frakking name of it is, so long as it works. Put the million to better use. this has been a day of bad transit news…first that lying scumbag James Fang gets made bart president, and now this?

  • Greg Dewar

    I could give a hoot what the frakking name of it is, so long as it works. Put the million to better use. this has been a day of bad transit news…first that lying scumbag James Fang gets made bart president, and now this?

  • datn

    Boy, I sure am glad the Bay Area has an extra million dollars to blow on branding. When I biked home the other night to the Mission from downtown, I failed to see a single homeless person, underpaid cop, or dirty street!

  • datn

    Boy, I sure am glad the Bay Area has an extra million dollars to blow on branding. When I biked home the other night to the Mission from downtown, I failed to see a single homeless person, underpaid cop, or dirty street!

  • Rice Mama

    PhilD,

    There’s already a ferry service called “BayLink” that operates from Vallejo.

  • Rice Mama

    PhilD,

    There’s already a ferry service called “BayLink” that operates from Vallejo.

  • kl2real

    Are these people high? If they start using one name in one city and another name elsewhere, it’s going to dilute the brand and create confusion. Do we need more confusion about transit in this region? I say spend the “extra” bucks on getting the existing system to work properly and efficiently. I have to repeatedly tap my card almost every time I board, holding up the boarding process. At rush hour, I practically get trampled trying to properly tap my card. Keep the name and make it work properly. ENOUGH!

  • kl2real

    Are these people high? If they start using one name in one city and another name elsewhere, it’s going to dilute the brand and create confusion. Do we need more confusion about transit in this region? I say spend the “extra” bucks on getting the existing system to work properly and efficiently. I have to repeatedly tap my card almost every time I board, holding up the boarding process. At rush hour, I practically get trampled trying to properly tap my card. Keep the name and make it work properly. ENOUGH!

  • Fred

    Clipper?! A million bucks for that? How about getting the readers to be powered up reliably?

  • Fred

    Clipper?! A million bucks for that? How about getting the readers to be powered up reliably?

  • Akit

    Never had that problem. Easiest thing to do is to keep the card steady and hold it there until it gives the OK (it’s only about an extra 1/4 to 1/2 second). Quickly tapping it or waiving it around won’t do crap.

  • Akit

    Never had that problem. Easiest thing to do is to keep the card steady and hold it there until it gives the OK (it’s only about an extra 1/4 to 1/2 second). Quickly tapping it or waiving it around won’t do crap.

  • Alex Zepeda

    First things first.

    The MTC is a San Francisco *BAY AREA* organization, not an SF city one. These changes would be enacted in all of the counties.

    That said, the problem with public transportation is not brand recognition. It’s shitty service. It’s not knowing what the current Golden Gate Transit schedule is because it changes so frequently. It’s having to make a 2+ hour trip because timed transfers are something GGT doesn’t believe in (the 101 is the worst joke ever). It’s having to put up with smelly violent bums on MUNI. It’s being able to outrun MUNI at a slow walking pace… uphill… in the cold.

    Useful changes the MTC could make to TL:

    – Implement a lowest daily price system like Oyster does with the tube (but not the buses, alas). GGT sells day passes, MUNI used to (still does?), the rest ought to consider it.

    – Implement the ability to buy a monthly pass with your eCash (if this is already allowed, fix the web site).

    – Implement BART parking

    – Implement on demand card history reports (w/o the two+ week delay)

    The MTC has plenty of other issues they could spend some cash and attention on like:’

    – Encouraging interagency cooperation:
    – Timed transfers between agencies
    – Getting rid of the bullshit BART premium on the FastPass (especially as MUNI just cut service across the board)
    – Getting the Daly City BART station on the FastPass to aid all of the SFSU students who pay through the nose for BART because MUNI is so unreliable
    – Cleaning up the existing transbay terminal
    – Congestion pricing on the bridges

    Nobody, except the marketing folks, has a care in the world for the branding. It’s a waste of money and they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

  • Alex Zepeda

    First things first.

    The MTC is a San Francisco *BAY AREA* organization, not an SF city one. These changes would be enacted in all of the counties.

    That said, the problem with public transportation is not brand recognition. It’s shitty service. It’s not knowing what the current Golden Gate Transit schedule is because it changes so frequently. It’s having to make a 2+ hour trip because timed transfers are something GGT doesn’t believe in (the 101 is the worst joke ever). It’s having to put up with smelly violent bums on MUNI. It’s being able to outrun MUNI at a slow walking pace… uphill… in the cold.

    Useful changes the MTC could make to TL:

    – Implement a lowest daily price system like Oyster does with the tube (but not the buses, alas). GGT sells day passes, MUNI used to (still does?), the rest ought to consider it.

    – Implement the ability to buy a monthly pass with your eCash (if this is already allowed, fix the web site).

    – Implement BART parking

    – Implement on demand card history reports (w/o the two+ week delay)

    The MTC has plenty of other issues they could spend some cash and attention on like:’

    – Encouraging interagency cooperation:
    – Timed transfers between agencies
    – Getting rid of the bullshit BART premium on the FastPass (especially as MUNI just cut service across the board)
    – Getting the Daly City BART station on the FastPass to aid all of the SFSU students who pay through the nose for BART because MUNI is so unreliable
    – Cleaning up the existing transbay terminal
    – Congestion pricing on the bridges

    Nobody, except the marketing folks, has a care in the world for the branding. It’s a waste of money and they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

  • Alex Zepeda

    BTW, Chris Daly and John Rubin are essentially the only people representing SF on the MTC board.

    http://www.mtc.ca.gov/about_mtc/commphot.htm

  • Alex Zepeda

    BTW, Chris Daly and John Rubin are essentially the only people representing SF on the MTC board.

    http://www.mtc.ca.gov/about_mtc/commphot.htm

  • antfaber

    Clipper as in clip joint and clipped coins?

  • antfaber

    Clipper as in clip joint and clipped coins?

  • Jimbo

    How about TrannyLink?

  • Jimbo

    How about TrannyLink?

  • SF94122

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone successfully use translink on Muni.

  • SF94122

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone successfully use translink on Muni.

  • kl2real

    Thanks for those step by step instructions. Do you think I’m an idiot? I know how to do it, and it is slow to respond or non-responsive. The conductor/agents just waive me through when this happens, which leads me to believe it’s not just me. When implemented system-wide (and the paper passes are eliminated) it will cause massive boarding delays. I have the same problem on Muni and BART, and those BART bitches don’t wait 1/4 to 1/2 second for nobody!

  • kl2real

    Thanks for those step by step instructions. Do you think I’m an idiot? I know how to do it, and it is slow to respond or non-responsive. The conductor/agents just waive me through when this happens, which leads me to believe it’s not just me. When implemented system-wide (and the paper passes are eliminated) it will cause massive boarding delays. I have the same problem on Muni and BART, and those BART bitches don’t wait 1/4 to 1/2 second for nobody!

  • Akit

    To answer your question. Yes, I think so.

  • Akit

    To answer your question. Yes, I think so.

  • kl2real

    You’re getting a sack of coal for Christmas, but at least you won’t freeze to death. Pity.

  • kl2real

    You’re getting a sack of coal for Christmas, but at least you won’t freeze to death. Pity.

  • Belgand

    At $70,000 plus benefits starting salary I certainly wouldn’t call the police underpaid. Massively overpaid is much more like it.

    I use TransLink more or less exclusively for riding Muni and I have to agree that service has just kept getting worse. When it wasn’t yet in the official testing phase the machines tended to work fairly well. Sure, it wasn’t technically supported, but the readers were there and I almost never had any problems. Since they’ve moved to the testing phase, however, it seems like the machines aren’t on at least a quarter of the time.

  • Belgand

    At $70,000 plus benefits starting salary I certainly wouldn’t call the police underpaid. Massively overpaid is much more like it.

    I use TransLink more or less exclusively for riding Muni and I have to agree that service has just kept getting worse. When it wasn’t yet in the official testing phase the machines tended to work fairly well. Sure, it wasn’t technically supported, but the readers were there and I almost never had any problems. Since they’ve moved to the testing phase, however, it seems like the machines aren’t on at least a quarter of the time.

  • Greg Dewar

    That picture of John Rubin is wayyyy old. He’s a good guy though. He used to work for quentin kopp.

  • Greg Dewar

    That picture of John Rubin is wayyyy old. He’s a good guy though. He used to work for quentin kopp.