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Per this Muni Diaries post (we’re having trouble accessing that page, pity us and our cruddy DSL! But you can see MD’s post as it appeared in our RSS here), do I need to worry about my TransLink card getting demagnetized?

Nope! According to Sarah, the TransLink rep to whom we spoke, demagnetization is not possible, as the card uses a different type of technology. This PDF from the TransLink site on the history of TL says that the cards did indeed begin as mag-strip cards in the early 90s, but dumped them in favor of a smartcard tech developed in conjunction with the folks from Motorola.

“Cracking’s a much bigger problem,” said Sarah. “If your card acts like it’s been demagnetized, “go to an ad fare machine and choose ‘request balance.’ At that point, your card will get a signal that will get it working again — if it doesn’t, give us a call (877-878-8883) and we’ll look into it or send you a new one.”

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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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  • Leanna Yip

    I was one of the early beta testers, what, 4 years ago (?), and I’ve been through 4 cards now, which I guess isn’t so bad considering how much they went through — AC Transit every morning for about a year, then AC Transit every few days, then AC Transit and/or BART every day since. They’re generally pretty great. But what I don’t like is how much slower they read at the BART turnstiles than a BART ticket, and I’ve definitely noticed in the past 3 or 4 months the “see agent” screen coming up far more than usual.

  • Leanna Yip

    I was one of the early beta testers, what, 4 years ago (?), and I’ve been through 4 cards now, which I guess isn’t so bad considering how much they went through — AC Transit every morning for about a year, then AC Transit every few days, then AC Transit and/or BART every day since. They’re generally pretty great. But what I don’t like is how much slower they read at the BART turnstiles than a BART ticket, and I’ve definitely noticed in the past 3 or 4 months the “see agent” screen coming up far more than usual.

  • Eric Willis

    Sure, they can’t be demagnetized but they function very much like a smartcard from the 80s.

    It doesn’t seem to be just me (from seeing other people have problems) but my card rarely works the first time if it works at all.

    I typically hold my card up to the reader and it beeps an evil beep. The MUNI driver will accuse me of having no money on the card. I insist that I do. MUNI driver insists that I don’t. I assure MUNI driver I do have funds on the card. Eventually the driver grows weary of the conversation and tells me to “just sit down.”

  • Eric Willis

    Sure, they can’t be demagnetized but they function very much like a smartcard from the 80s.

    It doesn’t seem to be just me (from seeing other people have problems) but my card rarely works the first time if it works at all.

    I typically hold my card up to the reader and it beeps an evil beep. The MUNI driver will accuse me of having no money on the card. I insist that I do. MUNI driver insists that I don’t. I assure MUNI driver I do have funds on the card. Eventually the driver grows weary of the conversation and tells me to “just sit down.”

  • Eve Batey

    Word to that, Eric. I’ve “lost signal” and had to hit the add fare to do a balance check many, many times. I love the look drivers give me like I’m trying to pull The Italian Job.

  • Eve Batey

    Word to that, Eric. I’ve “lost signal” and had to hit the add fare to do a balance check many, many times. I love the look drivers give me like I’m trying to pull The Italian Job.

  • Leanna Yip

    Maybe I’m glad I only use it on Muni once a month or so…

  • Leanna Yip

    Maybe I’m glad I only use it on Muni once a month or so…

  • Erik

    I’ve never had problems with it on Muni (aside from when the readers are turned off) but about one in five or ten times it won’t work on BART on the first try. The machine makes the angry beep and then the card works fine in the next turnstyle over.

  • Erik

    I’ve never had problems with it on Muni (aside from when the readers are turned off) but about one in five or ten times it won’t work on BART on the first try. The machine makes the angry beep and then the card works fine in the next turnstyle over.

  • Alex Zepeda

    Agreed. My TransLink card is not cracked (nor can you demagnetize it) but it is less reliable than my EZ-Rider, Oyster, Zipcar (both personal and the parking garage card found in some cars), and the building security cards.

  • Alex Zepeda

    Agreed. My TransLink card is not cracked (nor can you demagnetize it) but it is less reliable than my EZ-Rider, Oyster, Zipcar (both personal and the parking garage card found in some cars), and the building security cards.