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.”

Think of “Ask the Appeal” as your own personal genie: no Bay-related question is too big or too small. Whether you’re concerned with a municipal question, a consumer advocacy issue or simply with consuming alcohol, email us your questions at (or, find answers to past questions here). We’ll either do the dirty work and talk to the folks in charge, contact an expert in the field, or – if your question is particularly intriguing or juicy – develop it into a full-blown investigative article.

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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