TransLinkCard2.jpgIn today’s Examiner, they say that anyone with a Translink card can now use it on Cable Cars, saying

“cable car operators will be equipped with handheld card readers that will be able to scan a TransLink card. The reader will be able to verify whether the card includes a current monthly pass. If not, the card will be debited the $5 fare for the ride.”

But Akit says that the only people who can use the TL on a Cable Car are Fast Pass holders! Who’s right?

Short answer? Akit. Here’s the scoop:

As Akit notes, the SF MTA recently announced Cable Car operators will have a a handheld card reader they’ll use to scan your card to see if you’re a monthly pass holder. But, according to the MTA site, and in conflict with the Ex story, the Cable Cars won’t deduct fares from non pass holders’ cards.

I double checked this with Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesperson John Goodwin, who says that “The Examiner report is incorrect. The handheld card readers cannot deduct e-cash.” Why? Because the ” hand-held card readers…are ‘read only.’ Because these devices cannot ‘write’ to the card, they are not able to deduct value and thus cannot accommodate e-cash customers.”

However, Goodwin says that “if you are an Autoload customer and have used Autoload to load a monthly pass onto the card at any time during the first three days of the month,” you’re all set for Rice-a-Roni box fun. If not, you need to have $5 to pay the Cable Car fare.

So, all you monthly pass holders, start getting your Cable Car on, that is, before they get shut down next year.

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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