Today’s Headlines

  • SFMTA Will Bring Back the Shuttle in the Tunnel (SFExaminer)
  • More on SFMTA Pulling Out Safe Hit Posts (SFist)
  • Car Carnage Getting Worse Despite Tech Advances (KQED)
  • BART Delayed Early This Morning (KRON4)
  • Free Car Storage in Marina Except for the Destitute (SFExaminer)
  • More on Cooling Rental Market (MercNews)
  • More Housing Supply Coming–Eventually (Curbed)
  • Bike Share Discounts for Low Income Riders (EastBayTimes)
  • Secretary Foxx Talks About Transportation Future (Curbed)
  • New Park Developments for Alameda (MercNews)
  • Who Will Repair San Carlos Sidewalks? (DailyJournal)
  • Commentary: Contrary View on Contra Costa Measure X (SFChron)

Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA
Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Very happy about the return of the Muni Castro shuttle. Also happy that Clipper Cards fares (and also Muni mobile app fares) will soon cost less than cash fares. Other transit systems around the country have been doing this for a long time. Raising the top age of the youth discount to 18 makes sense because these days many seniors in high school are 18. Not sure what the benefit to Muni is of offering unlimited rides to Clipper Card holders between 8:30 and 5 am, but maybe it will encourage more people from the suburbs who party in the city to get Clipper Cards.

  • RichLL

    Clipper fares aren’t being reduced though. It’s more that cash fares are being increased. And it’s the poor who disproportionately use cash.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Bart’s problems did not end in the early morning. Everything is still screwed up at 10AM.

  • mx

    I think the idea with the night rides is to standardize the transfer policy between Clipper cards and cash fares. Paper transfers issued after 8:30 have lasted until 5am for I don’t even know how long, a couple of decades at least, while Clipper transfers last only 90 minutes at anytime. This gives a weird incentive not to use Clipper if you’re going out at night. Having the same transfer policy no matter how you pay is just logical.

  • RichLL

    Actually there is always an incentive to pay cash if you know you will be returning in 2-3 hours. Drivers have to manually tear off a transfer and invariably give you a lot more than 90 minutes. I often can run a round-trip errand for $2.25 which is about what a round-trip should cost in my opinion.

    Even if cash is 25 cents more, there will be many cases where it’s worth paying cash to get the extra time for the return trip. $2.50 cash is better than $4.50 on Clipper.

    I’ve heard rumors that SFMTA wants to get rid of paper transfer but I suspect there will be a backlash against that if it is ever implemented.

    If SFMTA were serious about increasing Clipper use they’d give a much more significant discount AND have a daily cap, as happens in various other cities.

  • murphstahoe

    yet another piece of the fare structure that MTC missed when they put out the spec for Clipper, costing millions in change orders.

  • p_chazz

    I had no problems on BART this morning.

  • mx

    Indeed. The screwups there are legion. It’s still an imperfect comparison even with this change, as a lot of people like the “slack” of paper transfers, since you tend to get more than 90 minutes out of them. I assume this is another step toward slowly no longer accepting cash entirely.

    I’d love to see London-style daily and weekly (and monthly) capping as part of Clipper. Just use the card and if a pass is the cheapest option, it caps your spending at that amount rather than making you jump through hoops to buy one in advance.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    The only reason anybody should be happy to see Clipper(tm)(sm)(r)(tm) promoted, using the poorest people’s cash, is somebody on the payroll or on the take from rent-seeking defense contractor Cubic, Inc.

    Note that there has NEVER been the SLIGHTEST evidence commissioned or produced that the hundreds of millions (I beleive it is over a billion tax dollars, at this point!) “invested” in Clipper(sm)(r)(tm)(c) has resulted in a single additional transit trip anywhere in the Bay Area. None. “But I think it is kewl when the machine goes beep beep and cash is like totally obsolete” isn’t data.

    But sure, a nice deal if you’re part of the transit-military-industrial complex. Ka-ching!

    Compare the basket case of Bay Area transit cratering mode share with pretty much any urban area in Central Europe. No smart cards, no transfer penalties, no ridiculous rider-visible “agencies”: instead paper-based fare media, no fare gates, total mode neutrality, coordinated schedules, happy riders, increasing service due to cost-effective investments and booming ridership.

  • JB

    I think before Translink/Clipper/2009-ish the transfer only had to be valid at time of boarding. I could be totally wrong though. I think transfers were also 2 hours and not 90 minutes so there was generally ample time to go out and back on one fare.

    But like you, those times I use Muni, the paper transfers are still a big incentive to pay cash over clipper for the transfer. Though I suppose there is no guarantee on how long a transfer you get.

    I do know, however, that once in a while the clocks on Clipper machines on the buses are set incorrectly and you can get charged several times. This has happened to me a handful of times.

    For example if the clock on the first bus is 7 hours behind, the transfer you get will never be valid and the next bus will charge you again. I’ve seen the clocks sometimes off by several days. For example board a bus Tuesday 9am and later I check Clipper use history and it says I have a ride Sunday at 2am. I was fortunate no fare inspector came aboard.

  • farazs

    Saves time for everyone, even those not on the payroll or on the take from rent-seeking defence contractor Cubic, Inc. So no, not the only reason!

    As for the notion of coupling transit with military – consider the relative share of federal discretionary spending

    Military: 54% of GDP
    Transit spending: < 0.5% of GDP

    (Total transportation is 2%, transit gets less than 25% of it).
    So that Ka-ching is probably a nut loose in your head, get it checked ASAP.

  • London has the Oyster Card, Seattle has the Orca Card, Washington DC has SmartTrip cards, Boston has the Charlie card, Atlanta has the Breeze card, Minneapolis has the Go-To card, Los Angeles has the TAP card, Mexico City has a rechargeable fare card, Paris has the Navigo rechargeable pass, Copenhagen has the Rejsekortet, Stockholm has their SL Travel card, Moscow has the Troika card, St. Petersburg has the Podorozhnik card, Madrid has a rechargeable Public Transit card, Amsterdam has the OV-chipkaart, Melbourne has the myki card, Sydney has the Opal card, Singapore has the EZ-link card, Toronto has the Presto card, Vancouver has the Compass card, Hong Kong has the Octopus card, Prague has the Litacka card, Berlin has the fahrCard, Budapest has the RIGO card, Oslo has the Flexus card, Bucharest has the Activ card, Glasgow has a Subway Smart Card,

    The smart card ship has sailed. I find them very convenient when I have them, inconvenient when traveling as a tourist in cities when I don’t have one and have to pay the higher cash fare. Since nearly every other city charges a higher fare to tourists, it seems fair for San Francisco to do so as well.

  • RichLL

    Actually London has evolved beyond the Oyster card. You can get the same fares as Oyster just by using the same contactless credit or debit card when entering and leaving each station. The system will automatically give you the lower fare and/or the various caps.

    What that means is that if you visit as a tourist, you can get the Oyster fares and deals without an Oyster card. Just as SF gets Clipper cards, other cities are starting to regard them as obsolete.

  • thielges

    Pretty amazing that Clipper/translink can’t keep its clocks in sync. But then not so amazing when you realize it was built with 1980s technology (but not deployed until the 2000s).

    I don’t know why, but Bay Area transit agencies tend to bungle just about anything to do with computers. Maybe private tech companies outbid for engineering talent? Even so the MTC could have done a lot better by hiring full-time engineering instead of outsourcing. Having an in-house engineering team would be less expensive than the bloated consulting fees. And more responsive to changes needed.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    The smart card ship has sailed.

    As I said “But sure, a nice deal if you’re part of the transit-military-industrial complex. Ka-ching!”

    Your argument for the ongoing and completely unexamined and unjustified massive public-private profit transfer to Cubic Systems, Inc, is then that when you’re a tourist fresh off the plane you find it inconvenient to pay a higher cash fare?

    Makes about the usual amount of sense!

    All the North American and cities you’ve mentioned, with the possible exception of NYC, are victims of rent-seeking sleaze by the vendor(s), and would be far better off without “smart” cards or fare gates and the billions of wasted public dollars they represent. LAMTA is an exemplary and utterly egregious case. That Anglosphere transit agencies are pretty much in the business of fucking over their riders and taxpayers in favor of their vendors in general is no justification. And don’t get started on Sydney — another Cubic triumph!

    No riders in Amsterdam wanted fare gates; the “necessity” of this comes from a very different place. And so it goes.

    I’ll grant you some of the massively highly ridden Asian systems. But the balance are just contractor capture of public policy, generally politically whitewashed because of the very idea that somewhere, somebody might be riding “for free” without buying a ticket, and that somehow fare gates and mezzanine levels and smart cards will make fare evasion zero, increase ridership (never specified just how this occurs), and have negative cost (never happens, and the ongoing overheads are the gift that keeps on giving and giving.)

  • Richard Mlynarik

    What makes boarding fastest is fares purchased in advance, not a particular proprietary vendor technology. (“It’s just like regular cash, but fun!” and permanent vendor lock-in.)

    This has nothing to do with smart cards, and everything to do with observation, analysis, and cost-effectiveness.

    Some agencies do cost-effectiveness and rider-first. Some do smart cards.

  • DrunkEngineer

    This is not a Federal program. Funding for Clipper comes primarily from local sources, MTC does not have military expenditures.

  • Drew Levitt

    I have fond memories from my high school years of boarding a Muni Metro LRV after school, around 3 pm, and occasionally getting a transfer that was valid all night…

  • farazs

    You’re just making my point for me. Transit is not part of, nor in league with nor any where near the same league as the so-called military industrial complex.

  • farazs

    So you agree that _any_ system that allows fare purchase in advance makes things faster than one that needs on-spot purchase, but you can’t see why a user who is amenable to purchasing in advance would be happy about discouraging on-spot purchase?

    You make valid points about Clipper, but moving away from on-spot cash purchase is a positive step. The alternative may not be the “bestest” possible solution, but it is still better than the incumbent and hence something to cheer for.

    Your dichotomy of cost-effective vs. smart-card is just plain false.