Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Got a Clipper Card

I have a CalTrian GO pass, so I don't really need one, but SamTrans is starting to take them, so it might come in handy.

Nathan and I go on BART once in a while too. Kids always like BART trains, I guess because they look cool. At least he likes them in principle--like everyone else he finds the noise level in the tunnels kind of oppressive.

Anyway, I've been reading up on how to use clipper, and about all I can say is, WTF? Consider:

  • On CalTrain, you tag on before boarding, and have to tag off at your destination--or Clipper will assume you rode all the way to the end of the line.
  • But on VTA, you better not tag again when you get off, or this will be counted as another fare, on the assumption you're transferring to another bus or train.

And consider these issues of dysfunctional clipper reader placement at Milllbrae, and this botched-up mess of interagency transfers. I feel like what's going on here is that the MTC, realizing that Bay Area transit is a disorganized mess, went on some junkets to see what other cities were doing about similar problems, and were wowed by technology (like Hong Kong's Octopus card), but really couldn't grasp what the fundamental underlying problems are. They gave us something that looks like a well organized system, but it's just a flashy workaround to the same mess.

They would have done better to learn from Z├╝rich, which has multiple operators, but a fare zone system allowing passengers to think about where they're going and what line to take--but to be totally oblivious to what operator provides the survice. Instead of emphasizing technology (which, from a government perspective, is easy--just spend money) they actually did real work to make the system work as a coherent whole.


Yokota Fritz said...

I think the tag off thing makes sense for Caltrain because of its zone fares.

My kids are meh on BART -- I don't know if it's because of the noise or not, but you're right, the noise is pretty awful. One of these days I'm gonna bring my sound level meter with me on BART.

295bus said...

The Chronicle did it:

You can click "view image" on the map and see it legibly.

295bus said...

Hmm. Sometimes it's there, sometimes now. Here's a link: