The SFMTA May Soon Test a Smartphone Ticketing App for Muni Riders

resetsanfrancisco – excerpt

The San Francisco Municipal Transport Agency recently announced its plans to run a six-month trial for using a smartphone ticketing app for Muni riders to pay their fares.

Easier for Riders

… Although riders already have the option of buying a Clipper Card, the app would, in theory, best aid riders who don’t want to bother with the card, or don’t want to fumble for their wallet every time they get on a crowded train during rush hour. The app however, is not intended to replace Clipper, though will be a better alternative to light rail fare cards for some.

SFGate reported that the app will “allow passengers to pay single-ride, cable car and special event fares, and buy visitor passports using their smart phones,” however the app will not include Fast Passes on phones… (more)

How many ways can you say “Privileged?”

Smart phone apps are fine for the riders who can afford them and the banks and Apple who will share in the transaction fees that will be added to each ticket charged on the smart phones. How will a smart phone app help the less affluent Muni riders?

Muni Tests New App to Pay Fares

By Sarah Medina : 7×7 – excerpt

In the age of the Clipper card, it amazes me when I still see someone whip out cash to pay for their Muni ticket. I guess the Municipal Transportation Agency feels the same way, because they’re working on a new smart-phone app that will allow riders to pay their fare sans bills and change.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the six-month pilot program will roll out early 2015 and offer single-ride, cable car, special event tickets, and visitor passports. However, it will not include fast passes.

.. (more)

Faulty Clipper Card System Angers Muni Riders Subject To Fines

By Phil Matier : CBSlocal – excerpt

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The technological advances to make San Francisco’s Muni a more efficient public-transportation system are actually working against riders, several of whom are getting fined because of faulty card readers not registering their fare purchases.

To make it more explicit, this is all about the scanner not reading Clipper cards. You’ve seen it before; Muni riders get on the bus, flash their card and it’s supposed to make that beeping sound, but often times it doesn’t register. According to transit officials 2 percent of the card readers aren’t operating correctly daily.

Muni’s fare system is based on the honor system, but once in a while at some of the transit system’s stops, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) inspectors are on hand to double check that riders are properly registered or have paid their bus fare. If your Clipper card didn’t make the beeping sound it’s supposed to, riders are subject to a $103 fine.

Riders are beginning to grow more vocal about their displeasure with the situation since it isn’t their fault that the Clipper card scanner system doesn’t always work properly.

So it’s like bus roulette if you’re using Clipper card on Muni. Assuming the 2 percent figure is correct; that’s like one out of every 50 buses that has a screwed-up card reader you’re dealing with. Not to mention at the end of your ride you might get a hefty fine.

With the BART system, which also uses Clipper, it either lets you in or it doesn’t and then you can plead your case with the station agent working in the booth.

Muni is more concerned with getting its riders on and off in order to be time efficient. Muni had estimated that they were losing $20 million a year in lost revenue from fare evasion.

If you do get a citation for fare evasion you have an opportunity to go to the SFMTA to contest it, but that of course takes time and you might have to take time off from work. It really makes me question how many millions were spent on getting the over-budgeted Clipper card system up and running in the first place… (more)

This is old news, but, interesting that the riders are getting more vocal about it. On a slightly different notes, we understand the new ticketing process for motorists also leaves a few things to be desired. Here’s Why You Should Fight Your Muni Fare Evasion Ticket.

Ticket Complaint story of the week.

A friend got a ticket for not having a seat-belt fastened.  There is no information on the ticket indicating the amount of the fine, only a phone number to call.  When he called the number a voice told him you are number 28 in the wait line, then put on some jazz music. Every now and then a voice would tell him where he was in the line. After about 20 minutes it got down to number 7 or and then the line went dead. This happened twice. After that, he gave up.

Anyone else have any of these problems? Motorists ticket complaints can be filed here:

Clipper Card Commuters Question Validity of Citations

By Vicky Nguyen and Jeremy Carroll : nbcbayarea – excerpt

FMTA riders using their Clipper cards seeing stricter enforcement but some say broken machines and confusing rules lead to unfair tickets.

Ellie Cachette fought the law, and the law won, twice, before she successfully appealed her $103 SFMTA ticket for fare evasion. But she’s one of very few to receive a refund. Data provided to NBC Bay Area by the transit agency show that for fiscal year 2013, of the 20 percent of tickets submitted for appeal, just 1 percent were successful.

The number of riders getting caught in the dragnet is on the rise. SFMTA fare inspectors are on pace to write more than 70,000 tickets for fare evasion this fiscal year, a number that eclipses the 27,000 tickets written when the Clipper card was first introduced to Muni in 2010. The agency is also poised to collect $3 million in fines, more than twice what it brought in last year… (more)

What do drivers and Muni riders have in common? Major complaints about illegal tickets. Why do both Muni riders and car owners want to reform SFMTA? Too many reasons to list. Ticket complaints are one of many complaints we agree on. If you want to make a difference, let the Mayor and Supervisors know that you want to them to vote against the TEP. You can also sign the petition to reform the SFMTA:


Cubic Transportation Systems Receives $7.5 Million Contract Add-on from Metropolitan Transportation Commission to Expand Clipper Card to Smaller Bay Area Transit Agencies

PRWEB : digitaljournal – excerpt

Cubic Transportation Systems, a leading integrator of information technology and payment systems and services for public transportation, received a $7.5 million add-on contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to expand the Clipper® card fare payment system to more than a dozen suburban transit agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area. The system, which Cubic delivered and operates, will enhance travel options for commuters in parts of the East and North Bay… (more)

Did anyone else catch the suggestion by one of the MTA Board Directors to hold off on some of the tech expenses? Clearly he was ignored. This is $7.5 million dollars for more tech and less for Muni service expansion.


Rail supplier news from Cubic, Alstom, Wasatch, BBVA, Splunk, RSI, REMSA and Parsons Brinckerhoff (April 24)

How to Fight the SFMTA and Win: True Story (“Evading Fare”)

SFMTA in San Francisco is well known for its tight rules, aggressive ticketing and even aggressive towing. Locals know towing zones are serious things which is why you often see people staying in cars or even double parking with the Hazard signs on or “San Francisco valet”, but what surprised me most was when 1/05/13 I got a handwritten ticket for “evading fare.”
The scene was something out of a horror movie: I used my Clipper Card to get on a train near Dolores Park, my card signaled it was low so I had planned to reload it upon arriving at the next station since my entry station didn’t have any machines. Upon arriving at Montgomery Station, all three of my friends exited the station and I get held back by an officer who said the machines were “broken” and to “come here” Upon walking near her she scanned my Clipper Card and announced that I am evading fare. Totally confused I try to reload the card with monies, or pay my fare in cash or even get the machine but she doesn’t let me, “You are evading fare.” I even open my wallet with cash asking to pay because I don’t understand the issue. “Its a $103.00 ticket not to mention my pride as a hardened criminal now that I am known to be “evading fare” I’m pissed but I also know that NO ONE FIGHTS THE SFMTA AND WINS.
My roommate a few weeks earlier had a hearing regarding one of her rental cars that got towed. She lost. Every single friend I know who either protested or appealed lost, but despite my low odds my pride could not swallow this $103.00– I would spend the next few weeks dedicating my life to fight this ticket as if my life depended on it. Continue reading

Commuters’ privacy is being clipped – excerpt

Bay Area officials are encouraging public transit commuters to adopt the Clipper card, which is accepted by every major Bay Area transit system. The cards are convenient and easy to use, so it’s not surprising that people are adopting them enthusiastically – there are more than 1 million active cards in circulation.
But those commuters may be surprised at how much their Clipper cards know about them. If you use a Clipper card, your every move on public transit can be stored for up to seven years – even after an account is closed
This is an ongoing privacy battle with technologies ranging from Google to FasTrak. Unfortunately, the technological devices that rely on privacy invasions seem to be proliferating faster than the legal challenges against them… (more)

Privacy Advocates Raise Concerns Over Clipper Card Data

Clipper cards reveal travelers’ whereabouts to police, lawyers, apps

By ZUSHA ELINSON : – excerpt

Only three subpoenas or warrants have sought user information since 2010 launch…According to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which administers the (Clipper) card, it has received three search warrants or subpoenas seeking customers’ personal travel information since the card’s inception in 2010. In only one of those cases did the search turn up any relevant travel information, according to the commission’s response to a public records request from The Bay Citizen.
Use of the card, accepted by every major Bay Area public transit system, is soaring with 689,000 transactions a day and more than 1 million active Clipper cards. Many cardholders might not realize that data tracking their every move on public transit is stored on computers and available to anyone with a search warrant or subpoena. Personal data can be stored for seven years after a Clipper account is closed, according to the commission’s policy.
In addition, a new smartphone app, called FareBot, allows anyone to scan a Clipper card and find out where the owner has been…
Transit riders can remain anonymous if they pay for a Clipper card in cash and do not register it, he noted. People who don’t register stand to lose any money on their card if it is lost, stolen or stops working…
“You can read them from some distance, so it is possible that somebody could brush their phone on your back pocket and they could know where you live, where you shop and quite a bit about your life,” he said…. (more)

How Spin Doctors Roll Out MUNI Contracts

By: Ben Shore : – excerpt

Maybe it was because I read about the SF MTA’s decision to pay nearly $100,000 for outside PR help on a morning when the Clipper Card didn’t work and we would have been happy to see any N-Judah, even one with all the doors stuck wide open, but it just seemed wrong on so many levels to pay spin doctors to make us feel better about riding on a broken Municipal Railway.
Since then I’ve seen just how good these spin-doctors are at their jobs. They actually managed to help the MUNI generate headlines about a new labor contract that made it seem like tens millions of dollars would be saved when in actuality nobody really knows for sure how much the contract will save and the best expert guess is that it will save just a fraction of the agency’s budget shortfall… (more)

Do we repeat ourselves? This story bears repeating since recent reports appear to indicate the smart system and the sensors don’t work. As some have pointed out, you can get human eyes to gather data.

Why the new Clipper Card system is actually making the SF Municipal Railway worse

by: Eric Jaye, From Phil Ting’s Reset San Francisco

San Francisco Clipper Card Disaster

The Clipper Card sounds like a great idea – until you use it.

The goal of the Clipper Card system is to create a single pass you can use on just about any Bay Area transit system. The cards are designed so you can load with a Fast Pass, BART discount tickets, CalTrain passes or any combination of transit payments.

But like so many ideas proposed for improving transit in San Francisco, riders are now being bedeviled with the a series of snafus that are making mass transit even less reliable.