Translink finally implemented on Muni & BART

25 Mar

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about the delay of implementing Translink on BART, Muni, and Caltrain:

Back in October, I noticed a Translink reader on a Muni bus so I naively thought it wouldn’t be long before I could forget about the change and get rid of my BART card. But, I guess I shouldn’t have been so optimistic. The Chronicle reported today that the estimated implementation date of Translink on Muni and Caltrain has been moved back to July 15 and BART won’t come on board until September 25.

Yes, Muni and Caltrian were supposed to be on Board in July of 2008, and BART was supposed to join the system in September. Obviously, it’s taken a bit longer than that.

But I’m happy to report that Muni’s Translink testing is well under way, and they should be offering Translink to all Muni riders very soon. And as the Chronicle reported earlier this week, BART finally plans to offer Translink in June.

If you haven’t used Translink yet, I highly recommend getting  a card – you can get one online, at the AC Transit office, or at any Walgreens. It makes life so much easier, whether you’re a sporadic bus rider or a frequent bus rider. Also, as I mentioned in my posts on the 51 line, your usage of Translink will make everyone’s ride faster.

And now that Muni and BART will be on board, Translink will finally be the regional transit card it was always meant to be. No more fumbling with change on the bus. No more searching for your crumpled up BART card, only to find it’s been demagnatized.

Unfortunately, I can’t leave this post on a happy note. I’m not sure what took so long for Muni to implement, but BART really has no excuse. As AC Transit was testing Translink two years ago, BART decided to implement its own card with the same technology, the EZ Rider card. They went ahead and installed the card readers at BART stations that could have read Translink cards, but instead read their own cards that could not be used on other transit systems.

This is really just another example of BART being difficult and not cooperating with other transit agencies. There’s so much more to the story of BART being a bad transit neighbor, and dto510 covered this in depth last week:

BART’s per-rider public subsidy (at an average of $6.14) is more than twice that of AC Transit ($2.78), neatly intersecting (PDF) with the fact that its ridership is twice as white as AC Transit’s (43% to 21%). Its subsidized parking lots in the suburbs encourage driving and transfer additional funds to the suburbs at the expense of the inner cities. Most galling, fares from the outer suburbs don’t come close to covering the operating costs of those train lines, while intra-city fares in Oakland are actually more than the operating cost of a trip from, say, Fruitvale to the DTO. This means that every trip within Oakland is subsidizing a trip from the outer suburbs. Both the structure and the operation of BART is subsidizing suburbanites at the expense of the central cities, and its low-cost parking has been shown to encourage more driving.

Now go read the full post, and BART’s hesitance to participate in Translink might make more sense.

6 Responses to “Translink finally implemented on Muni & BART”

  1. das88 March 25, 2009 at 10:25 am #

    Will Translink work on AirBART buses when it finally comes to BART?

    • Becks March 25, 2009 at 10:39 am #

      Good question. Unfortunately, BART still has no info about Translink on their website so it’s hard to say. It would be pretty easy for them to install the card reader on the AirBART buses, but just because it’s easy, that doesn’t mean they’ll do it.

      If they don’t though, you can always take the 50 AC Transit bus, which is cheaper, and currently allows Translink usage. It’s rarely full on the stretch from Coliseum BART to the airport and it’s often just as fast. Also, I just realized that I can take the 1 or 1R all the way to 73rd Ave and then transfer to the 50, completely bypassing BART and saving several dollars.

      • Tony March 26, 2009 at 10:00 pm #

        $2 from my place to OAK. What a deal!

  2. oaklandhappenings March 25, 2009 at 8:48 pm #

    Becks, thank you much for the extra info! EZ-rider was pathetic, and I never bothered with it, considering how high a value the cards had to be–at hardly any discount. I am really looking forward to using TL to join both BART/AC transit, so I continue passing on rip-you-off, sluggish AirBART on my way to/from work (as often as possible anyway). I never thought about how BART could make things so difficult; the new flooring in (only) certain cars have shown more shine than the system as a whole.

  3. Scott Mace May 12, 2009 at 7:25 pm #

    Distressing true (but so-far unpublicized facts) about Translink on BART:

    1. Translink cards will have a separate “e-wallet” for high-value BART purchases (the kind where you get a discount when you do it with EZ Rider or BART paper tickets). This separate “e-wallet” will contain value that can only be used on BART, not on other systems. Thus, if your BART e-wallet is chock-full of money, but your non-BART e-wallet is depleted, guess what, you have to put more money on your Translink card.

    2. Translink cards will not be able to be used to pay for BART parking. You’ll still need cash or a BART EZ-Rider card for that.

    Scott Mace

  4. david vartanoff May 13, 2009 at 4:38 pm #

    Other reasons NOT to use TL.I have not heard any definite statements that the current BART to AC or Muni discounts will be integrated. Cash is still king.

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