After years of delay, BART finally allowing riders to use Translink

4 Aug

More than two years after AC Transit implemented and more than 6 months after Muni came on board, BART finally started allowing its riders to use Translink yesterday. Of course, it’s BART, so they’re calling this a “limited rollout” for BART EZ Rider users, but if you already have a Translink card, you can use it immediately! (The only thing that really makes this rollout limited is how they’re advertising it and that you should be prepared to buy a regular BART card if their Translink readers aren’t working.)

I could not be much more excited about this (well, maybe I’d be more excited if this happened a year ago), and it comes at perfect timing since I just used the last few dollars on my BART card. This means no more missing trains because I’m fumbling to find dollars (which happened to me this past weekend). This means it will be easier for everyone to switch between AC Transit, BART, and Muni. Yes, you will now be able to carry around just one transit card for these agencies. And my guess is that now that BART finally joined the program, transit agencies around the Bay will be quick to jump on board.

Like I said, the BART press release is promoting this rollout as limited. They mention that current Translink users can use the cards on BART and that anyone can purchase a Translink card. You can do so online, at the AC Transit offices downtown, at any Walgreens, and at many other stores throughout the Bay Area.

If you don’t have one yet, go get one now. Better yet, get one for yourself and a friend or two (I’ve given a couple loaded cards to friends as birthday presents). Let’s prove James Fang, the BART director who’s obsessed with being able to use cell phones as fare payment, wrong in the statements he made just a few months ago:

“I think (the phone technology) is a very good thing for the district,” he told us before heading off to Europe. “And when our project hits, I guess it will show TransLink was a disaster.

“And remember – I told you so.”

The only disaster about Translink is that it took BART two years to join AC Transit in this successful program. But now the wait is over. So go ahead and enjoy transit, free from multiple transit cards and fumbling for change.

Previous posts on Translink:

12 Responses to “After years of delay, BART finally allowing riders to use Translink”

  1. erocking August 4, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    So, do we use the same card readers as the EZ Riders? Or are there separate TransLink readers?

    • Becks August 4, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

      According to Translink’s site, yes, you use it in the same way as the EZ Rider card, which makes sense, since they use the same technology.

  2. Paul August 4, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    To be fair, BART actually does mention that anyone can purchase a Translink card. Read the last line of third paragraph in that release: “You can sign up for a TransLink card at any time through the TransLink website.”

    • Becks August 4, 2009 at 12:30 pm #

      Thanks for the correction Paul – I completely missed that line when reading the release.

  3. Dave C. August 6, 2009 at 2:18 pm #

    Translink users beware: I went to Lake Merritt station today and tried to use a Translink card. No luck, and the agent told me they aren’t ‘set up for that yet.’ Sigh.

    • Becks August 6, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

      Not set up at all? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

      I used Translink on BART for the first time last night at 19th Street (to San Leandro). The first two readers didn’t work so I had to go to the other side of the station, and it worked fine there and fine at San Leandro.

      For those of you who are confused about where to swipe your card (I was, since it’s not even marked clearly as EZ-Rider), look for the circular area on top of where you’d normally insert your paper ticket.

  4. Dave C. August 6, 2009 at 4:03 pm #

    It’s very possible that the agent was misinformed. Since I don’t use EZRider, I had no idea where to put the card. Instead of guessing, I figured I would ask. That was probably a mistake. Lame BART.

    • Becks August 6, 2009 at 4:07 pm #

      Yeah, that’s why I didn’t ask. You should try again at another entrance – maybe it will work.

  5. david vartanoff August 7, 2009 at 10:24 am #

    Why I despise Translink, chaper … So Monday I registered a new card and purchased an AC monthly pass. Was told 24-72 hours until usable. As of 8PM Thursday still refused by the reader on a 1. Call today elicits claim that as of Wed 5;40 PM TL had “processed” the upload., and shows “current” as of today (Friday). Rep refused to state when after Wed eve. it became ‘current’.

    • Becks August 7, 2009 at 10:27 am #

      Yeah, they do need to work on that, as I’ve heard many similar complaints.

      • Transbay August 7, 2009 at 10:52 am #

        There’s a delay for remote uploads, like online, because the TransLink readers on buses don’t “know” that you’ve added money to your card until the reader data is refreshed later.

        The key is to actually add the money to the physical card, which is less convenient, but is executed within a few minutes. You can do that at a station, or a retail stop like Walgreens.

  6. david vartanoff August 10, 2009 at 10:34 am #

    “remote” seems an odd deescription for a direct phone call to Translink. The four days from when the bank nicked the credit card to the readers on the buses seems a bit long in this century.

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