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.