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Phil Matier: Faulty Clipper Card System Angers Muni Riders Subject To Fines

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A passenger uses a Clipper card at a fare gate. (CBS)

A passenger uses a Clipper card at a fare gate. (CBS)

Phil-Matier_BIO-HEAD Phil Matier
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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.

Faulty Clipper Card System Angers Muni Riders Subject To Fines

KCBS Radio

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.

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