Bill and Mary Lou Keyworth are frequent Muni patrons, travelling on The City’s public transit system three to four times a week using their Clipper senior discount cards.
But after their latest experience with Muni, they may be rethinking their future travel options.
The Keyworths, both 66-year-old San Franciscans, were unceremoniously booted off a 49-Van Ness bus on Tuesday for a crime that seems more typical of an underage bar-goer: they didn’t have proper identification.
The couple hopped on the northbound bus near City Hall without incident, but when a transit-fare inspector boarded a few stops later, the trouble began. The inspector scanned both their Clipper cards, and when Mary Lou couldn’t produce the identification necessary to prove she was 65 years old, and thus eligible for the senior discount, they were ordered to get off at the next stop. The transit fare inspector snatched Mary Lou Keyworth’s Clipper card and said she was planning to call the cops, Bill Keyworth said.
“We’re 66 years old and we look it,” said Bill Keyworth. “We really didn’t think we’d be accused of some elaborate senior discount scam.”
While stranded on Van Ness Avenue with the fare inspector, Bill Keyworth said he repeatedly tried to get explanations from the Muni employee. However, she rebuffed his efforts and again threatened to call the police on him. Her supervisor arrived on the scene, but the Keyworths were unable to get any further information out of him either.
Finally, after 20 minutes of waiting, the inspector handed back Mary Lou Keyworth’s Clipper card and walked away without handing the couple a citation.
Baffled, the Keyworths sat around for another 15 minutes, before finally boarding another 49-Van Ness to head home.
“She was completely out of line,” said Keyworth. “If we need to bring our drivers license when we use our Clipper card, just tell us. Don’t kick us off the bus and threaten to arrest us.”
While the Keyworths thought the fare inspector was a little too pushy, she was actually just doing her job, according to Muni spokesman Paul Rose. Senior Clipper card holders are required to carry IDs, and transit fare inspectors frequently ask for drivers’ licenses, he said. Passengers are notified of this when purchasing their Clipper card and those who don’t carry proper ID could be hit with a citation, Rose said.
Legit or not, many seniors are growing wary of dealing with the Clipper card, which has replaced Muni’s old Fast Pass as the agency’s main payment method.
Pi Ra, spokesman for the Senior Action Network, said many seniors never understood why they were forced to give up their Fast Passes in the first place.
Having to take out their ID every time they encounter a fare inspector is only going to harden their opposition to the card, Ra said.
“This is ridiculous,” said Ra. “It’s hard enough to take Muni as a senior. Dealing with this is going to make it even more of a pain.”
65: Age to be eligible senior Muni discount
$21: Cost of Muni’s senior monthly pass
$62: Cost of Muni’s regular adult monthly pass
$100: Cost of fare evasion citation
Source: SF Muni