Translink users maxed out by new Muni pass 

Nearly 1,000 Muni riders who use a prepaid fare card were hit with an unexpected, extra $10 charge this month.

TransLink, the one-stop regional transit payment card, has a feature that automatically charges a commuter’s credit card each month for the cost of a monthly Muni Fast Pass. Riders who use the automatic payment option for TransLink cards were charged $70 for the monthly pass in January, when the price was increased and another option was introduced.

This month, Muni unveiled two separate fare increases to the $55 Fast Pass, one being a $60 option that can be used only on Muni vehicles. The second option costs $70 and includes BART rides within city limits, which used to be included when the pass cost $55.

With the changes, the 900 Muni riders who use TransLink’s autoload feature were charged the $70 option this month because that’s equivalent to the monthly pass in its previous form.

John Goodwin, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission — the regional group that operates TransLink — said his department hasn’t received any complaints about the $70 automatic reload. Every autoload user received an e-mail during Christmas week alerting them to the $70 refill, Goodwin said.

If cardholders don’t want that option in February, they can adjust their autoload settings online at www.translink.org.

Every time an autoload user’s TransLink card falls below $10 or expires, a preset value is drawn from a bank account and added to the card.

Jim Chapman, a 44-year-old San Francisco resident, said he didn’t think the MTC acted fairly in automatically assuming Muni riders would want the BART option, but he said passengers should have been aware of the upcoming changes.

“I don’t think that the TransLink people went about this in the right way,” Chapman said. “But they can’t be totally to blame. Muni riders knew about the different Fast Pass increases.”

Originally introduced two decades ago, TransLink is a payment method that’s one day expected to be available on all 26 Bay Area transit agencies. The technology, which has had a series of scheduling setbacks, is currently available on BART, Muni, AC Transit, Caltrain and Golden Gate Transit. Roughly 45,000 riders use the TransLink card, including 9,450 Muni passengers.

Muni, which has an average daily ridership of 670,000, authorized the Fast Pass fare increases last summer to help offset a $129 million budget deficit heading into this fiscal year.

 

Transit stats

670,000
Average daily Muni riders

900
TransLink card holders who use autoload option for Muni

$70
Autoload charge for Muni’s TransLink users this month

$60
Cost of Muni’s new “M” model Fast Pass (doesn’t include BART service)

9,450
TransLink card holders on Muni

44,250
Average daily TransLink users in Bay Area

Source: SFMTA, MTC

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Will Reisman

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