Why the SFTMA/Muni's "Calvinball" Fast Passes Are A Waste of Time
-$60, if you only wanted to ride the bus, the Metro, the cable car, or an express bus, and
-$70, if you wanted to ride the bus, the Metro, the cable car, an express bus, and BART within the city (the BART fare was previously included in the cost of a Fast Pass).
This "compromise" was designed to give you the illusion that you could "save money" if you didn't think you'd be riding a BART anywhere within city limits. However, several problems came up in the process:
-Many retailers would run out of the $60 passes, so you either had to leave and find another, or pony up the $70, regardless;
-It was recently revealed that Translink users who loaded a Fast Pass on their cards not only were being automatically re-upped at the higher level, but now, many machines downtown (which you must use if you've got a Commuter Card benefit) were not allowing for the $60 option;
-And of course, the inevitable confusion and the hassles at BART gates when people didn't realize what they'd done by picking the $60 pass.
All in all, it was a way to give out the illusion of "opting out" of something you don't use. That really doesn't make any sense, because a transit system is not a buffet which you pick and choose - it's a comprehensive system with different modes of transit that when, properly managed, all work together to create an efficient system.
But then came today's epic FAIL of a vote by an ineffective MTA board led by a former politician from the suburbs. NOW, we have the following system, whereby the cost has been raised to:
-$60, which allows you to only ride the bus, or Metro and;
-$70, which now allows you to ride the bus, the Metro, the cable car, an express bus, and BART within the city, and ride the Express buses. (Otherwise you'll have to pay a $5 premium for the cable car and the Express buses) (source: SFMTA twitter account).
Really? And they're cutting service 10% and making Night Owl service a once an hour joke? REALLY?
The MTA bureaucrats who came up with this plan should be ashamed of themselves. They're essentially raising the price of a useful Muni Pass that used to cost $55 to $70, all the while giving off the illusion that they really only raised the cost of a pass by $5. By removing most of the things we'd been getting (like better service, and being able to use BART and Cable Cars and Express buses), they've made the lower cost pass a useless joke.
The MTA should have been more honest and either raised the cost of the stupid pass to $70 (so they don't have to print multiple kinds of passes and f*ck up Translink) or split the difference and raised it to $65. To do so with these Calvinball like rules, all the while of course subsidizing drivers of private cars, and subsidizing other departments with Muni money that others called shenanigans on, is flat out bullshit.
Don't even get me started on how confusing the tourist options have become. That's a whole other game of Calvinball!
NOTE! Was there a better way to balance the budget without cutting service, and all the other lame-ass ways the MTA chose to go? Yes there was - SPUR took the time the MTA didn't to come up with a better budget which you can read about over here, in PDF format.
Did the MTA even bother to look at it or listen? Hell no! Of course not. That would mean they'd be responsible managers of the Muni system we own. Epic FAIL.