Fare Collection In the Alternate Universe Isn't That Far Fetched...
In addition to such sights as Martin Luther King Jr. on a $20 bill and most of the central coast of Califonia simply gone (or at least not a part of the USA, we're not sure), we also saw a place where fare evasion was almost nil - by way of the use of a national "show me" (the alt-universe's word for national ID card) required to board any bus, anywhere in the country. Yikes.
Compared to what we have (a semi-functioning Translink/Clipper card and fare enforcement that's suspended when successful) and you begin to realize the over-reaching statements about "racism" and "fascism" about San Francisco is a bit far fetched. I mean, a national ID card required to ride the bus? Ouch.
But here's the truly witty rejoinder - this isn't advanced technology from an alternate universe at all. Estonia has a national electronic ID card that's used for all kinds of things: voting online, voting in person, a travel document in the EU, paying bus tickets, etc. Reloading it isn't a pain in the ass, it's more accurate than Clipper, and overall said ID card is way way more useful than a California driver's license, a passport, and a Clipper all in one.
Oh, and what happens if you don't pay? Well, unlike here, where some foul mouthed "f*ck you pig" rhetoric is fashionable amongst the trustafarian, temper tantrum leftists, in Estonia, not only are you issued a fine - you're taken off the bus, put in a police bus, and taken to bus headquarters where you're given a lecture on why not paying is not cool. Needless to say, they're not having the phony debate about "ooh fines aren't a bounty ergo we must stop enforcement of all fares and pay for Muni with unicorn taxes" talk we have here. It's a bit extreme, but that's how they do it in Estonia.
The point? Simply this: A tiny nation like Estonia seems to have figured this basic stuff out. Heck, Third World countries have figured basic things like this out and run better transit systems than we do in larger areas. And yet in San Francisco, the alleged home of "tech innovation" and whatnot, we have an over-politicized, inefficient way of doing things that ensures we get the worst of the worst. And whatever you do, don't expect the owners of Muni to do anything to help - it seems they'd rather leave the system in the hands of a lying incompetent fool like Nathaniel Ford, then wonder why it sucks.
We don't need a national ID card to improve collection of fares. But we do need a sense of duty that we're all in this together, and have everyone (insert list of ways to improve Muni finances here) do their part. If we're not willing to do our part, don't complain when they cut services again, and again, and again.
For more information on the alternate universe in FRINGE, consult your local library or such sites at Fringe TV where you can find out more, and endlessly speculate about said alt-world.