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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Bay Area transit agencies hope cash, convenience encourage increased ridership

San Francisco Bay Area commuters have two more reasons to use public transit. Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and six transit operators Feb. 1 began a six-month pilot of the TransLink® electronic fare-payment system, enabling passengers to use the same touchless, reloadable fare card on selected routes.

During the pilot phase, TransLink cards would be tested on selected routes and at certain stations of AC Transit, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit, San Francisco Municipal Railway and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

As part of the pilot, MTC and TransLink mailed cards — each loaded with $3 in "e-cash" — to 4,300 program volunteers. Several hundred transit agency employees participated in a smaller "pre-test" during the past several months on their regular commutes to gain hands-on experience with the system before it went live for volunteers.

The fare cards are designed to factor in many variables when calculating fares for the different transit agencies, including time of day, transfers, routes, trip lengths, and discounts for youth, elderly and disabled riders.

Meanwhile, BART Feb. 4 kicked off a partnership with Commuter Check Services Corp. to promote awareness of transit benefits for Bay Area employers and employees using various marketing activities to be conducted during the next 18 months.

"We know that when employees can pay less for transit, they will ride BART more often," said Mike Healy, BART media and public relations manager, in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/5/2002