Terry in Hayward was wondering why I haven’t blogged about EZ Rider, BART‘s new smart card fare system it’s testing out on volunteers. I guess I was expecting a card to magically arrive (and perhaps one is materializing now), but Terry reminded me that I need to find how it’s really working.
When I arrived in the Bay Area, it took me not quite 10 minutes to sign up for FasTrak to pay the tolls that I blessedly avoid most days. It was truly “EZ” and now I carry around the transponder in my backpack in case I have to carshare.
I know it’s just a pilot, but didn’t it occur to BART to offer online sign-up for EZ Rider? I mean, I can buy a car online, but not a BART pass?
Here’s what I discovered: After filling out a survey, I’m told, “Congratulations! You’re just a step away from your new EZ Rider Card! ” Then, I’m told to download a form which must be printed out, filled out by hand and mailed to BART.
The explanation is that BART needs to have a signature on file. Funny, but none of the other online subscriptions I’ve signed up for has made the same requirement. Why is BART stuck in the 1970s?
That’s just temporary, according to BART spokesman Linton Johnson, who told me that for the test-run period, there are a number of factors that made the paper route more desirable.
“We don’t have it set up for online signup,” he said, but probably will when the bulk of BART riders are offered a chance to sign up in a few months. “That technology is pretty much proven, people use it all the time,” so it shouldn’t be a problem setting it up for EZ Rider card accounts.
The other thing is that the trial run necessitated a signed agreement for the things such as privacy and BART’s use of information collected from trial users to improve their system. These formalities might not be required for all riders in the future.
Now I’ve got my application filled out, but have discovered that all I can sign up for is a waiting list. Seems that 250 people have already signed up (like Terry) and the trial sign-up is closed.
That would mean that the EZ Rider smart-card program is, as they say, in the mail.