TransLink, the universal transit fare system that just launched, after two decades worth of development, service on AC Transit and Golden Gate Transit buses, has clearly had its share of problems.
I mean, they’re trying to integrate 26 different transit systems, some of which have trouble keeping things together within a single agency.
Now they’ve got the thing up and running, and Eric Schatmeier of Alameda raises yet another point for the system to worry about: Statements.
Here’s part of his e-mail to me:
I, too, have been a demonstration TransLink user for about six months and it’s decidedly a mixed blessing. Yes, it’s easier to have one ticket. I live in the East Bay and work in Marin so I’ve tested the card on both systems.
Although I can’t document it, I believe I’ve been overcharged on several occasions. Unlike with the FastTrak bridge toll device, no automatic statement comes to your house, so if you don’t watch carefully, you don’t know (and never will) whether you’re being charged $17.50 or $1.75.
Also, sometimes AC Transit’s drivers forget to switch their buses from Transbay to local mode. Transbay fares are double local fares so your card gets charged the wrong amount. This happened to me six weeks ago and when I complained, I fell into the organization’s customer service black hole. They haven’t even acknowledged my complaint, let alone refunded my money.
It’s too late to field this question with AC Transit or the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, but Eric raises an excellent point.
If a machine overcharges me, I’m going to want a document trail, paper or electronic, that I can use to resolve such things. If it’s based on the honor system, both passengers and transit operators are going to feel cheated on a regular basis.
Mistakes happen. Documenting them would go a long way to help people trust the system.