Monday, September 27, 2010

Clipper Card Caltrain FAILBLOG #1

I took Caltrain to Santa Clara today. After getting off the train, you need to "tag off" if you are a Clipper Card user. This can often be quite frustrating trying to locate the card reader, but at Santa Clara it hit a new low.

This is what @caltrain thinks of their @bayareaclipper users ... on Twitpic

Here is the Clipper reader, off the sidewalk, off the curb, sort of dumped into some landscaping woodchips, behind the trash can and some newspaper racks. It was probably placed before the construction started, but it's still very poorly placed, in a spot where there is only 2 or so feet of open sidewalk before another curbing.

If you look to the very right of the frame (or by looking next to my shadow taking the photo) you can see that there is in fact another Clipper reader on the platform itself. So it's not like there isn't an "accessible" Clipper reader - I just want to know why they decided to put another one behind a trash can. Even if there were enough detraining passengers that a second reader would speed things up, nobody can get to the second reader, especially with a crowd around the first one.

This placement makes no sense. There are a lot of translink placements out there that seem to makes sense at first glance but in fact are quite broken, but this one is broken on its face.


Mikesonn said...

I would of assumed you were rolling with a monthly pass.

murphstahoe said...

That's another FAIL story.

In July we were out of town most of the month so I decided to use 8 rides, and do so using Clipper. I was trying to use up all my 8 rides at the end of the month so I could go back to a pass.

In order to get the 8 rides on the card, I had to set up autoload. I figured when I got down to my last ride, I would turn off the autoload. Unfortunately, Clipper loads up 8 more new rides when you get down to 2 rides.

This is of course completely ridiculous. If you have autoload, it should wait until you get down to zero rides before loading up more rides. It isn't like they need to make sure you don't "run out" of rides, if you can "use" a ride, it can "load" more rides - all of this happens on the readers. The programmers for Clipper just flat out didn't get this.

The real downside for the users to this "early" loading is that the 8 new rides start expiring as soon as they are loaded on the card.

295bus said...

The logical place for Clipper readers--and ticket machines generally, is at the entrance to a station area, which is typically at the ends (well, my 2 most used stations are RWC and MtV). But they are usually in the middle of platforms.

This is probably the most convenient place to install them, in terms of wiring them up, etc. But it means extra walking for passengers.

In my case: if I used clipper, I would have to walk past the usual bike car waiting area, half way down a crowded paltform, and then back. I would have to do this both getting on and off of the train, in both my morning and evening commutes. No thanks!

(I have a go pass these days, before that used a monthly pass).

murphstahoe said...

The paper pass is going away. But you can load a pass onto your Clipper Card (which I will do once I manage to use up the 8 rides concurrent with the end of the month).

You do, however, need to tag on *and* off on the first day you use your pass. And you need to do so MATCHING the zones of your pass. I buy a 1-4 pass which allows me to use Lawrence when I am on a train that stops at Lawrence. On the first day of the month, if I end up on a bullet, the train doesn't stop at Lawrence, and if I tag off at Mountain View, that's zone 1-3, but I have a zone 1-4 pass. So Clipper will charge me for a zone 1-3 one way ticket, and not activate my pass.

Seriously. What I'd probably end up doing is riding to work along the tracks, and stop at Lawrence to tag off. Ridiculous.