Thursday, February 3, 2011

Caltrain rider forgets to tag off, stranded in Mountain View for "3 to 5 days"

Anecdote related to me on Caltrain today.

A rider I know got his brand new Clipper Card. He set up autoload for 8 ride passes, and put $5 in cash onto his card, per instructions from Clipper, that you need to have at least $1.25 in cash in order to use your 8 rides. This is because (insert broken record) the system deducts the full fare for the longest trip possible, and refunds you when you tag off.

He tagged on this AM in San Francisco, and Clipper charged him $12.50 - the fare to Gilroy. In Mountain View, he forgot to tag off. Had he tagged off, the $12.50 would be refunded, and he would have one of his 8 rides deducted. Since he forgot, he was not refunded, and his cash balance went to negative $7.50.

That evening, when he tried to tag on - he saw "TRAVEL INVALID". This was because he didn't have "at least $1.25 in cash on his card". With no Clipper Kiosks on the platform, he was forced to add value online - and wait 3-5 days for that cash to appear on his card, before he could use his 8 ride tickets.


His only option was to buy a 1 way paper ticket from the machines. Well, not his only option, he basically bullshitted the conductor into letting him on (The conductor's reader was broken anyway), but his card is dead unless he finds a live kiosk or waits 3-5 days.

The High Value Ticket would prevent this problem.


Anonymous said...

"The High Value Ticket would prevent this problem."

Or not forgetting to tag off. I mean seriously there's signs at every door on the train. The fact that there's no Clipper kiosks is lame too. But seriously folks, situational awareness!

davidpsummers said...

Maybe you have a good enough memory, but no all of us are so lucky. I try to remember, but after ~$20 down the whole, I'm back to buying paper tickets. So, unless you think there should be a memory test to be able to ride Caltrain, it is an issue.

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

Oops wrong post on this blog...

djconnel said...

It took me a few weeks, then I got to the don't-need-to-remind-myself-to-tag-off phase. In principle, it shouldn't be harder to remember to tag off than to remember to tag on. But then I went to a Feb monthly, so now I'm in tagging withdrawal, that nagging sense that something is dreadfully wrong.

John's "Caltrain Cash" suggestion is brilliant. The obvious solution. That and eliminating the silly 3-day interest period between giving them your money and getting it back.