A nontrivial revenue loss from canceling the Gilroy train, as is presently planned in Caltrain's "lay a turd" schedule proposal, is the "swindle" will essentially be over: they'll have only 4 zones with which to play.
From the comments, berk says...
Being charged a ride from SF to Gilroy, by default, is stupid and reeks of poor systems design, swindling, or perhaps both.
A recurring theme on board the trains these days - that Clipper was put in place because Caltrain is trying to "rip off" their customers. A rider on the train the other day had tapped his card twice in San Mateo on the way South, thus tagging on and then annulling his tag on. He wasn't checked on the way South, and "tagged off" at Lawrence - actually tagging on at Lawrence and eventually paying cash for a ride to San Francisco. This put his cash balance below zero, and despite six eight rides on his card, he was unable to board Northbound that evening. The conspiracy theorists came out - Caltrain is doing this because they are greedy! The system was designed as it was because they sat in a room and figured out how best to screw the riders!
I made what I thought was a pretty clear case that Caltrain isn't greedy - it's not like they are Bank of America, enriching themselves and their shareholders at the customers expense by nickel and diming them. And that I really think the people at Caltrain are decent folk, and wouldn't try to rip us off. Of course, the rebuttal to this was the story about Mike Scanlon's salary.
Fun fact - BART charges you $5.20 when you enter the BART system. If you don't "tag off" when you leave, you will be zinged for that fare. The fare inside San Francisco is $1.75 - if you forget to tag off, sorry pal. Of course, this isn't as onerous as charging you the $10.90 fare from Pittsburg to SFO, but it's true nonetheless. People just don't notice it because you nobody "forgets" to tag off of BART - if you skip the fare gates, it's pretty much intentional fare evasion (and you don't have to have $5.20 on your card to enter the system).
People forget to tag off from Caltrain for several reasons. Obviously, the system is not enclosed. We haven't been "trained" to tag off - I've gotten a lot better over time, that's for sure. But Caltrain has not really done its part. There are not enough tag readers at the station, and they aren't exactly in the best locations - as this photo shows...
More readers, at established places on the platform where the train doors would generally open, near transfer points or exits, would greatly help. Instead Caltrain has just deferred and called it "user error", rather than proactively trying to assist their customers. Signage in the train urging people to tag off is useful, but pretty lame in the whole scheme of things - it certainly hasn't done the trick.
The problem is user error. That's what we expect out of Redmond, not Cupertino.
The upshot is that Caltrain has produced a PR debacle at the exact moment where they are also asking their ridership to help them campaign for new taxes to support the train.
Stupid and reeking of poor system design, swindling, or both?
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