Monday, April 4, 2011

Clipper exploit?

I am blogging from Caltrain right now. For this month I have a Zone 1-3 pass, this is my first ride of the month. Due to poor system design, I am supposed to tag on/off for this ride, exactly from zone 1-3 or 3-1. If I don't tag - citation. If I get off at BART and tag off at zone 2, I pay $4.50 to ride less than the pass I own allows, and my pass is still not activated.

This is asinine. To explore the algorithm the lovelies at Clipper designed, I decided to try an experiment. At Sunnyvale, in zone 3, I tagged on. $8.50 - the fare to Gilroy, was deducted. Then I tagged off - this should annul my trip and it did, refunding my $8.50. The question is - was my pass activated (probably not). I do know that the pass had been "loaded" - I had seen that on a ride last month (why not just activate it?).

I got on the train and found a conductor to ask if my pass was valid. He tagged my card and it said "YES ZONE 3 - ZONE 3".???

It did not say monthly.

I'm hazarding a guess that there is a bug that would allow you to tag on, annul the trip, and ride in the same zone.

I got off in Mountain View and tagged again.

1 comment:

djconnel said...

My Caltrain story from yesterday: I get to MV at my usual time (6:34 pm) and there's 277 on the platform, waiting to depart northward. I usually catch 383 @ 6:38; there shouldn't be a train there. They are late, the conductor says, because of a switching problem. I get on without delay: I can swap to 383 @ Menlo Park.

Approaching Menlo, I can hear on the conductor's radio 383 talking. "This is 383, interference, interference". Where's 383, I ask, are they right behind? They're behind, I am told. But are they right behind? No idea. But I hear them on the radio, I say. No idea.

I decide to go with what I know, and avoid the chaos at Menlo Park and sit still. Just out of Redwood City, we slow to a crawl and 383 blows by.

Twitter Caltrain was no help, unfortunately.

On 206 that morning a woman who'd passed me riding to 22nd was cited because she'd switched to an 8-ride this month and had gotten Gilroyed. $5 balance was now -$7. It was her second day in a row getting cited, somehow. She didn't understand why it wasn't able to use her 8-ride credit when her net balance (8-ride + cash value) was obviously positive. She was a slow learner, perhaps, but then @ 6:14 am it's easy to be a little slow. She was told 8-rides are being phased out. The conductor didn't know if a similarly discounted product would replace it.