Thursday, May 26, 2011

Daily Caltrain Clipper Anecdote

Riding the train this AM, the fare inspector showed up and shortly afterwards I heard a conversation going on between the inspector and a passenger. Liberal usage of the word "Clipper" ensued of course, and finally I hear "You're going to Sunnyvale? Well, you're going to have to get off at Palo Alto, buy a ticket, and wait for the next train". Which - means a one hour delay for that passenger.

He replied - "Well, I'm not going to do that. I would prefer that you write me a citation that I will contest and get overturned, thanks". Perfect. The inspector was not going to take this lying down, so he did write a citation.

After the dust settled I went to talk to the passenger, whom I recognized, he was a former bikes on board guy who ended up going with a bike in a locker at Sunnyvale. He's been riding the train daily, with a pass, for over 3 years.

Apparently he lost his wallet. He found the wallet (I think it had fallen out of his pack on the way to the train) but a few cards had fallen out, including his Clipper Card. He called Clipper and they cancelled his card and are sending a replacement that will have his pass on it, but it's not here yet. He asked them what to do, they told him to print out the receipt for the old card, and the receipt for the new card showing the same balance. He showed this to the inspector who was not happy with this resolution.

The only foolproof resolution our hero would have is to buy daily tickets. This is "better" than in the paper tickets days when if you lost your pass, you were SOL, but if we're going to spend hundreds of millions on this system, we could come up with some methodology. And despite the fact that it opens all sorts of Pandora's boxes, I do think the fare inspectors should use some judgement on their citations.

Our hero will almost certainly beat the ticket, but will probably spend more than the one hour (plus a one way from PA-SV) he would have lost had he just buckled.



Andrew said...

I haven't lost one yet, but I've had two break on me (they were the older green Translink ones). At that time customer service told me to use another card and pay per ride. Then I had to call in once the replacement card with the pass loaded arrived and have them refund - individually - each large for each direction of the interim. Quite ridiculous - it took several calls and several days to get it right both times

295bus said...

If this happened in SM county, at least our courthouse has wifi now. Tell him to bring a laptop to kill time while waiting to see the judge.

I expect the judge will dismiss it just so he doesn't have to bother figuring all this crap out.