Ready to Go

Dear J-

And in the end … I return to the routine, to the ordinary things governing the thousand days until next time, right? I haven’t written a word since getting popped for fare evasion (it says so, right on the ticket) and so … let’s see. I have my bank account linked to my NFC transit card (here in the Bay Area it’s called the Clipper Card and it works on all the region’s major transit agencies — Caltrain, BART, Muni, SamTrans, AC Transit, VTA). It’s actually linked two ways: one adds $20 every time my cash balance dips below $10, and the other purchases a monthly pass the first time during the month that I swipe on (at the originating station) and off (at the destination) during a two-zone ride. Yeah, it’s that complicated.

The point is that once I’ve got the month pass on there I don’t necessarily need to tag on and off for the rest of the month. The complication comes at the beginning of the month, though — if I forget to tag on then I haven’t renewed my pass and I haven’t engaged a hold on the cash value on the card, so it looks like I’m trying to ride for free on an expired ticket. This is patently absurd; I understand my responsibility in having to tag on and off the first ride of the month but that I got popped on the first southbound train of the month is … well … I should have tagged on, I guess. I think on the other hand me having the card linked to my account shows I’m not interested in evading fares. Still.

I think the best course of action going forward is just to get in the habit of tagging on and off for every ride. The worst thing that happens is I forget to tag off and I get charged a four-zone fare, which is not the end of the world, but demonstrates to me how the system is slanted in favor of the transit agency (to be fair, fare collection is always going to be an issue and should probably go to the agency’s favor). It does require a little more effort on my part, though only a minimal amount, so I’m okay with that. It’s about time I got less lazy and reliant on other people taking care of me, after all. So yeah, the past two days: wallowing in pity. Put on the big boy pants and learn to ride.

Mike

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