Bay Area Inconvenience

I have taken public transportation to and from work daily for many years now. I also have traveled and used the public transportation system in numerous cities in the U.S. and abroad. And still, I cannot for the life of me understand who designed the self-service ticket machines that are part of the Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) system. I don’t generally have an issue with the BART trains, the service they provide or the stations, all of which are generally well maintained and serviced. But I do, however, have a problem with the BART ticket machines and the software design behind them.

First, they are not user friendly and require the user to have to add or subtract dollars (in $1 increments) or cents (in $.05 increments) from a starting place of $20.00 to get to the correct amount for purchasing a ticket. Secondly, there is no monthly pass or unlimited pass for daily commuters, which is an inconvenience and non-standard when compared to the public transport systems elsewhere. And then, I recently put money on my Clipper Card (the transport card used across multiple systems in the Bay Area) and it turns out that I can’t use that credit on the BART because it was converted into Clipper Cash, which does not work with BART if the Clipper Card is on “autoload” with a bank account or credit card. It sounds trivial, but it was shocking to learn that I just put $200 on a card only to learn afterwards that I couldn’t use that money on the transport system I intended to use it on.

Believe me, the BART service overall has been more reliable than the MTA’s Metro North Trains I used to depend upon in New York. But the way I am required to administer my ticket purchasing and account management through the BART system is not just an inconvenience, it is annoying and has cost me some money in the past. I’m less than hopeful that changes will occur anytime soon, though, given that we’re in California.  

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