SFMTA fare inspectors and SFPD officers check Muni riders for proof-of-payment in front of 16th Street BART. (Photo by Anrica Deb)

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About 10 SFMTA fare inspectors and SFPD officers have been stopping buses and issuing tickets at Mission and 16th streets since shortly after noon today as part of their regular “saturation” all over the city.

SFTMA fare inspector Marco S. Caterina* said they spend a few hours each day at a different intersection — having spent yesterday at McAllister Street and Van Ness Avenue — checking Muni riders for proof-of-payment and checking IDs of those without it. SFPD officers stand by as enforcement.

But members of Muni Operators & Riders Expanding Public Transit (M.O.R.E. Public Transit) stood nearby, handing out fliers for a May 5 rally at City Hall, saying that they’d seen this going on for about four months.

“There will be three buses lined up and people are just trying to get to work and get somewhere,” said Sarah Carlson of M.O.R.E. Public Transit.

She and her colleague, Forrest Schmidt, said this particularly has been a problem for non-English-speaking riders, saying they get threatened with arrest and even deportation if they fail to show any identification.

* He disclosed it is not his real last name.

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Kimberly is currently a journalism major and business minor at San Francisco State University. Come May 2010, she will be moving on to bigger and better things, i.e. living and breathing journalism, not just studying it. But for now you can usually find her at City Hall every Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meetings. Having lived her entire life in San Francisco, she itches to travel far and wide, most likely to be convinced that every other city and town pales in comparison.

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  1. I understand the concept of Muni personnel checking the various transit options (one-day Passport, three-day Passport, seven-day Passport, A Premium inclusive of (BART usage), CityPass, Disabled, Lifeline, M Muni-Only exclusive of (BART usage), Senior, Translink and Youth for proof of payment.

    My only disagreement is with my trial usage of TransLink/Clipper card. Muni fare inspectors inform that their handheld card reader can’t verify its validity through plastic cardholder because it is not comparable to the TransLink/Clipper card readers on coaches. That is not the passengers’ fault. Customers have to remove their TransLink/Clipper for validity. Make handheld card reader comparable to actual TransLink/Clipper card readers.

    I find this very intrusive and inconvenience. All the sources below do not indicate that customers have to remove their TransLink/Clipper® card from anything for validity. Customers place their Translink/Clipper cards into holders to protect the card from the elements. A loose Translink card in a pocket, hip pocket, back pocket and purse is subject to being lost.

    Source: proper translink card storage.pdf

    See page 2 of the following web-link regarding proper storage of TransLink (Clipper).


    All of the above transit options exclusive of TransLink/Clipper can be displayed (flash) with no action taken (for validity) by the holders. I would rather tag the vehicle TransLink/Clipper card reader again to indicate the TransLink/Clipper card was already processed. There should be equality among the transit options.

    Free Translink® cards for all Muni customers!

    Source: http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mfares/TransLink.htm

    Clipper® users must tag their cards when entering the fare gates at Muni Metro stations or when boarding a Muni bus, streetcar or light rail vehicle. Muni fare inspectors or other authorized personnel may request a customer’s Clipper® card to verify its validity. POP–Muni fare inspectors or other authorized personnel may issue citations to customers who fail to display valid proof of payment upon request. Source: Available at all transit shelters with transit maps.

    Should I ask for a transfer when I board a Muni vehicle? How can I prove that I paid?
    TransLink will automatically calculate the 90-minute transfer period on Muni, so you are not required to carry a paper transfer. You must tag your card each time you transfer and enter a vehicle so that the card reader can confirm the transfer period is still in effect. The card reader will beep and show a green light to indicate that your transfer is valid. Transit fare inspectors have handheld card readers and conduct random checks of TransLink customers to ensure that they have tagged their cards properly. The handheld card reader only confirms that you have proper payment; it does not affect your card balance. Source:

    (a) For any passenger or other person in or about any public transit station (including an outdoor high-level boarding platform or station operated by the Bay Area Rapid Transit District), streetcar, cable car, motor coach, trolley coach or other public transit vehicle to evade any fare collection system or proof of payment program instituted by the Municipal Transportation Agency.
    (b) For any person to board or ride a streetcar, motor coach, trolley coach without prior or concurrent payment of fare.
    (c) For any person to board a streetcar, motor coach, trolley coach through the rear exit except: (i) when a representative of the transit system is present at such exit for the collection of fares or transfers or the inspection for proof of payment; (ii) when the streetcar, motor coach, trolley coach or other transit vehicle is operating at a station or boarding platform where fares are collected prior to boarding the transit vehicle; (iii) when necessary for access by persons with disabilities on wayside boarding platforms; or (iv) when the streetcar, motor coach, or trolley coach is operating on a transit line or in a Proof of Payment Zone.
    (d) To fail to display a valid fare receipt or transit pass at the request of any authorized representative of the transit system or duly authorized peace officer while on a transit vehicle or in a Proof of Payment Zone.
    (e) To misuse any transfer, pass, ticket, or token with the intent to evade the payment of any fare.
    (f) To knowingly use or attempt to use any illegally printed, duplicated, or otherwise reproduced token, card, transfer or other item for entry onto any transit vehicle or into any transit station with the intent of evading payment of a fare.
    (g) For any unauthorized person to use a discount ticket or fail to present, upon request from a system fare inspector, acceptable proof of eligibility to use a discount ticket. (127)
    (Amended by Ordinance. 287-08, File No. 081340, App. 12/5/2008)

    Source: http://www.municode.com/content/4201/14143/HTML/ach007.html

    What is the difference between TransLink and Clipper?
    The card still works in the exact same way! Simply touch your card to the card reader to verify your pass, or deduct the fare from your cash balance.

    The only difference is that the gold chip that is seen on the TransLink card is now an internal chip in the Clipper card.


    I would enter Metro stations, but not exit from Metro stations to avoid this inconvenience from transit fare inspectors.

    Muni Regulations Local & State


    (Notice: All Activity within Muni Facilities is Video Recorded)

    • Any Eating, Drinking, or Smoking
    • Using Skates, or Skateboarding
    • Bringing Bicycles on the Metro
    • Any Miscue of Muni Facilities
    • Any Disruptive Behavior
    • Disturbing Others with Sound Producing Devices
    • Selling Transfers/Fare Media
    • Malicious Mischief (Vandalism)
    • Transportation of Hazardous Materials
    • Loitering
    • Trespassing on Trackways

    (T.C. 127, 128, P.C. 240, & Associated Sub-Sections)

    Proper ID Required for Discount Fare

    Proof of Payment Required at all times

    Source: Posted on Metro Platform Wall

    Customers are allowed to ride without cash payment if the Clipper reader is malfunctioning; however, transfers will not be issued. Customers will be asked to pay cash if their Clipper card is malfunctioning or there is no value on the card.

    Source: http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mfares/ClipperFactSheet.htm

    This is true, if the Clipper Card reader in not working, operators are supposed to treat it the same as a broken fare box and let the patron ride for free. Upon doing so the operator is not to issue a transfer. If you should encounter this type of situation, make sure to record the bus number and please report it to 311. Also keep the bus number just incase you should encounter a problem with a proof of payment officer.

    Source: “Munipsrweb”

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