Transit District to discontinue magnetic-strip tickets

April 10, 2009 1:00:01 PM PDT
The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District Board of Directors agreed at its meeting Wednesday night to discontinue the use of magnetic-strip tickets on all transbay bus lines.

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The decision is designed to speed up commutes during the construction of the new Transbay Terminal, according to AC Transit, which will not accept 10-Ride and 31-Day transbay tickets for rides across the Bay as of Aug. 31.

Instead, passengers on those lines will have to pay fares with TransLink or cash. The elimination of the magnetic-fare tickets is also a step toward AC Transit's goal of making TransLink, a smart card fare collection system, as the primary form of payment for all passengers.

AC Transit operates 26 bus lines into the San Francisco Transbay Terminal, which will be demolished this year to make way for a new Transbay Transit Center that is scheduled to open in 2014.

A temporary terminal will open this fall at Beale and Howard streets, and all transbay service will operate there for about five years, according to AC Transit.

Because the temporary location will be more constrained than the existing terminal, the wait-times for buses will be reduced, according to AC Transit officials, who say the proposed elimination of the magnetic-strip tickets is essential to keep buses on schedule.

The elimination of the tickets only applies to transbay fares and does not affect either local 10-Ride and 31-Day tickets, or UC Berkeley students with identification cards and valid Class Pass stickers.

As an incentive to use TransLink, and to compensate transbay riders for the inconvenience of relocating to the temporary terminal, passengers using TransLink during the evening commute will receive a discount of 25 cents per ride for about six months, according to AC Transit.

The agency will stop selling the transbay magnetic-strip tickets on June 19, and passengers are encouraged to bring or mail the tickets to AC Transit to receive a free TransLink card in exchange, with the value of the old tickets loaded on it.

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