uFixIt: Muni riders irritated by Clipper card sounds

February 18, 2011 5:24:04 AM PST
Some riders on Muni are tired of the sounds the Clipper card makes when swiped. The I-Team learned about this problem through uReport.

Christopher Rogers describes the sound he heard when he boarded the Muni light rail vehicle on the T-Third line like having an alarm clock in your ear.

"It's like having a piercing alarm clock at hip level as you're crunched onto a commuter streetcar -- can't get away from it. It's right there next to you, but you have to put up with it to get downtown," he said.

The noise was coming from the reader where commuters swipe their pre-paid Clipper cards to pay the fare.

"This was happening right next to me. I was trapped with it. So... I pulled out my phone and started filming it," Rogers said.

He posted the video on his blog, the M Ocean View Journal. Other bloggers have posted videos that show the same problem.

"In this video, you see this guy looking down. He's really trying to ignore the noise, and he doesn't want to stand up, but it, it's pretty overwhelming, this noise," Eugenia Chien, who runs the Muni Diaries website, said.

Chien said it's a problem that needs to be fixed right away.

"Well, I think Muni and Clipper simply need to figure out what the problems are with Clipper card readers and fix them once and for all," she said.

"It was a completely unanticipated problem," John Goodwin, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission said.

The MTC oversees the Clipper card system for Bay Area transit agencies including Muni. Goodwin says the MTC has figured out what's been causing the problem.

"The problem was that the card readers would go into a continuous beeping loop if more than one card entered the field of that card reader," he said.

Goodwin said the contractor that maintains the Clipper card readers has written a software patch to stop the unwanted noise. It should be installed on all Clipper card readers by Friday.

"Your viewers will not experience this anymore," he said.

Chien says that's a relief for everyone who uses a Clipper card.

"We all have this new form of payment and we want it to be more convenient," she said.

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