Paper Fast Pass Through the Years

Image courtesy samsast

Today is the last official day to use your paper “M” Fast Pass. As always (and this practice will continue in the future), SFMTA will grant a three-day grace period at the end of the month, so the absolute, drop-dead last day you can use a March 2011 paper “M” Fast Pass is Sunday. But today is March 31, and this month’s pass is the last that the agency will distribute on paper passes.

Let’s take this opportunity to usher the beloved Fast Pass to the netherworld, as we once did with Muni routes that were about to be taken out of service.

A few tidbits about the paper Fast Pass:

  • Ken Schmier is the man who came up with the concept of the Fast Pass. He’s also the mind behind NextBus. Strange, right? But also, not. This happened around 37 years ago, to the best of our knowledge. The first passes went on sale sometime in 1974. The earliest we could find an image of (below) is October 1976.
  • In a blog post from Chronicle Books, designers for the book publisher lamented the lameness of the Clipper card’s look, and paid homage to the beauty of the paper pass.
  • In 2009, local artist John Kuzich opened his Fast Pass exhibit at the de Young Museum. Kuzich asked for people’s passes on Craigslist, then assembled them on panels in really interesting and beautiful ways.
  • Muni Diaries commenter Dexter shares his recollections of the history of the Fast Pass: “I do remember that it came out around 1977 or so and the early ones just featured graphic designs. Later Fast Passes had odd-shaped cutouts to prevent counterfeiting (later removed). Then they switched to photos. I had a collection that was lost when I moved.” Too bad.
  • And of course, in November, we unveiled our first Fast Pass memorabilia product: T-shirts at the Muni Diaries Etsy store, and onesies and hoodies with the same logo available at Secession Art and Design in Bernal Heights. We also have very cool Fast Pass-looking Clipper Card holders at our Etsy store. Look for an awesome new design of cardholders very soon.

Check out these photos of the Fast Passes through time (presented mostly in chronological order) and how San Franciscans have incorporated images of the paper Fast Pass into our favorite holidays. Long live the Fast Pass!

1976 muni fast pass by cranky old mission guy
Photo by Cranky Old Mission Guy

Image courtesy samsast

fast pass collage by steve rhods
Photo by Steve Rhodes

fast passes by christina b castro
Photo by cbcastro

may pole youth pass by christina b castro
Photo by cbcastro

june 1997 fast pass muni by sbfisher
Photo by sbfisher

1996 muni pass by newbirth
Photo by Newbirth35

muni fast passes by chuckbiscuito
Photo by chuckbiscuito

fast pass binder tofuart
Photo by tofuart

get your fast passes by groovymother
Photo by RodBegbie

fast pass costume by brz
Photo by Brianz

fast pass clipper costumes by virginied
Photo by virginied


Leave a Comment