Unnecessary Rudeness: A PSA of Sorts

Photo by Tantek Çelik

A lady gets on a full-ish 47 on Van Ness on Thursday morning. She was sorta not unlike a brunette Anna Nicole Smith, both visually and vocally. She tried unsuccessfully, twice, to tag her Clipper card. Since these were unsuccessful attempts, the driver asked her to try again. She says this in response:

“Can’t you read? It said ‘already processed.’ Fucking idiot.”

So … some friendly reminders and tips for everyone at home:

  • “EH-EH” is the no-no sound. “EH,” singular, is the good sound. Both are really loud and obvious.
  • Those machines always tell you, aurally and on the screen, when your tag worked. Pretty sure it displays a red light if it didn’t.
  • It happens to the best of us. I usually board the bus, rolling my eyes after two tries, and tag at the back doors.
  • The drivers can be faulted for a great many things, but failure to tag a card on persnickety machines isn’t one of them.

She was sweet as pie to the passengers, perhaps realizing how snatchy the whole exchange was.



  • rachael

    I’ve noticed that trying to tag again too soon after it rejects will just make it beep twice again, so being patient and giving it a second helps.

    Though honestly, more often than not clipper has the “not responding” message up when I board my buses in the morning.

  • Clipper has made boarding take even longer than if everyone paid with cash.

  • … at which point riders should yell at and insult the driver?

  • Martin

    If you successfully tag on a vehicle and then try to tag again on the same vehicle within some certain time period (not sure what it is) then it *will* fail the second time saying the card was already processed, so the passenger might have been right in this case.

    I imagine this “feature” is intended to make it harder to tag one person in and then tag a second person in on the same card, thus sharing a transfer/pass. Doesn’t make much sense on a bus where the driver is watching, but makes more sense for fare gates or whatever.

    • not sure what you mean, Martin. there was no second-tagging on the same vehicle by the same person. the woman in the story never successfully tagged before calling the driver a “fucking idiot.”

  • Zach

    It’s certainly true the drivers can’t be faulted and there’s no cause for such rudeness one way or another. That being said, it’s pretty easy to get frustrated at the Clipper system (or at least Muni’s implementation of it), which seems to fail more often than not. The driver doesn’t deserve the abuse, but a system that requires three tries to successfully validate that you have a monthly pass is idiotic.

    Clipper has recently been foisted on hundreds of thousands of riders who have little interest in the technology, managing their accounts, and understanding the intricacies of the system. Many of these riders have had to jump through considerable hoops to obtain a senior or disabled card and are already frustrated at that inconvenience. Add the card readers not working and the delays while passengers scan and rescan their cards, and it’s easy to see why folks are fed up with Clipper.

    So yes. Drivers absolutely shouldn’t be subjected to this kind of abuse and they certainly aren’t responsible for Clipper, but perhaps the Clipper system frequently acts like a “fucking idiot” in the eyes of many riders.

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