Broken Clipper Machine on a Crowded Bus: Should you be cited? (update)
Photo by Agent Akit
Update (12:39 p.m.): SFMTA got back to us on this. Turns out Kazuko was wrongly cited.
The actions described in this account are not consistent with our policy. If the reader is out of service, the patron is not cited if they have a valid Clipper card. The supervisors will remind all TFI’s of this policy.
Sadly, Kazuko will have to protest the citation. Not an easy chore.
But rider Kazuko said that the policy is still not being enforced systemwide, particularly on crowded buses:
I got on 38L at Geary and Divisadero around 5:10 pm on August 17, 2011. As you can imagine at the height of a rush hour, the bus was completely packed. I entered the bus from the middle entrance. I swiped my Clipper card which had more than $20 left on it, but the machine was not responding. I tired a few times to swipe it to no avail.
When the bus stopped at Van Ness, a few officers got on the bus to check everyone’s ticket. As I presented my clipper card, the officer told me to get off the bus, even though he had scanned my card and knewI had more than enough fare left on my card. Confused, I asked him why. He said I needed to get off the bus. I had no choice but to obey. Outside, the officer told me he had to issue me a ticket.
I told him repeatedly that I have swiped the card but the machine was broken. He said, “There are three machines on the bus. You should have walked up to ALL of them to see if they are working. As it stands now, you got on the bus without paying so it is my job to issue you a ticket.” As I had stated earlier, the bus was extremely packed. After he finished writing me the ticket, he then proceeded to tell me that, “With this ticket, you have one COMPLEMENTARY bus ride. You don’t have to pay for your next ride.”
If this some kind of joke?
We’ll get in touch with SFMTA about readers in the back of vehicles, and the policy for when buses are jam-packed. It doesn’t seem fair to me if fare inspectors are instructed to ticket under any circumstance and let riders fend for themselves protesting their citations.