a tale of a few cities

Not too Smart for Bart

Posted in transit by petercombe on November 1, 2009

Navigating the myriad of transit options in San Francisco can be confusing at the best of times never mind trying to operate the ticket dispensers at Bart Stations. I tell you they are the most bizarre pieces of machinery I have ever encountered. Before watching the video below, please take a moment to read the rest of this entry.

You cannot buy a ticket from a human being at Bart Stations, you must do so from a ticket vending machine. Official Bart employees are located yards from the machines thus making it impossible to ask for help while in mid-ticket transaction. A discrete sticker displayed near the screen of the machine states the cost incurred per destination, the cost per destination varies. The purchaser need to take note of the cost before operating. Stunned, one peers into the screen, not really knowing how to proceed. After a few panic stricken moments one might insert one of a few payment options. $20 (cost of ticket) will always appear on the video monitor. $20!!! Panic stricken and an eternity later one notices buttons on the left that add or subtract in increments of $1, two further buttons add or subtract in increments of 5¢. Each change in increment produces the most annoying ‘ding‘. When I first encountered the ticket machines a couple of years ago on a maiden visit to San Francisco, I thought this meant that the machine only accepted single dollar notes or nickel coins as a method of payment. In fact I repeatedly traipsed the many yards it took to inform the nearest Bart employee that all the machines make that demand. Anyway I later realized one’s got to do the button pushing until the total cost incurred for the passage is displayed. Once that is done you may, as most Bart Ticket Vending Virgins do, hit the first button on the right thereby zapping $40 from your ATM or credit card. It goes on and on from here, but I won’t bore you with it. I will say though, that I have yet to attempt to buy a return ticket or groups of tickets. I think I’m too ‘Right Brain’.

The video is a good five minutes. Think of it as an ‘In Training‘ video.

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