Stan’s Obligatory Blog

Happy Halloween

8/15/2012

Rant du jour

Filed under: — stan @ 11:02 pm

Lately I’ve been going downtown for stair climbing practice a lot. I’ve been doing it for about two years now, and I’ve found that the train is a very easy and convenient way to get there. They sell a Metro Day Pass ticket at the vending machines for $5, and that’s just the thing if you’re going to be taking four trains or more. Since going to the skyscrapers on Bunker Hill or Figueroa St involves both the light-rail Gold Line and a short ride on the subway, the Day Pass is the way to go.

So I started thinking that maybe getting a TAP card might be useful. That way, I wouldn’t have to stop at the ticket machine every time before going downtown. I thought it just might be simpler.

I had a look at the TAP web site, and it said:

Using TAP couldn’t be easier. When boarding a Metro bus or other participating transit systems, simply tap your card on the farebox located at the bus entrance. Listen for the beep and look for the message on the farebox’s display screen confirming your card’s validity. When tapping for Metro Rail, place your card flat on the reader, wait for the green light, listen for the beep, and look for the “Go” message on the validator.

Sounds simple, right? It said also that the card can be loaded with both a cash value for single rides, and one or more Day Passes. So I got to thinking, the card reader just says yes or no, and it doesn’t have any buttons on it. So if my card has both on it, how does it know which to use when I go through the turnstile. Sure, most of the time, I’m going to need the Day Pass, but there are times when I don’t. So how does it handle that? I wrote to them:

So if I put a day pass on my card, and I just ride one train, I’m still using the day pass? The FAQ says I can put both that and a cash value on the card, but there’s no indication of how to tell it which one to use when I’m going through the turnstile.

And this was the answer:

As the day pass is a more powerful fare, the day fare is always read before the cash fare.

More powerful fare???? Why I outta…

So at this point, I figured that the card with Day Passes would still be more convenient for days when I need that. And I can just pay cash for single rides on the rare occasions when I need that.

On my way in to the office, I stopped off at the ticket machine at the Allen station to get a card to use that evening when I went to stair practice. The machine gave me an option to get a card with a Day Pass on it. I didn’t see an option to get a card with more than one Day Pass on it. But I did see an option to add passes to an existing card. So I ran my credit card and got the TAP card with the single Day Pass on it. Then I followed the instructions to add value to the card. It gave an option to add a Day Pass. One Day Pass. There was no button for ‘How many do you want?’

So now I’m irritated all over again. I wrote to them again and asked about this:

I got the card with a day pass on it. But I’m going to be going downtown 2-3 times a week for the next couple of months. So I wanted to add more passes to it. The machine would only let me add one pass per transaction. Why is that? If I have to stop at the machine and do a full transaction for every pass I add to the card, how is that easier or more convenient than buying a paper ticket each time?

How can I add multiple passes to the card at one time?

And this was the answer:

You can add more than one day pass at a vendor site, such as a check cashing location or a Metro Service Center.

So now I have to make a special trip somewhere? Sheesh:

The machines allow for buying multiple paper tickets. Why not this? Seems simple enough. If I have to go somewhere else to do this, or have to do one transaction per pass on the machine, I might just as well just keep using the paper tickets.

And they said:

The paper passes will be phased out by the end of August. You may load up to 8 passes at the machines as well as the vendor.

So I can put 8 passes on the card at the machine. I wrote back and asked how:

But how do I do that? I couldn’t find anything to do more than one at a time.

You just keep doing an new order for each day pass at the vending machine.

So I have to do a single transaction for each pass each time. And this is easier than just buying a ticket each time how?

Also, according to this, in two weeks, I’m going to be forced to use the card. And so I’ll have to carry two of them. One for Day Passes, and one with just cash value for single rides. And because the cards are identical, I’ll have to figure out how to keep track of which one is which.

Jean-Luc Picard thinks this is stupid

At this point, I kind of lost it. I wrote back to them:

I realize that you’re not the one who designed the system. But can you
pass on to them that that’s just plain stupid.

I know it’s not your fault, but seriously, they thought to put in a
‘buy more than one paper ticket’ option, but not ‘add more than one
pass to a card’?

As a computer person, I think whoever programmed that should be taken
out back and beaten.

And they said:

We will gladly forward your input and suggestions to the development team. Any feedback is good feedback. :)

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