Time running out on Muni’s classic transfers


Muni is one step closer to getting rid of those iconic, color Muni paper transfers.

The current fareboxes, which date back to 1991, will be replaced with machines that can print real-time passes as soon as Muni riders pay their fare. As reported by SFBay, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has been shopping through proposals from potential contractors since last year.

The transit agency is now ready to send a contract to the SFMTA Board of Directors at its June 21 meeting. The $22.7 million contract with SPX GenFare includes 1,350 new fareboxes and 50 spares. The new fareboxes will get placed on all trolley and motor coaches, historic streetcars and light-rail vehicles, including Muni’s newer trains coming in 2017.

UPDATE 6/23 The SFMTA board meeting on June 21 meeting was cancelled. The farebox contract will be heard on June 28.

Documents presented at a SFMTA Citizen Advisory Committee last Thursday said the transit agency plans to pilot the new fareboxes at one of its transit divisions around September and October, and install the rest in the winter.

The new fareboxes will benefit Muni operators, who will not have to carry pre-printed stack of paper transfers and tear off individual passes anymore.

Operators will also not have to remember to change the time on the paper transfer to make sure riders get 90 minutes of travel time. Instead, the new fareboxes will print transfers with a timestamp, which means generous operators who usually give riders a little more time on transfers will end.

The SFMTA said the new pre-printed tickets will provide consistent transfer times for riders, who often receive shorter than 90 minutes on paper transfers. And sometimes, longer.

Another benefit will be curbing the theft and resale of paper transfers on the streets, the transit agency said.

SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said they expect the savings of printing transfers will be offset with other expenses with the new fareboxes.

To educate the public, the transit agency plans to launch a campaign later this year that will address the use of the new fareboxes, as well as the approaching fare hikes.

Rose said:

“The new fareboxes should help get riders on the vehicle quicker and reduce maintenance costs. Additionally, SFMTA is hopeful that the printing of transfers will reduce the use of paper and thus street pollution.”

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn is the San Francisco Bureau Chief of SFBay. A San Francisco native, he has spent a decade covering transportation in San Francisco. Send tips to or at Twitter @Jerold_Chinn.

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