BART's 'tiny tickets' add to huge scamBy Janine Kozanda
I've been a daily BART rider in the Bay Area for years now, and you know what bothers me most?
It's not the ridiculously high prices nor the lack of station agent personnel. It's not the fact that the rest rooms were locked down after Sept. 11, 2001, and never reopened, or that the seats and carpeting on the trains are as disgusting as any porn theater.
It's not even that the trains are always late and overcrowded, if they're running at all.
I can and do accept these things with equanimity because BART still beats driving into San Francisco every day or riding the County Connection.
What I can't stand, however, is the institutionalized rip-off known in BART lingo as "tiny tickets."
Every BART rider knows what I'm talking about. It's the myriad leftover tickets with only a nickel, a dime or a quarter in value. I see people on the trains every day, shuffling through decks of these useless chits that multiply in our purses, wallets and work bags like bacteria. I see BART patrons shuffling through stacks of essentially worthless "tiny tickets" like Vegas blackjack dealers ... tickets that if consolidated would equal God only knows how many additional round-trip fares.
Being a business and computer systems analyst for a living, I can't help but do the math. X number of riders per month times X number of tiny tickets must net how much extra dough for BART?
Hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, possibly millions left over in BART's system and in their pockets.
No business can carry that much liability on their books forever, which is why most "store credits" and gift certificates expire after a certain period of time.
At some point, BART must roll that money out of the GL line where they might have to provide service for it, and into the "finders keepers loser weepers ha ha we won" fund.
Otherwise, where does it all go?
I've said it many times, grumbling in line at an antiquated BART ticket machine. If they can take the value from one old ticket and apply it the next, then why can't they take the value from multiple old tickets and do the same?
The logic to consolidate ticket values and add them together is already in the system.
They could fix this problem, for their customers anyway, by altering what amounts to a single line of computer code.
What really burns more than anything though, is now BART has the gall to put up posters asking riders to "donate" their tiny tickets to Bay Area charities.
If BART can transfer tiny ticket money to local nonprofits, then they can certainly transfer it back to us, their patrons.
I took a vow today, as I was purchasing my BART pass for the week.
No more tiny tickets in my wallet! BART is never getting another extra nickel (or dime) out of me!
Copyright ©2007 Contra Costa Times. Published 02/03/2007.