TransLinkLogo

TransLink®
Frequently Asked Questions

OVERVIEW

TransLink® accepted on Bay Area Transit Agencies, including AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit and Golden Gate Ferry, and Muni

What is TransLink?

How does TransLink work?

How can Golden Gate customers obtain a TransLink card?

What types of TransLink cards are available?

 

TransLink ACCOUNT BASICS

How do I open my TransLink account and get a TransLink card?

What does the TranskLink Card cost?

How do I add cash or value to my TransLink card?

What is Autoload?

How much e-cash can I have on my card?

How does TransLink handle transfers between routes or between transit systems?

How does TransLink calculate the appropriate bus or ferry fare?

How do I check my balance on my TransLink card?

Do Add Value Machines give change?

Where can I add value to my TransLink card?

What happens if a card’s e-cash value falls below zero?

How does TransLink work with employee transit benefit programs?

How does TransLink work with the Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Discount Card program?

What do I do if my card is lost or stolen?

Can a hole be punched in a TransLink card, so I can wear it around my neck or clip it to a belt or purse?

I accidentally put my TransLink card in the wash. Will it still work?

Will the TransLink card demagnetize my credit cards?

 

HOW DO I USE TRANSLINK

Now that I have my card, how do I use it?

I accidentally tagged my card twice. Was I charged twice?

Can I pay for myself and someone else using my TransLink card?

If I get on the wrong bus and tag my card can the bus driver “un-tag” me?

Can other people see how much money I have on my card when I tag it?

 

TRANSFER INFORMATION

How do I transfer between Golden Gate Transit and AC Transit?

How do I transfer between Golden Gate Transit/Ferry and other transit operators?

How do transfers work with TransLink?

How can I tell if my transfer has expired?

What do I do if TransLink charges me a full fare instead of granting me a transfer?

I’m transferring to AC Transit. Will they recognize my fare and give me my discount?


OVERVIEW

TransLink® accepted on Bay Area Transit Agencies, including AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit and Golden Gate Ferry, and Muni!
In November 2006, AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit and Golden Gate Ferry began accepting the TransLink smart card to pay transit fares in a test enviroment. Since then, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the six largest Bay Area transit operators and the TransLink Contractor have been working together to ready the TransLink system for deployment. Since September 17, 2007, AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit and Golden Gate Ferry accept TransLink as the fully operational and tested fare system for all customers. Muni currently testing the system on its bus, light-rail and cable car systems.

 

What is TransLink?
A survey of Bay Area voters showed that 76% of respondents ranked a universal transit fare card as their top requested transportation improvement. In response, MTC and Bay Area transit agencies are introducing TransLink, a smart card fare payment technology that allows public transit riders to use Bay Area public transit without worrying about the varying fare structures on different transit systems and without having to carry cash, ticket books or passes.

 

How Does TransLink Work?
TransLink is EASY! The handy, sleek TransLink smart card (about the size of a credit card) keeps the cash you would normally use to pay transit fares or to buy ticket books on one smart card, eliminating the need for transit passes, ticket books and transfers. The TransLink card automatically deducts the correct fare, including the appropriate discount and transfers, for each transit trip.

 

How can Golden Gate customers obtain a TransLink card ?
There are many opportunities to obtain a card -- via telephone, website, sales outlets, etc. For adults, youth (6-18) and senior (65+) fare passengers:

  • Online at www.translink.org
  • Call 1-877-878-8883 (TTY/TDD 711 or 1-800-735-2929)
  • Mail application (from TransLink brochure or downloaded from www.translink.org)
  • Go to a participating transit agency ticket office or a store displaying the TransLink logo
  • At work through your employee transit benefit program

For persons with disabilities and other seniors, see below.

 

What types of TransLink cards are available?
Cards for adults, seniors (65+), youth (6-18) and persons with disabilities are available. All cards automatically calculate the appropriate discounted fare (e.g., Ride Value, senior or youth discounts). To obtain a senior, person with disabilities or a youth TransLink card, you must visit the transit agency’s ticket office and must show proof of eligibility. People with disabilities will be asked to complete a Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Discount card application if they do not already have an RTC card.


TransLink Card

TransLink ACCOUNT BASICS

1.  How do I open my TransLink account and get a TransLink card?

For adults, youth (6-18) and senior (65+) fare passengers:

  • Online at www.translink.org
  • Call 1-877-878-8883 (TTY/TDD 711 or 1-800-735-2929)
  • Mail application (from TransLink brochure or downloaded from www.translink.org)
  • Go to a participating transit agency ticket office or a store displaying the TransLink logo
  • At work through your employee transit benefit program

For persons with disabilities and other seniors:

Eligible passengers with disabilities and seniors requiring a photo identification card are invited to apply for a Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Discount/TransLink card. Customers need to complete an application and submit it in person to a location listed below. Applications are available by calling one of these locations:

Golden Gate Transit Administration Building

1011 Andersen Dr

San Rafael, CA 94901

415-257-4407 (711 TDD)

APPOINTMENT REQUIRED

Marin Senior Coordinating Council (Whistlestop Wheels)

930 Tamalpais Ave

San Rafael, CA 94901

415-456-9062 (711 TDD)

APPLICATIONS ACCEPTED MONDAY-THURSDAY, 10 am - 3 pm

 

2.  What does the TranskLink Card cost?
The TransLink card is FREE if the Autoload feature (see below for more on Autoload) is set up at the time of purchase, or $5 without Autoload. The Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Discount TransLink card for persons with disabilities is $5.

 

3.  How do I add cash or value to my TransLink card?
You can add “cash” or increase the value on your TransLink card electronically (e-cash) online, by phone, at selected transit stations/office locations and at retail outlets. The easiest way to add e-cash is to use the Autoload feature which allows value to be added automatically using a pre-authorized secure transfer of funds from a bank account or credit card to your TransLink card.

The value of each ride is deducted from your e-cash balance when you use your TransLink card, and all applicable discounts are applied automatically for eligible customers. E-cash never expires, so this is the best choice if you currently pay with cash or Ride Value/Frequent Ferry Rider ticket.

Adult fare passengers who use e-cash on Golden Gate Transit will receive the current Ride Value discount (20%). On Golden Gate Ferry, they will receive the Frequent Ferry Rider discount.

You can add value to your card (e-cash) in these ways:

  • *Online: When you visit www.translink.org, you can choose between adding value one time only or automatically with Autoload
  • *By phone: Call the TransLink Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-877-878-8883
  • In person: Just go to a store displaying the TransLink logo or to a participating transit agency ticket office. Hand your card to the vendor or agency personnel and tell them the amount and type of value you wish to add
  • Add Value Machine (AVM): Self-serve machines are located at transit stations and transfer hubs. Locations and instructions are available at www.translink.org
  • At work: You can add value to your TransLink card with your employee transit benefit. Visit www.translink.org for more information

*If you add value online or by phone, you will need to wait one business day for your value to become active.

 

4.  What is Autoload?
Autoload is the fastest, easiest way to make sure you always have value on your card. With Autoload, you pre-authorize a secure transfer of electronic funds from your bank account or credit card directly to your TransLink card. You can add e-cash and/or load a transit pass. Set up Autoload online or by completing an application.

 

5.  How much e-cash can I have on my card?
You can have a maximum of $299.99 in e-cash value on your TransLink card. The minimum load value is $0.01. However, at an Add Value Machine, the minimum amount is $1. The minimum credit or debit card amount is $20 per transaction.

 

6.  How does TransLink calculate the appropriate bus or ferry fare?
Golden Gate Ferry
A TransLink device is installed near all ferry terminal fare gates. Simply “tag” your card upon entering in San Francisco or Larkspur by placing your card flat against the TransLink logo on the card reader and hold until you hear the beep. The appropriate discounted ferry fare will be deducted from your card.

Golden Gate Transit
Simply “tag” your card upon entering the bus by placing your card flat against the TransLink logo on the card reader and hold until you hear the beep. At the completion of the trip, you need to “tag” your card to the card reader again and hold for beep. The system then calculates and deducts the appropriate discount fare from your card. If you do not “tag off,” you will be assessed the highest fare from your point of origin. Range of highest fares is between $4.68 and $7.40.

Examples of how TransLink fare is applied:

1.       Customer boards in San Rafael (Zone 3) for San Francisco (Zone 1)

          Appropriate discount fare = $3.84

When customer tags on in San Rafael, TransLink applies the highest listed discounted fare for that zone (Zone 3 to Zone 6, or $4.68). When customer tags off in San Francisco, TransLink calculates the Zone 3 to Zone 1 fare ($3.84) and gives the customer a refund of 84¢ ($4.68 - 3.84 = $0.84).

2.       Customer boards in San Francisco (Zone 1) for San Anselmo (Zone 3)

          Appropriate discount fare = $3.84

When customer tags on in San Francisco, TransLink applies the highest listed discounted fare for that zone (Zone 1 to Zone 6, or $7.40). When customer tags off in San Anselmo, TransLink calculates the Zone 1 to Zone 3 fare ($3.86) and gives the customer a refund of $3.56 ($7.40 - 3.84 = $3.56).

For transferring customers, TransLink applies the highest discounted fare when tagging on the second bus but credits the full amount back when the customer tags off upon disembarking.

 

7.  How does TransLink handle transfers between bus/ferry routes or between transit systems?
Your TransLink card keeps track of prior rides and automatically grants transfer discounts where appropriate. Just tag your card to a TransLink card reader when you enter a station or board a vehicle, and let TransLink do the rest. If you plan to transfer to a system that does not yet accept TransLink, ask the station agent or vehicle operator for a paper transfer after you have paid your fare with your TransLink card.

Muni is testing TransLink system on its bus, light-rail and cable car systems. GGT customers transferring to Muni may use their TransLink card for continuing travel.

8.  How do I check my balance on my TransLink card?
You can check your card balance by looking at the TransLink card reader display when tagging your card, by calling the TransLink Customer Service Center at 1-877-878-8883, or by visiting a self-serve Add Value Machine, a participating transit agency ticket office or a participating store displaying the TransLink logo. For locations, go to www.translink.org or call the Customer Service Center.

 

9.  Do Add Value Machines give change?
No. If you do not have the exact amount that you want to add to your card, the additional funds are added to your TransLink card as e-cash.

 

10.  Where can I add value to my TransLink card?
You can add value to your TransLink card at a transit agency’s ticket office or at an Add Value Machine. Add Value Machines are located at the San Francisco Ferry Terminal, Larkspur Ferry Terminal, Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza bus stops, San Rafael Transit Center, GGT's San Rafael bus facility (1011 Andersen Dr) and GGT's Santa Rosa bus lot (Piner & Industrial).

 

11.  What happens if a card’s e-cash value falls below zero?
If a ride costs more than the e-cash balance on your TransLink card, you can complete your trip on that route even if the fare exceeds the card’s remaining balance. However, you will be unable to transfer until value is added back to the card. Value must be added before you use your card again. The negative value is deducted from the card balance when new value is added.

Note: A minimum e-cash balance must be present on the card in order to register a valid tag. If a customer has a negative e-cash balance, the card balance will need to be replenished in order to take any subsequent trips (including transfers) on that card.

 

12.  How does TransLink work with employee transit benefit programs?
You can buy a TransLink card and add value with a transit benefit voucher. Simply take your voucher to a participating retailer or transit agency ticket office to purchase a card and/or value. Participating transit benefit programs include Commuter Check and WageWorks. For information on how TransLink works with all employee transit benefit programs, visit www.translink.org. Participating transit benefit programs are working with TransLink to seamlessly coordinate Autoload to a customer’s TransLink card.

Currently, Commuter Checks can be used to load value at participating retail outlets and transit agency ticket offices.

 

13.  How does TransLink work with the Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Discount Card program?
If you are already enrolled in the RTC card program and wish to obtain an RTC Discount TransLink card, call 415-257-4407 (GGT) or 415-456-9062 (Whistlestop Wheels) to request a mail-in replacement card application. The $5 replacement fee will be waived if the old RTC card is exchanged for the new card at GGT or Whistestop Wheels. The processing agency will produce the RTC Discount TransLink card and return it to GGT or Whistlestop Wheels. You will then be called to schedule a pick-up appointment.

 

14.  What do I do if my card is lost or stolen?
If you've registered your card and it is lost, stolen or damaged (with the exception of RTC Discount TransLink cards), you should report this to the TransLink Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-877-878-8883. Your card will be blocked from further use, and you will be mailed a new card with the same balance. There is a $10 fee for restoring the value and replacing your card. If you have not registered your card and it is lost, stolen or damaged, nothing can be done. You can register your card online at www.translink.org, over the phone at 1-877-878-8883 or at a participating transit agency.

For RTC Discount TransLink cardholders, please phone or visit a customer service location listed below to request a mail-in replacement card application. There will be a $5 fee for restoring the value or replacing the card.

If you lost your card, you can call Golden Gate Lost and Found (Bus: 415-257-4476: Ferry: 415-925-5565) to see if it has been turned in. To retrieve your card, you will need to have your name written on the back or be able to provide the serial number on the front of the card.

 

15.  Can a hole be punched in a TransLink card so I can wear it around my neck or clip it to a belt or purse?
No. The TransLink card is actually a small radio transmitter. Bending, punching a hole in or altering your TransLink card in any way will damage the small antenna inside. This antenna is used to send information between the smart card and the card reader. If the antenna is damaged, the card will not function properly.

 

16.  I accidentally put my TransLink card in the wash. Will it still work?
The smart card is designed to withstand a great deal of use. However, the small antenna inside the card may be damaged if subjected to inappropriate use. You may check the card at an Add Value Machine or on board a bus to see if it functions properly.

 

17.  Will the TransLink card demagnetize my credit cards?
Your smart card contains no magnetic material and therefore cannot demagnitze or be demagnetized by your credit cards.


 
 

 

HOW DO I USE TRANSLINK

18.  Now that I have my card, how do I use it?
Golden Gate Transit
There is card reader located where you board the bus. Simply “tag” your card upon entering the bus by placing your card flat against the TransLink logo on the card reader. You will hear an audible beep and see a colored light. A “green” light means a valid fare. A “yellow” light means a valid fare but you are getting low on funds. A “red” light means an invalid fare -- you will need to pay your fare by some other means.

At the conclusion of your trip, you need to “tag” your card to the card reader again before getting off the bus and hold for beep. The system will then calculate and deduct the appropriate discount fare from your card. If you do not “tag off,” you will be assessed the highest fare from your point of origin (between $4.68 and $7.40).

Golden Gate Ferry
A TransLink device is installed near all ferry terminal fare gates. Simply “tag” your card upon entering in San Francisco or Larkspur by placing your card flat against the TransLink logo on the card reader. The appropriate discounted ferry fare will be deducted from your card. You will hear an audible beep and see a colored light. A “green” light means a valid fare. A “yellow” light means a valid fare but you are getting low on funds. A “red” light means an invalid fare -- you will need to pay your fare by some other means.

 

19.  I accidentally tagged my card twice. Was I charged twice?
No. The anti-passback feature on the TransLink card prevents two fares from being taken accidentally. The TransLink card cannot be read twice on the same bus within 1 minute or at a ferry terminal within a 20-minute period.

 

20.  Can I pay for myself and someone else using my TransLink card?
No. You cannot pay for your fare and then give it to someone else who is riding with you to pay their fare. The anti-passback feature prevents the card from being used on the same bus within a 1-minute period.

 

21.  If I get on the wrong bus and tag my card can the bus driver “un-tag” me?
No. Once the card has been tagged at the Card Reader, the bus operator cannot un-tag you. You should ask the bus operator for a courtesy transfer.

 

22.  Can other people see how much money I have on my card when I tag on?
The remaining balance on your card is visible for a few seconds when you are tagging on. If someone is standing directly behind you, it is possible that they can get a glimpse of your balance.


TRANSFER INFORMATION

Note: Customers must have a balance on their card, even when transferring. A minimum e-cash balance is necessary to register a valid tag. If you have a negative balance on your card, you will be unable to make a transfer.

23.  How do I transfer between Golden Gate Transit and AC Transit or Muni?
If you are transferring between Golden Gate Transit and AC Transit, your TransLink card will handle the transfer electronically and automatically deduct the correct discounted fare. For lift or ramp users, please be advised that AC Transit currently has TransLink card readers installed only at the front door.

Muni is currently testing the TransLink system on its bus, light-rail and cable car systems. GGT customers transferring to Muni may use their TransLink card for continuing travel.

 

24.  How do I transfer between Golden Gate Transit/Ferry and other transit operators?
Golden Gate Transit or Ferry and AC Transit have TransLink fully launched on their systems. Muni is currently testing the system on its bus, light-rail and cable car systems. BART or Caltrain are currently scheduled to launch the TransLink product in Winter 2009.

While Muni tests the TransLink system on its bus, light-rail and cable car systems, GGT customers transferring to Muni can use their TransLink card for continuing travel.

 

25.  How do transfers work with TransLink?
The TransLink card keeps track of prior rides and automatically provides your correct transfer discount, where appropriate.

 

26.  How can I tell if my transfer has expired?
A transfer is good for 3 hours from the time you tag your card on the first bus. TransLink keeps track of your rides. If you tag your second bus within the appropriate timeframe, you will be granted your transfer. If you tag after that period, an additional fare will be deducted from your card. Unlike the current paper transfer which has an expiration time printed on it, you will have to keep track of your transfer time period.

 

27.  What do I do if TransLink charges me a full fare instead of granting me a transfer?
A transfer is good for 3 hours from the time you tag your card on the first bus. The card reader will automatically calculate whether you are within that timeframe. If you are charged a full fare, check your recent usage history which will include your boarding times. You can call the TransLink Customer Service Center at 1-877-878-8883 to find out your last 10 transactions.

 

28.  I’m transferring to AC Transit. Will they recognize my fare and give me my discount?
TransLink is a smart card. If you are eligible for a discounted fare when transferring to another transit agency using TransLink, the appropriate discounted fare will automatically be deducted when you tag your card.


TransLink Card