Reports have it that Muni plans on replacing our beloved paper FastPasses with the TransLink Card sometime later this year. Unless you're some kind of shut in, you have already seen the green and gray TransLink card readers all over your regular bus lines and Muni metro/BART stations as they have been testing the system for over a year now. So, what is this mysterious TransLink Card? It's a stored value card with a smart chip embedded on the surface that can be used to pay fares on AC Transit, BART, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit & Ferry, and most (but not all) Muni lines. The card vaguely reminds this writer of phone cards we used to use back in the early '90s when we lived in Europe. Cutting edge technology!

Anyway, curious about how this TransLink Card worked, and feeling the need to seize control of our transportation destiny in the face of yet another wrath-inducing increase in the cost of the FastPass, we switched over to the TransLink Card at the beginning of January. After nearly six weeks of use, this is what we have found:

The Good

It's Convenient! Probably the best feature of the TransLink Card is the convenience factor. You want to get on the bus, you swipe the card. You want to ride BART, you swipe the card. You never even have to take the card out of your wallet. Just swipe, swipe, swipe. A real snap for the big city go-getter getting ready to go.

It's Flexible! Do you live in the city and only occasionally partake of service from any of the other of our region's fine transit agencies? Well then, you can buy a poor person's FastPass, load it onto your TransLink card, and throw on however many extra American dollars you might think you'll need to ride a bus around Oakland or take BART to SFO. Now you, the consumer, can maximize your transit riding value. Power!