Draft letter to Caltrain office

I break the law by accident. This is a big deal for me. I definitely wrong in this case, but I also found there is some issue on Caltrain system. So instead of being down forever, I will write a letter to Caltrain office. My friend tell me this is like burn a letter to immortal, no one will read or reply. But I trust in goodwill, so i will open this letter on my blog. If you read this by accident, please learn that break the law is painful, you should train yourself not making stupid mistake, this will make everyone happy, and make a better world. This letter is just a first cut draft, I will correct grammer mistake and improve weired sentence accordinly in those days.

Hello caltrain officers,

I’m a caltrain commuter live in Hillsdale, I start using caltrain from last December, and I like it. Caltrain has cleaner cabin than BART and muni, and the passenger on it is more polite. My company sponsor us commute by Caltrain through clipper direct, and most of my coworkers has Caltrian monthly pass auto loaded.

But I got a citation recently, which make me . The story happends that on Jun 3rd, it’s a Monday, the first working day of Jun. I and my coworker was discussing a working topic of our current project, and we take on Caltrain together from Hillsdale. Then 2 conductors came to us, and check our ticket. We show our clipper card as usual, but it says no. And we notice that’s first working day of a Month, so we should tag on the clipper card. And explained this to the conductors individually, they just gave both of us a citation of fare envation. I haven’t argue, because I’m a adult. The conductor refuse to read our monthy pass online order (which we showed), that means we don’t have nothing to show as prove of payment.

I said this almost ruin my life, it’s because I break the law, which make me desperate. I’m a alien worker, so I’m new here, I tried to behave as a moral citizen, be nice to everyone, and be well discipline. But when I got this citation, this dream collapse.

But I don’t want to be depressed forever, I should tell you my feeling, and let’s figure out what’s the best way to prevent this kind of situation happend in the future. Which will make the world a better place.

The monthly pass is not a way to save money, I think the ultimate goal is to make our daily commute smoothier. Because buying ticket is a pain at rushing hour, so clipper is a express way. Paying monthly save most of us tons of time. I cherrish the intention. But comes to reality, there is a gap. Other commute system like BART and MUNI has clipper gate, so when you come across it you need to swipe the card. But caltrain only has that at SF’s 4th and king station, there’s conductor standing there to check our ticket. But other stations is open, and some station only has few clipper tagging machine. So most monthly pass commuter doesn’t tag at most of days in a month, only tag it at very first day. So the gap is the habit we use the public transportation, for Caltrain we didn’t tag daily, but for MUNI and BART we tag daily even we have montly pass. That means we need to remind ourself to tag on first day, which is not work precisly as a clock.

So I hope caltrain can give us a notification on those critical day (very first working day each month). The clipper has our email, most caltrain station has message board (LED screen), both of them can work as a reminder for us. Which will help us not making this mistake. For a system need good self-discipline a reminder will reduce stupidity very much.

The clipper direct allow us setting up a recurring order of monthly pass, I don’t know why it can’t pre-load them as those montly pass we bought from walgreen? If it load automatically, we won’t make a mistake like that, this will free us from having a pressure on loading monthly pass. In our case, we acctually paid for monthly pass. But the ticket checking machine failed to load the monthly pass information, which make us be in a situation of no valid ticket, and that’s breaking the law. Break law in this way is miserable, we don’t want to be a fare invader, that’s immoral, that’s make us hateful, and it’s shame to tell our children that we are fare invader. I mean when we paid, but failed to show that we paid, because we need a process to activate this monthly pass, this is inconvinient and seems trapping us to be a outlaw. Probably there are technical reasons or other reasons to make clipper work in this way, but please make it more friendly and make good people keep being good.

Because we commute on caltrain for months, we saw lots of scenario between passenger and conductors. And almost all conductors is friendly and helpful. I saw conductor explains to those foreigners who bought wrong tickets, and ask the buy it correctly next time. I saw conductor asking people using clipper card who forgot tag on to tag it at next stop. I heared from my coworker who got educated when they forgot to tag it on first day of month. All those stories told me that conductors are helping us from making mistake, and educate us when we are wrong. But when this happend on me for the first time, I got a citation directly. I’m not asking mercy on me, everyone is equal by law, I just diserve this punishment. But consider a goodwill, we should using the punishment to prevent intentional fare envision, but educate the others. This will keep us in faith of justice. I still trust all conductors on the train is helping us from making this mistake. But on the day I got this citation, I saw 2 conductors chekcing ticket, and that’s the first working day of that month, there are 3 guys got citation in same cabin, this seems more to a punishment than education.

I won’t argu if I’m guilty here, I suppose to talk about it with judge in court. I only want to ask for some change on this system to ease our commute, make our life easier, hope no one will break the law in this way. Would like to consider those actions?

  • Give us the choice to pre-load the monthly pass
  • Give us a notifications by email (for clipper direct user), or show us notifications on station’s display on first (work) day of month
  • Give us a covinient way to tag the card, especially a way to tag on the train, alternatively should give us tagging machine on each entrance of station. So tagging daily is smooth for monthly pass commuter.
  • Give us a channel to show monthly pass proof if we got cited in this situation, when we paid for the pass.

Thank you for read, I won’t be despress forever, I trust that caltrain will be better, and we will be more happy to commute on this transportation system.

Jun 9, 2013.