Agencies Can't Agree on Caltrain TransLink Launch Date

Caltrain: Electronic transit card only being tested

The official Facebook page for TransLink, the Bay Area transit smartcard system operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, reported Monday: “Caltrain will begin accepting TransLink starting August 17th!”
It's good news for transit riders tired of paying separate fares for the region's patchwork of transit systems. One small problem – Caltrain says that isn’t true. And TransLink has yanked the posting from its Facebook page.
Spokesperson Christine Dunn told NBC Bay Area News Monday that TransLink will only be available for 400 preselected riders on August 17. Everybody else will have to wait. Sort of.
TransLink representative Lysa Hale says the August 17 date was announced in a managing group meeting Monday. She says the service should work for all TransLink users August 17, but until then, if you try to use it you might receive a citation for riding without a ticket.
"We just want to be clear: Anyone with a TransLink card can use it on Caltrain," says Dunn. "We've got 400 riders we've given TransLink cards to and asked them to report to us what their experience is. If you've got a card, you can use it."

Asked why TransLink and Caltrain sent mixed signals, Dunn explained, "We didn't want to publicize it because it's just a soft launch. We just don't want to pull out all the stops and have the bands and the helium balloons."

TransLink will support monthly passes on the 17th, according to Dunn, and is working with TransLink to support the train system's 8-ride discount tickets. Caltrain has already been testing the service with employees of the agency. The August 17 date is just the next step of testing.

 TransLink was supposed to roll out early this summer on Caltrain, but Dunn says for now Caltrain has no specific timeline for launching the service, as “further testing” is necessary.
Hale says that BART, Muni and Caltrain aren’t likely to exit the TransLink testing phase until the spring of 2010.
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