EZ Rider a breeze for BART commuters

A little-publicized pilot program by BART that provides a permanent card that riders can add money to electronically has signed up an estimated 22,000 passengers in its first 16 months.

Launched in October 2006, the EZ Rider pass is electronically scanned by sensors at all BART gates, and is available for any commuter willing to make $45 payments — for which they’ll receive $48 in value — that are automatically culled from a credit card. Anytime the value of an EZ Rider card dips below $10, the card is refilled with a $45 payment.

Neil Tanner, a Richmond resident who uses BART about once a week, has been an EZ Rider ticket holder since the pilot program began. He said the program had a few glitches when it first began, such as sensor disks not reading his card, but since then he’s had no complaints.

“Never having to wait in line to buy a ticket is a pretty nice feeling,” Tanner said. “Plus, because the card recharges automatically, I never have to worry about how much money is on there. I always know I’ll have enough for my fare.”

For frequent BART commuters, the card works similar to the TransLink pass, a regional transportation card that is being rolled out to act as a one-stop currency at all Bay Area transit agencies. Currently, the TransLink pass is accepted only for the Golden Gate Bridge Transit and the AC Transit system.

Although information on signing up for the EZ Rider pilot project is available only online, more than 5 percent of BART’s 360,000 daily riders use its services, according to BART spokesman Linton Johnson.

“From the feedback we’ve received, people swear by it,” Johnson said. “They love that they don’t have to worry about small change, or standing in line at the ticketing machine, or having their card demagnetized.”

As a planned precursor to the TransLink pass, BART officials have maintained a low-key approach to promoting the EZ Rider. Johnson stressed that BART remains committed to adopting the TransLink pass once the regional card goes into effect — tentatively scheduled for this May.

wreisman@examiner.com

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