By Bay City News Service
TransLink "smart cards" are now available for use by the public to pay fares on Caltrain, an agency spokeswoman said Friday.
TransLink card readers have been at Caltrain platforms for several months, but the agency waited to do testing to ensure any problems with the readers were resolved before announcing that the service would be available to the general public, spokeswoman Tasha Bartholomew said.
The cards can also be used on BART, AC Transit, Dumbarton Express, Golden Gate Transit and Ferry, and all San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency vehicles except cable cars.
Customers touch their cards to a reader at the train station they are departing from, and tag another reader when they arrive at their destination.
Caltrain is gradually eliminating paper passes as part of the transition to TransLink. All paper monthly passes and eight-ride tickets will be eliminated by January 2011, according to Bartholomew.
TransLink cards can be purchased from many retailers, including most Walgreen stores. The cards can also be purchased at the two Caltrain ticket offices in San Francisco and San Jose, as well as at the agency's administrative offices at 1250 San Carlos Ave. in San Carlos.
The cards cost $5, but are free if you sign up for the Autoload feature when ordering the card through the TransLink website, www.translink.org.
For more information about TransLink, visit www.translink.org or call (877) 878-8883.