Sunday, February 4, 2018

Bus Pass!

Yesterday, five year old No. 2 had what has become a right of passage in our family.  He got his first Clipper Card with his San Francisco MUNI pass.  When now seven year-old No. 1 got her Clipper card and could boop onto buses and trains, she instantly became the envy of her two younger sibs.  2 asked for a Clipper card non-stop, and it wasn’t long before 3 also got into the game.  We compromised by getting 2 and 3 their backpack Clipper card holders early.  3 delights in holding her holder up when we get in the bus and saying, “Boop.”

So, it was with great glee that 2 legitimately booped his way onto his first bus Thursday evening.  We had a bit of a hiccup at the BART station heading out.  (2 got stuck in the clamp-like jaws of the BART gate once when 2 year-old No. 3 went in front of him.  Since then, he and 3 have gained access to BART stations through the emergency gates.)  2 booped his card on the BART gate well enough.  It opened, but then he froze, staring at the clamps he was convinced were going to get him.  Eventually, they closed again of their own accord and 2 crawled under instead.  On the way back though, 2 took the plunge, taking a deep breath he raced through the gate.  His grin was huge as he emerged triumphant on the other side!

Public transit and walking are our our only two means of transportation here in San Francisco, and the surrounding area.  If you don’t take public transit in the Bay Area, and especially in San Francisco proper, there are a lot of reasons to consider it.  

First, it can be incredibly convenient once you get used to it.  Admittedly, we live at the nexus of three bus routes that make their ways to three different BART stations, so it’s perhaps especially convenient for us.  But hear me out, there’s no more worrying about having the insurance cards in the glove box, or about having the car properly maintained.  It sounds a bit dire, but basically you can move about without the concern of running into our local constabulary.

You get to spend time hanging out together with your family.  We have the vast majority of our deep family conversations on public transit.  We don’t have to ‘focus on the road’ which frees us up to just relax and enjoy each other.

There are no car seats required on public transit!  That’s right, you can just hop in with the kids and go!  The single remotely connected exception I’ve seen to this is that you have to sit inside the cable car, not stand, but sit, if you’re babywearing.

Speaking of cable car rides, they’re free with all MUNI passes!  We took the cable car three times last week which would have cost $21 almost paying for 1’s $38 dollar/month MUNI pass.

Which brings us to the cost of kid passes and how to get them.  Nominally they’re $38/month.  There is a discount program based on median income though.  The pass gets kids onto everything MUNI for free.  BART rides are discounted at 50%, (there’s not a kids’ equivalent of the adult monthly MUNI/BART pass for some reason).  We’ve also noticed that the kids’ Clipper cards get discounts on the Oakland bus system as well as the Golden Gate ferries.  To get your monthly kid’s pass, you have to take a birth certificate, (but interestingly not the actual kid), to a Clipper card office.  We use the one in Embarcadero BART/MUNI station.


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