Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Every Monday at 2pm on Claycord.com.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Greetings, all! This Claycord.com column is for everyone who negotiates the highways and public transit of the Bay Area. It runs every Monday at 2pm and answers your commuting and transportation questions.
Email your questions to email@example.com.
COMMUTER: So when is that ding-dong-dang fourth tunnel gonna open for business?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: As I’m sure you all know already, our pal RunnerDope is referring to the fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel. Our pals at Caltrans are playing it close to the vest on this one, RunnerDope. The website dedicated to the tunnel, http://www.caldecott-tunnel.org, says, “The tunnel is on schedule to open to traffic in late 2013.”
The Jammer consulted Ivy Morrison, Caldecott Tunnel Goddess and Knower of All Things Vis-à-vis the Fourth Bore, but Morrison could not say which month the tunnel would open. “We want to get through the systems installation and some of the battery of tests,” Morrison said.
You might ask, what system is that? Even as we speak, fire and life safety systems are being installed and tested in the new bore. Workers will be able to monitor the tunnel for things like the horrible fire that broke out in a tunnel in the 1980s using these systems.
“Basically, we are testing each element of the systems individually and then jointly, culminating with a series of fire drills with specially trained tunnel operators and first responders (fire, enforcement, CHP). With the successful completion of these final drills, the tunnel will be commissioned by the State Fire Marshal,” Morrison said.
COMMUTER: Is it legal to practice riding a motorcycle at the Department of Motor Vehicles?
TRAFFIC JAMMER: This question came up last week when Puzzled in Walnut Creek asked why several California Highway Patrol officers were riding their bikes in circles at the Department of Motor Vehicles in the area where several circles appear on the asphalt. The Jammer contacted the DMV and this is the answer she was given:
“It is not illegal for motorcycles. The skill test for motorcycles is only performed on the street surrounding the field office while the examiner observes. The motorcycle drive test is conducted on the field office parking lot in a designated area (known as the “lollipop”) for motorcycles only. We ask the public that they do not practice during working hours since the designated areas vary from office to office and we do not want our staff or motorcycle test to be delayed due to someone practicing.”
COMMUTER: To get (BART) tickets combined the total must be a multiple of $5 and can only give back paper tickets. The guy in the booth has no actual money to give for change. There is a way to mail in the tickets but there is a charge and I know several people who sent them in and got nothing. BART claimed they never received them. Yet another BART ripoff.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: Here is a detail response from a BART customer service representative. Please feel free to post follow-up questions and the Jammer will send them along to BART:
First, as for exchanging a compilation of low fare tickets into one higher value, Customer Service Representative Michael Moran explains that $5 is a minimum denomination that offers “utility.”
“It doesn’t do much good to refund a $1 ticket when the minimum one-way fare is $1.75,” he said.
BART’s exchange/consolidation locations have no ability to encode values (manufacture) onto tickets. Therefore, tickets offered for consolidation must each be less than $5 remaining ride value, which is the amount considered slightly higher than average ride. They can be of higher value if damaged (inoperative) and stamped “invalid” by a station agent.
We ask customers to exchange tickets in $5 increments because BART’s exchange sites use a consigned inventory of previously encoded ticket stock in denominations of $5, $10, $15, and $20. Any total that falls within an increment of $5 will require a cash difference be paid to reach that next level.
As for those readers who said they mailed in tickets and going nothing in return, perhaps they were seeking refunds. The refund program can accept any and all BART tickets of any values. BART refunds with a check for all tickets bought with cash, check or debit card (or return funds to the account of the transaction’s credit card) for tickets received but they do not send new tickets.
If his friends are looking for a refund, our Customer Service staff states the best option would be to do that at any station in person and request the Station Agent to complete a refund claim form, instead of doing it by mail.
If it’s done at a station, a rider submits his/her tickets, waits for the Station Agent to complete the form, signs the form and receives a copy before leaving. “This is the most secure method as there has been no break in the chain of ticket custody between the customer and District, and the customer has that copy as their receipt that we’ve received item(s) of value for refunding,” said Moran.
Moran acknowledges that there are situations where one cannot get to a station (visitors out of the region having returned home, etc) and only by mailing their tickets can they hope for a refund though with no guarantee of receipt by BART. The only problem here is that chain of custody has been broken. Tickets mailed are now in the hands of the US Postal Service and unless they are received by BART, there is nothing for BART to refund.
TRAFFIC JAMMER: That’s it for this week – see you next Monday. Be sure to cruise by Claycord.com at 2pm for more traffic intelligence. Remember, whether you drive, walk, bike or hop Amtrak, BART or AC Transit, Traffic Jammer Janis Mara is here to answer your questions.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org