Reader Mail: A Little Help Regarding Bay To Breakers, Please?

Reader Anonymous sent in this note the other day expressing confusion regarding the various transit options as presented by Zazzle and the SFMTA. I took a look at the web pages in question myself and this seems like a case of a lot of options being presented in such a way that to the average reader, they come off as confusing, but that’s because I speak “bureaucrat” as a second language. In terms of presenting data to humans, it’s not as clear as it could be.
First, Reader Anonymous’s letter:

Muni is kinda dropping the ball on how to get from the sunset to the starting line.
Was reading and now totally confused. 10$ no matter what from inner sunset?
Do I buy in advance? Can I use my Clipper? Can I get off at Powell?
Each site says something different.
Then no twitter mention of it at all on sfmta or anything. And nothing on mfnta or 511 homepages.
and then this was forwarded to me…
how that site was found, I do not know. I could not find it starting on their homepage.
and then this info…
So ten bucks if I hop on at 9th and irving? Do I need to get a sticker before? Can I buy on muni? I guess can’t use clipper card?
last year..
Muni just bumming me out right now.
and on top of that, parking for registered runners is $10 downtown. Not really motivation to take public transit.
See you at B2B

I took a look since I hadn’t been paying a lot of attention to Bay To Breakers, aside from just knowing that Sunday’s going to be crazy no matter what and I could see where people would get confused. What jumped out at me, however is that it appears to read that if you want to ride the special express buses, you can’t use a Clipper card to pay for the service, you have to pay $10 for what amounts to an all day pass good until 5pm on Sunday. Fine, but then I read WHERE to buy these and this is what I came up with via the SFMTA site:

Pre-Race sales locations, 5 to 8 a.m.
Van Ness Station.
Castro Station.
West Portal Station.
Post-Race sales locations, 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Fulton @ 30th Avenue.

It would seem to me if these “special event stickers” are a Golden Ticket to Muni fun pre- or post- race, they’d be sold in a few more locations. Put another way, how would an out-of-towner know where to go to buy one of these things? Why can’t they just tell people to use their Clipper Card? People can already get a “temp” Clipper Card at BART stations, it would seem that would have been the best way to go, but then again I’m not paid a six figure salary to figure these things out.
I haven’t done Bay to Breakers in literally decades, mostly because I don’t like crowds that have the potential to become a riot or a zombie apocalypse (but the race is cool and I do like to watch it on TV to see drunk people in costume). But it would seem that when presenting the public with options, spending a little more time putting some thought into presenting that data online would make it easier for people to understand their options.
Best advice I can give is this: Whatever mode you choose (Muni, Bauer, etc) for all that is good in the world DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRIVE AND PARK AT THE START OR FINISH LINES. Just don’t. Not because of “the environment” but because you’ll be dooming yourself to a world of pain no one should have to endure.

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3 Responses to Reader Mail: A Little Help Regarding Bay To Breakers, Please?

  1. @makfan says:

    I think they expect you to buy your sticker at the Expo when you pick up your packet (I think you were able to pre-order the sticker, in fact).
    The reason there are so few places to buy the sticker is that the pre-event service is pretty limited. Not all Metro stations are open before 8 am. They probably also don’t want to reprogram the clipper readers on the vehicles that are providing special service.
    I signed up but am going to be away and miss the event. Oh well.

  2. anonymouse says:

    As far as Clipper goes, I think it’s more hassle for Muni to deal with the MTC and their contractors to get the Clipper cards and figure everything out, plus reprogram Clipper readers for the $10 fare. I’m not even sure if Muni or the MTC actually controls what the Clipper readers charge. The system in general is a giant mess.

  3. JayS says:

    What happens when locals who are not participating in the event try to use these buses? Do we get charged the $10 fare or is there going to be regular service running in addition to the event service? How do we differentiate the event and non-event service?

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