Q I think it might be interesting to hear from readers who have received dumb tickets. These aren't tickets where the someone did something dumb, but where it was dumb to issue a ticket.

Tom Farrell

Santa Clara

A Tom has a few in mind, but first, here are a couple of tickets that some would say fall in the dumb or at least harsh category.

Q I was commuting from Mountain View to San Francisco and had used Caltrain once or twice. While riding before, I noticed round, blue Clipper signs on the inner wall next to the doors, similar to Muni buses in San Francisco, where one clips on.

It was my first week commuting to the city, so I loaded money on my Clipper card to be used on Caltrain. I rushed to catch the train, stepped in the car, the doors closed, and I looked for the Clipper scanner, but there was none in my car.

I immediately went to a Caltrain attendant and asked where to scan my card, and he said that they were not located on the train, only at each station. I asked if I could get off at the next stop to do so since I had pre-loaded money on my Clipper card.

He instead said that he had to issue me a ticket. Even the woman next to me asked the attendant if he could let me just step off at the next stop. I thought this was unfair. I had gone to the attendant to ask for help since I had not done this before. The signs are not well marked and it is unclear where to pay.


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Shestin S.

San Francisco

A Get this. Her ticket was a whopping $276. But Christine-the-Caltrain-Representative wasn't sympathetic, saying:

"There are signs in our stations, on ticket vending machines and on trains that clearly state that all riders need valid fare before boarding. There also is information on our website and in printed timetables and brochures. Unfortunately, some customers still try to beat the system by using invalid tickets or forgetting to tag their Clipper cards, whether on accident or on purpose.

"It is always recommended that new riders on any transit system take time to learn how to use the system before riding. Unfortunately, your reader learned the hard way that the high fine for not having a valid ticket is a serious deterrent, as it is meant to be."

Q Coming from SFO, I took BART to Caltrain to VTA to get to work in Sunnyvale. I got on light rail at Mountain View and didn't flash my Clipper card before getting on. Apparently, there are signs (I've never noticed them) that say you need to do so before you get on, which makes sense. I sometimes clip before getting on, I sometimes clip when I get off, and I sometimes forget.

Of course, two VTA workers came on board and checked tickets. I explained my situation (I rarely take VTA, usually carpool, just came from SFO, etc.) and was told that I had to clip on.

I talked to the other guy about it, and he said he wouldn't have given me a ticket, but whatever. I received a ticket for $281 for not paying the VTA fare, which, I think, is pretty exorbitant for a $2 fare.

Joe S.

San Francisco

A It is, but again no mercy. The Valley Transportation Authority pointed out that there are several signs at its stations reminding riders to tag their Clipper card before boarding. Now back to Tom.

Q Two dumb tickets I can recall from previous Roadshow columns are the now-legendary carpool cheater who got a ticket for driving in the carpool lane on Christmas, plus the bicyclist in Livermore who was cited for a blinking front light. My own personal "dumb" ticket story is when I was nabbed for going 70 mph on I-280 two weeks before the speed limit was raised from 55 to 65 in the mid-'90s. I don't think that's as dumb as the Christmas carpool cheater or the bicyclist.

Tom Farrell

A I agree with that. Anyone else with tales about what you consider "dumb" tickets? Send 'em my way.

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