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January 13, 2004 03:17 AM

Broken: BART ticket vending

Carl Myhill writes:

I have rarely seen quite such a display of baffling and inconsistent user interfaces - all intended to 'help' you buy a ticket for the BART train in San Francisco.


A good portion of the BART machines are usually broken anyway.

Posted by: Alex at January 13, 2004 12:30 PM

I'm a fan of the Washington DC Metro system, which is quite logically designed and organized... but its ticket machines are, ironically enough, just as baffling.

Posted by: codeman38 at January 14, 2004 01:11 PM

BART is actually replacing a lot of machines with touch screen systems (at least in downtown SF). I haven't actually used one yet, but I imagine they're a lot more straightforward.

Posted by: Ben at January 16, 2004 02:01 PM

I've been doing research on transportation ticket vending machines around the world. Please kindly send clear digital photos and your assessment of your professional experience with these machines for a presentation I'm preparing. You will be fully credited.


Aten Imago

Posted by: Aten Imago at January 19, 2004 05:46 PM

the BART machines are easy to use and logical.

what's *broken* is that to use SF MUNI, you have to use 1.25 in all coins, and the only way to get change for a dollar down there is to use the BART machines.

not only that, you have to hit button H first.

but that's not broken, either. just bad. i like the new BART machines a lot (since last summer?)

Posted by: peter at January 30, 2004 12:33 PM

sorry. now that i look closer, those are the old machines. not as helpful.

i haven't seen them in a looong time, however. when was this shot taken? where? must be Baypoint or something waay out there. all the machines in SF and Oakland are the new ones.

Posted by: peter at January 30, 2004 12:35 PM

Trying to get somewhere? SF laughs at you.

Posted by: john at February 29, 2004 06:33 AM

There's a book about UI design which includes

a case study of the BART ticket machines.

Quite amusing, but the title escapes me...

It might have even been by Jef Raskin,

because he has a little analysis on his

web site:


Posted by: Steve at March 31, 2004 01:45 AM

And even worse are the almost-identical Translink machines right next to the BART machines. I've inserted my money a number of times, thinking I was buying a BART ticket, only to see a tiny label indicating--"This machine does not dispense BART tickets" or something of the sort.

Posted by: L. Fath at May 18, 2004 12:38 PM

That could be a problem.

Posted by: Sido at September 6, 2005 08:36 PM

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