Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Card Game," The Perils of Public Transportation

It was no game of Solitaire, certainly not Free Cell or my favorite computer card game Spider Solitaire. We're not taking about those sorts of cards. The card that had me running all over the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.

The RavKav looks like such a cheery fun card in this picture. But today, it caused me much stress and aggravation. Early in the day it was fine. When I took the train and buses it worked, but I knew that there were few rides left within Jerusalem and none between Jerusalem (or Sha'ar Binyamin)-Shiloh. So I needed to fill it. I like to fill the Jerusalem trips in the City-Pass office in Binyan Clal and the Shiloh trips in the bus station. (That's a subject for another post.)

from a different day, but
there are always lines
My friend convinced me to try the machines by the train and promised to help. I had a bad experience trying to pay that way once, which is why I don't use them. We succeeded in putting 20 trips into the card. After that I took my nephew to lunch, introduced him to kubbehs- a north-African delicacy, did some shopping in Machane Yehuda and then walked to the bus station.

At the bus station I purposely chose a clerk who didn't look familiar because I've had too many bad experiences with some nasty ones. I told her what I wanted, paid and then... a red light kept going on when she tried to put the "trips" into the card, instead of the green light.
"Sorry, but something is wrong with your card."
"How could that be. I just put in 20 rides for inside Jerusalem."
"Yes, but now I can't work it. You need to go to the "Superbus" office near #1. Don't worry, he'll take care of it, and then you don't have to wait on line."
So I went to that office, opened the door and saw some guy behind a desk eating.
"Lady, I'm on a break. Come back at 2pm."  
It was then  1:30.
"But I'll miss my bus."
"So, what? It's my break. Can't you see?"
"You can go to hell," I replied. That's not what I'd normally say, but I always put down my fork/food when a customer needs me at work.
Then I ran back to the clerk, pushed my way to the front and told her that he was eating and wouldn't see me. She quickly made a phone call.
"Go to Reuven by #22. He's expecting you and will help."
Well, I pushed my way and the guy guarding the door listened, called to Reuven who said I should go to a different clerk. She tested my card and said it was fine. When I explained the problem, she said to go to Eyal at #17.  So I went there, and they said that he had gone home. Yes, I went back to the clerk. She couldn't understand why Reuven didn't help me. Luckily someone who seemed to be the supervisor was there. He heard the story and then took me back to Reuven who made me smile into the camera for a new card.

Then I took the new card back to the clerk who transferred the Shiloh-Jerusalem rides I had just bought to it, but she couldn't transfer the internal Jerusalem rides. Hopefully, that card will still work in Jerusalem, if not I have to go to the City-Pass office.

By 2pm I was waiting for the bus home, which came a couple of minutes later. But the story isn't over. I put the card on the bus's "card reader," and red-light went on. I almost had a nervous breakdown. There was no time to run back to the clerk. The driver told me to wait, when he heard that I had just loaded it. I took a front seat and waited. After we started the trip home to Shiloh, we tried the card again, and it did work, B"H.


Anonymous said...

The Rav Kav was never designed for user convenience in my opinion, it is designed to hold the users hostage or pay a hefty price for not having one in the way of not being able to transfer busses within a certain time frame like before. Good for you for putting your foot down until you got the help you needed!

David Alan Fairman said...

Can RAV Elhanan help with a RAV card?Or perhaps the new RAV of Jerusalem, RAV Amar?
By the way, the rides put on the card on bus 75 at Pisgat Zeev was not usable on other egged buses but was usable on the light rail!

Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod said...

Sounds like the same story as mine.
I have only ever had trouble with my RavKav in Yerushalayim. Specifically, I loaded 10 fares at a light-rail stop and they NEVER worked, anywhere. I had to buy 10 more so I could travel without being fined.
Three failed attempts at visiting the City-Pass office later (it was around the time that they phased out paper tickets, so naturally, the place was swamped)... I decided to forget about it. I, too had to leave the lineup a couple of times or miss an intercity bus. And I couldn't fix it up here in Haifa.
And then, just yesterday, the lost fares mysteriously "kicked in." I was SURE my RavKav was "empty" the last time I left Ym, and figured I'd have to buy more.
But when I handed it to the bus driver, cash at the ready to load it up again, he said "malei" and subtracted one of the 10 fares that had mysteriously reappeared.

I think the RavKav is great if you take one route, in one area, regularly.

However, the biggest problem with my RavKav so far, is that it can only hold so many fares.

On my card, I have separate fares loaded from Haifa, Krayot, Haifa PLUS Krayot combined fares, Ym, Tel Aviv, Rakevet Yisrael, Herzliya, and maybe half of a haloch v'shov to Ym. These are all fares that I use regularly, not just a one-time thing.

So last night, when I wanted to buy a haloch v'shov from TA to Ym, I couldn't because the card was FULL. I paid almost 10nis extra because my card was full.

There's also no graceful way to see all my balances at once. I can print out a statement up here, but everything's sorted by codes and it shows the # of trips left for each without telling you what route or area it's for (4 of mine are Dan b'Tzafon, and they're impossible to differentiate).

With the proliferation of different bus companies, esp. in the north, they're going to have to accommodate more fares, more gracefully. Or more travellers are going to find themselves mightily inconvenienced.

Oy, just realized I may have written more than your original post. Sorry for the rant! Guess you touched a nerve... :-)

Anonymous said...

The man at the bank didn't owe you his service just because you thought that he should put down his food and serve you. He was on his break, which I presume he is legally entitled to, and though he could have been nicer and helped you, you were not ENTITLED to his service. You were extremely rude, and had I been the employee there, I would have told my manager that I was being verbally assaulted at work and attempted to have you removed. What a disgusting attitude- just because you put your fork down at your clothing store because you simply feel like doing so (and I am sure that you're entitled to take a break, by legislation), that doesn't mean that other people have to do so. Give me a break- learn some manners and stop being so obnoxiously pushy.

Batya said...

a 8:34 AM, thanks, that's for sure. The guy didn't care at all. I was grateful for having a nice clerk helping me out. I've had bad experiences with those clerks. But that's another story.
a 3:33 AM, not the bank. I work at a very low paying job, and I always put down my food to help a customer. To totally close an office for over a half an hour, when there is no substitute is not right.
david, ravdavid, oy,
Tzivia, actually you can have more than one card, I think. It would probably help you. Wear different hats in your photo to help you remember which is which. That's the lesson from this card game.

Miriam-Feyga Bunimovich said...

OMG I understand you so much. Routines at institutions, with clerks are super annoying. I often found myself helpless and ready to burst into tears, even if nobody offended me on purpose. Just because of lots of time and nerves spent disproportionally to the result.
I wonder how you said 'You can go to hell' in Hebrew.

LondonMale said...

This card sounds ridiculous!
In London one has what they call an "Oyster Card".
It works on the train, bus and tram.
They can go wrong, but basically they work much more often than not.
You can load it by hand with a clerk, or at a machine using cash or credit card/debit card, or by manual online payment, or even have a system where it tops up automatically by direct debit from one's bank account if it falls below a certain amount of credit stored.
Maybe the rail and bus authorities in Israel should look into using the Oyster card instead?

Batya said...

Miriam, it's the only curse I allow myself.

LM, it worked fine, I think, until then, and now it keep claiming to be emptier than it should be.