The MUNI Fare Box is Not a Vending Machine

Perhaps this post is a bit more fitting for the Muni Diaries, but nevertheless it has occurred to me that people who ride the MUNI in San Francisco don’t know the possibilites for  how dollar bills can be inserted into the fare box.

With the recent fare hike back in July, the cost of riding a bus/light rail in San Francisco has gone up to $2. Now you either a] use a pre-paid bus pass, b] have eight quarters ready, c] contain a fist full of dimes, nickels and quarters adding up to $2, or d] have two $1 dollar bills.

In most cases (at least the situations I’ve seen) people get on the bus with two of the crumpliest, torn, overwashed $1 bills in their pockets. These people then proceed to carefully “iron” out their bills of all wrinkles so that the fare box will eat up their dollars with ease. However, it seems that no matter how long you rub the dollar across your leg or bus hand rail to flatten it out, you will be met with resistence trying to ge that flimsy $1 bill into the fare box.

I’m writing this because I was once one of those people – I thought the MUNI fare box was a vending machine. It was scanning my dollar for authenticity and would spit out any bills that weren’t crisp enough. In actuality the fare box is not a vending machine and there are two ways to make inserting worn out bills much easier.

1. Fold your bill in half the long way. (Aside from making you look cool, this will make it easier for the fare box to catch the bill)

2. Stack two bills on top of each other. (Two worn out bills combined to form one sort-of-kinda-decent bill)

You’re welcome, San Francisco.


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3 Responses to “The MUNI Fare Box is Not a Vending Machine”


  1. 1 Mara March 23, 2010 at 2:00 am

    Thanks so much for the info. I’ve stood in front of that farebox, abjectly humbled with my two worn bills, lotsa times. Now you’ve made those weird moments but a memory. Yeah!

    • 2 dmadey March 23, 2010 at 8:34 am

      Thanks for the kind words, Mara. The pressure of a bus full of eyes can be a lot when you’re at the fare box :)

      Both those tips/tricks – whatever we want to call them – were shown to me by MUNI drivers, so they do appreciate when you do it. Makes the route go faster and I *swear* they also hook me up with longer transfers!

  2. 3 Edmund March 23, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Can the same thing be done with Doug Dollars?


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