Commuter Checks redemption for BART and Caltrain
First time posting to this section of the site (I usually hang out in the NorCal regional forum). I wondered if there are any Bay Area folks who have used Commuter Checks on BART or Caltrain.
So ... my employer lets offers me the ability to buy Commuter Checks out of my pre-tax wages. Additionally they match me dollar for dollar so if I allocate $50 a month out of my paycheck, I get $100 worth of the vouchers. So far I have about $200 worth of the checks and haven't used any yet since I don't actually take transit that often but I would like to redeem these for actual BART or Caltrain tickets. Information on how to do this is a little sparse, especially for Caltrain. And they don't really make it a convenient process from what I can tell so far. Here's what I understand it so far:
They have "high value" tickets that you can purchase at places like grocery stores. I didn't find anywhere on bart.gov where they say that stores will accept commuter checks though. Anyone have experience with this? You can also use commuter checks to buy tickets via snail mail or at select stations although that's a lot less convenient for me.
Also I understand that the high value BART tickets come in 45 and 60 denominations and that if you redeem less than this value of commuter checks, you must make up the difference in cash (makes sense) but you're not allowed to overpay with commuter checks and get change. This kind of sucks since all my checks are in $25 denominations
Lastly, commuter checks are not compatible with the EZ Rider Card
You can redeem commuter checks at a "staffed station" (which is either San Francisco or San Jose) or else at Caltrain headquarters in San Carlos. You can also apply for "Tickets by Mail" and redeem the commuter checks only for a monthly pass via snail mail.
I don't want a monthly pass because I don't ride the train enough. When I do ride it, it's not for commuting and thus I'm not always going between the same two stations. My "home" station is Menlo Park but sometimes I'll go to San Francisco, sometimes Millbrae, sometimes Hillsdale, sometimes Santa Clara, sometimes San Jose. Is there any way to prepay for some kind of tickets that would cover my usage pattern? And if so how do I pay with my commuter checks. Caltrain web site has a rather conspicuous lack of info here
I feel like I've got BART pretty well figured out. If anyone has experience with Caltrain I'd love to hear it.
Finally, I have too many frowny faces in this post so far. Need to put in a few of these
How To Use a Commuter Check Card to Purchase a Caltrain Monthly Pass
I've just had a painful experience with using Commuter Checks to buy a Caltrain monthly pass, but I was able to do it in the end (sort of). You can read the details in my blog post here: