Yesterday was the first day of paid service for SunRail. We’ve already provided you with an overview of your fare options and our recommendations on what to purchase, but some aspects of the SunRail fare system just aren’t working or have bugs.
This can be a problem if you’re looking to purchase or load your SunCard online or transfer from between SunRail and Lynx for free.
Instead of just reporting on the problems we’re going to show you how to get the system to work for you.
The two biggest technology problems are that you can’t add your SunCard to your account and that the Lynx busses aren’t accepting SunCards and the SunRail ticket vending machines don’t accept Lynx passes for transfers.
Here are our workarounds:
Adding your SunCard to your SunRail Account so you can load money online
Like many others we experienced problems adding our SunCard to our SunRail account. We even had to call SunRail customer support who notified us that we were one of many experiencing the same problem. The good news is we figured out how to do it.
The first step is creating a SunRail account at account.sunrail.com. Once you have an account and are logged in, you’ll think you should click “Activate your SunCard” but this is only necessary if you ordered your card online. You’ll also think you should click “Manage your SunRail Account,” probably because it says “If you already have a SunCard, take advantage of useful tools like adding passes or checking your SunCard balance.” but they are lying so don’t click there. Instead, you should click “Balance Protection” or “Protect your Balance.” Both of those will take you to a page where you can input your SunCard number (they call it your Fare Media Number) and give your SunCard a nickname (we called ours “Bob”).
Once you have done this, now you can go to the “Manage your SunRail Account” page to either add money onto the card or add a travel plan to the card. When you are on the “Manage your SunRail Account” or “My SunCard” page (it’s called different things in different parts of the site), you can click the “Add Product” button at the bottom of the page. The default is to add a pre-paid value, however if you want to add a weekly monthly or annual product you will need to click the small arrows next to them on the left (don’t click on the product name, that doesn’t work).
When it comes to pre-paid products the default is $20. You can however change that, but first you will need to add it to your cart. Once it’s in your cart you can change the amount and update your cart.
Setting up Autoload
This one may be a bit more obvious, but once you add your SunCard to your account you’ll be tempted to set up autoload. However, you will quickly realize that clicking the “Autoload” button does nothing. That’s because before you can set up autoload, you need to add some money on your card. Once you do that (following the instructions above), you can now go back to your SunCard page and setup autoload. We set ours up for a $10 autoload, but we’re still not clear about when the auto load will hit. We assume it should be at anything less than $4 since that’s the most you would need for a trip. We’ll find out.
Getting Free Transfers from Lynx to SunRail
Eventually you’ll be able to use your Lynx pass to get a free transfer at any SunRail ticket vending machine. However, the technology doesn’t work yet. Instead you’ll need to ask the bus operator for a free transfer pass when you exit the bus at a SunRail station. You can take that pass and swipe (not tap) at the ticket vending machine on the SunRail platform to get a free single-county one-way ticket. If you are traveling to more than one county you can upgrade for an extra $1 per county.
Getting Free Transfers from SunRail to Lynx
Again, eventually you’ll be able to tap your SunCard or SunRail ticket to get on a Lynx bus. And again, the technology just isn’t working yet to do this. Instead you can show you SunCard or SunRail ticket to the bus operator to get on the bus at a SunRail station. You may be asked to show the date on your SunRail ticket. You will only get one free transfer so if you are going to transfer to a second bus, you’ll need to pay full fare on that bus.
SunRail Tickets Expire the day you Purchase Them
Thinking ahead and buying a ticket for tomorrow? Don’t. We’ve learned from some riders that the one-way and round-trip tickets are only good on the day you purchase them. So only purchase when you plan to use them. Interestingly enough, you can walk up to a ticket vending machine and purchase a ticket on the weekend, even though there are no trains on the weekend. If you do, you just purchased a ticket you can never use. Hopefully they will turn of the limited use ticket purchases on the weekend.
Have you noticed any quirks or bugs? Let us know in the comments.
GNickMonkeytenor Yes ….right now you need to get a transfer pass when you depart the bus each time and use that to get your SunRail ticket…once the systems are connected you’ll just be able to swipe your Lynx monthly pass at the SunRail ticket vending machine and the TVM will confirm that you just got off the bus and give you your SunRail ticket.
I have a Lynx Advantage monthly bus pass. Does my pass let me transfer to SunRail or do I have to pay? The first time I used it the pass worked and then the next time I had a ghetto acting SunRail worker who could barely speak English tell me it didn’t work that way and that I needed a transfer from the bus I rode to the station. I just want to know if it’s possible because I would utilize SunRail
Yeah…it looks a lot like old school software development and look to be built off an internal system instead of thinking about the user first. But either way it’s bad when I call customer service and they had no clue how to add a SunCard this way!
After reading this article, it sounds like the ticketing software was designed by old farts who are clueless about smart, user-friendly technology. My guess is the contract went to the lowest bidder – not always the best choice. 😉