Clipper® Update: South Bay Makes the Switch From Paper to Plastic


Clipper® is an all-in-one transit card that keeps track of any passes,discount tickets, ride books and cash value that you load onto it, while applying all applicable fares, discounts and transfer rules. This lets you customize your card for your own transit needs.The Clipper card can hold multiple passes, ride books or tickets (which are specific to the transit system being used), as well as up to $300 in cash value at one time. Cash value on your Clipper card can be used to ride any participating transit system.

You can add value (in the form of both passes and cash value) to your card as you go, or for added convenience, you can set up your card to automatically reload whenever your pass expires or your cash balance falls below $10.

Clipper can be used on Muni, BART, AC Transit, VTA, SamTrans, Caltrain and Golden Gate Transit and Ferry. Tri Delta is in line for the Clipper however MTC has not given them an official date. They say it depends on funding – ballpark estimate is 24-36 months. The new fareboxes recently purchased by Tri Delta are “Clipper Card compatible”.

The regionwide effort to transition from paper transit passes to the all-in-one plastic Clipper card made an important leap forward this summer when the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in Santa Clara County eliminated paper monthly passes. As of July 2012, VTA’s monthly Adult Flash Pass (Express and Standard), youth pass and disabled/senior pass will be available only through Clipper. VTA began accepting Clipper as payment in February 2011, and VTA customers used Clipper to pay for nearly 420,000 trips in May 2012.

Customers can get a Clipper card and reload cash value and/or passes at a network of several dozen retailers in Santa Clara County, including more than 30 Walgreens stores, or via the clippercard.com site or Clipper Customer Service at 877.878.8883. During this introductory period, Clipper cards can be obtained free of charge with a minimum initial load of $5.

VTA’s move to eliminate paper discount passes follows similar fare policy changes by the other major Bay Area transit agencies participating in Clipper. In addition to VTA, Clipper is currently in use on AC Transit, BART, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit and Ferry, SamTrans, San Francisco Muni, the Dumbarton Express, and San Francisco Bay Ferry (currently only on the South San Francisco/East Bay route), with more Bay Area transit systems coming on board in the future.

Introduced by MTC just two years ago, Clipper accounts for nearly half of all daily transit rides in the Bay Area. There were 1,166,000 active Clipper cards in circulation as of May 31, 2012. The single card makes it easy to transfer between transit systems and modes, and factors in fare changes as they happen, making for a seamless travel experience for the rider.

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About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Data Center Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit and Transplan
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