OAKLAND, Calif., Nov. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Two major Bay Area public transit systems, BART and SamTrans, have an important message for riders: It's time to move from paper to plastic. Both agencies are mounting intensive campaigns in November and December to transition more of their riders from paper tickets and passes to the Bay Area's reloadable, plastic Clipper® fare card before the end of the year.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), which is spearheading the regional Clipper fare payment program, is joining with BART and SamTrans to alert the public to major changes in the availability and acceptance of paper fare media on these two systems come December 31, 2011.
Both the regional BART rail system and SamTrans, which operates buses throughout San Mateo County and into San Francisco, are putting a special focus on enrolling seniors and youths in the Clipper program so that these riders can continue to enjoy transit discounts without interruption. BART is also telling its commuters who rely on High Value paper tickets, which offer a 6.25 percent discount off regular fares, that it's time to switch to Clipper.
In the case of SamTrans, the December 2011 monthly passes will be the last paper passes sold for most categories of riders. To emphasize that point, SamTrans has decorated its December passes with a Clipper logo ad and the message, "This is the last paper pass — Clipper is here!"
SamTrans passes transitioning to Clipper-only are the Eligible Discount Pass used by senior, disabled and Medicare patrons, the Youth Pass, the Local Pass, the Local/SF Pass, and the Express Pass. The January 2012 SamTrans passes, and most categories of monthly passes thereafter, will be available only on Clipper, although SamTrans patrons will still be able to pay for single rides with cash.
Meanwhile, BART has been steadily phasing out its network of retailers that sell three types of discounted paper tickets: the High Value tickets, green tickets (for seniors) and red tickets (for disabled and youth riders). While BART will continue to accept these special paper tickets, the agency is cutting back its distribution network to a handful of retail locations and the special paper tickets will not be readily available to the public after December 31. BART riders will still be able to buy full-fare paper tickets at the ticket machines in stations indefinitely.
The switch from paper to plastic fare media is a plus for riders, according to MTC Chair Adrienne Tissier, who serves as vice president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and also sits on the boards of directors for SamTrans and the Caltrain rail system, which connects Gilroy and San Jose with San Francisco.
"Customers will have the extra convenience of autoload on their Clipper cards," said Tissier. "BART commuters can set it up so that a new High Value ticket will load whenever the balance falls below $10. You'll never be caught without enough money to exit. Likewise for SamTrans' monthly pass users — you can load it to your card automatically every month."
Riders have been getting the message about the phase-out of paper tickets and passes, with the number of active Clipper cards in circulation growing at the rate of more than 7,000 or more per week this fall ("active" refers to cards that have been used at least once in the last year). MTC staff predict that the number of active Clipper cards in circulation will soon hit one million, driven in part by the BART and SamTrans campaigns.
Still, the transit agencies fear that some customers may experience a surprise come the new year, and are ramping up efforts to get the word out about the transition from paper passes and tickets to the Clipper card.
Both SamTrans and BART are staging a series of in-person sign-up events in November and December at participating retailers, senior centers and transit stations where riders can pick up a free adult or senior Clipper card (seniors must show proof of age), and where students can sign up for a free youth card (also with proof of age). View the schedule for upcoming events at clippercard.com/events.
Adult Clipper cards are also readily available at many Walgreens stores and other participating retail locations. While the cards are free during this introductory period, riders must load cash value or passes before using the card.
Youths who sign up for Clipper at the outreach events will have to wait up to a couple of weeks for their card to arrive in the mail. Youths in a hurry to get a Clipper card can pick one up at several transit agency ticket offices or at the Clipper kiosk at San Francisco's Embarcadero BART/Muni station and at the Bay Crossings Store in the San Francisco Ferry Building. For a comprehensive list of Clipper locations that accept applications for youth and senior Clipper cards, visit clippercard.com/discount.
Simultaneous with phasing out the sale and use of SamTrans paper monthly passes, the Clipper program has been beefing up the network of retailers on the Peninsula where riders can secure a Clipper card and add value. There are now 37 Clipper-ready retailers along the Peninsula, including 16 Walgreens stores. The Clipper retail network is also expanding elsewhere. View recent additions to the retailer network at clippercard.com/retail . And stay tuned to Facebook.com/BayAreaClipper for updates on new retailers and Clipper sign-up events.
Background on Clipper
More and more riders are discovering the joys of moving around the region with the blue, sailing-themed Clipper card, which is accepted on AC Transit, the Dumbarton Express, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit and Ferry, San Francisco Muni, and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in addition to BART and SamTrans, with more agencies to follow in the coming months. The sail motif evokes the era of the clipper ships, which revolutionized travel to the West Coast in the 1800s. The Clipper card is similarly revolutionizing transit travel in the Bay Area by eliminating the need to carry exact change, and allowing seamless hopping between the eight member transit systems.
Introduced by MTC in June of 2010 with six charter transit systems, the Clipper program has been growing exponentially as more transit agencies have joined and as they have been phasing out paper fare media and transitioning to the Clipper card. The number of weekday transit boardings made with Clipper now regularly hits 600,000, more than a third of all daily transit trips in the region.
S.F. Muni is leading the charge, with 335,000 weekday boardings as of the week ending October 28, 2011, while BART is in the number two position, with 157,000 weekday boardings, and AC Transit is in third place with 52,000 weekday boardings. A full 42 percent of all BART trips are now paid with Clipper.
MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
SOURCE Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)