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November 18, 2011 > Time for SamTrans and BART riders to switch to Clipper

Time for SamTrans and BART riders to switch to Clipper

Submitted By MTC

It is time to move from paper to plastic. BART and SamTrans have launched intensive campaigns for November and December 2011 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, has joined 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 focused on enrolling seniors and youths in the Clipper program so that these customers can continue to enjoy transit discounts without interruption. BART is also telling commuters, who rely on High Value paper tickets which offer a 6.25 percent discount off regular fares, to switch to Clipper.

SamTrans' December 2011 monthly passes will be the last paper passes sold for most categories of riders. 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, 2011. 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 auto-load 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."

The message about the phase-out of paper tickets and passes has been clear 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 predicts 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 some customers may not be aware of the changes and are keen to inform as many as possible about the transition from paper passes and tickets to the Clipper card.

SamTrans and BART are holding a series of in-person, sign-up events in November and December 2011 at participating retailers, senior centers and transit stations where riders can obtain 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

Adult Clipper cards are also 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 two weeks for their card to arrive in the mail. Youths, who need a Clipper card sooner, should visit a transit agency ticket office or 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

View recent additions to the Clipper retailer network at retail. Stay tuned to for updates on new retailers and Clipper sign-up events.

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