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September 6, 2011 > Daily Clipper card use tops the half-million mark

Daily Clipper card use tops the half-million mark

Submitted By Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Buoyed by a surge in back-to-school ridership on Bay Area public transit systems, the Clipper card reached and surpassed the milestone of a half-million daily boardings on a consistent basis, for the first time, during the week ending August 26, 2011.

There were 505,000 average daily boardings using the Clipper card on the region's seven participating transit systems for the week, an eight-fold increase from the 63,000 daily boardings logged by MTC's precursor electronic fare collection system before the introduction of Clipper just over a year ago, in June 2010.

"Transaction volume has exploded over the last 12 months," said Jake Avidon, MTC's senior program coordinator for Clipper.

Muni, AC Transit and BART staged a number of outreach events this summer to sign up youths for the program, with nearly 50,000 Clipper youth cards distributed to date.

Among the seven Bay Area transit operators participating in the Clipper program, San Francisco Muni leads the charge, with 304,000 average daily Clipper boardings which equates to almost half of the agency's nearly 700,000 daily boardings (per the American Public Transportation Association, APTA) towards the end of August 2011.

Muni completed migration of its adult monthly passes to Clipper earlier this year. As of this August, Muni completed the smooth transition of its youth monthly pass to Clipper-only and is encouraging customers who use cash for each ride to pay with Clipper (which can carry a cash balance as well as passes).

Meanwhile, more than a third of BART's weekday riders use Clipper to pay their fares. BART recorded 130,000 average daily boardings using Clipper in the week ending August 26, compared to 360,000 average daily boardings overall (per APTA).

"You don't need (paper) tickets anymore. No small leftover values to consolidate and magnets are your friend again," BART points out enthusiastically on its website, alluding to the weaknesses of the old paper-based tickets, which are prone to being disabled by magnets in purse clasps and the like. The website also promotes the convenience of Clipper: "When you get to the fare gate, tag, open and go!"

AC Transit logged nearly 40,000 average daily Clipper boardings in the same period, out of a total traffic load of 195,000 daily boardings (per APTA), a 20 percent market penetration on that system.

Also currently participating in Clipper are Golden Gate Transit and Ferry in the North Bay, Sam Trans and Caltrain on the Peninsula and the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in the South Bay.

Overall, there are 900,000 Clipper cards in active use, and Clipper fare payments now account for about a third of the roughly 1.5 million daily transit trips in the Bay Area.

Looking at the big picture, MTC is in the final stages of completing deployment among the region's major transit operators, which together account for 95 percent of transit ridership in the region. Strategies for expanding the system beyond these seven operators to the region's remaining 20 or so ferry, bus and rail operators will be discussed at MTC's Operations Committee meeting on September 9, 2011.

For more information, visit

Where to Get and Reload Clipper

You can do all Clipper transactions online at, including requesting and registering a card, adding value, arranging auto-load, and more.

Want to pick up your card in person? During September 2011, BART is staging a dozen Clipper sign-up events in the East Bay where adult and senior cards will be distributed on the spot, and students can apply for a youth card (with age verification). View the schedule at

You can also pick up a Clipper card at most Walgreens stores, the Clipper kiosk at the Embarcadero BART/Muni station in San Francisco (which is now open weekends from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in addition to its weekday hours), the Bay Crossings Store in the SF Ferry Building, at transit agency ticket offices and a number of other locations. See for retail locations. These locations also can add passes and cash value on the spot.

MTC and the transit operators have enhanced convenience by expanding the options for instantly adding value, with all 44 BART stations now equipped with Clipper-ready fare machines. All nine S.F. Muni Metro stations have fare machines that can both dispense Clipper cards and add value. This month, Clipper add-value machines are scheduled to be installed at three Caltrain stations, at 4th and King in San Francisco, Palo Alto and the San Jose Diridon station. Golden Gate Ferry terminals in Larkspur, Sausalito and San Francisco have ticket vending machines that can both dispense a Clipper card and add value.

Discounted BART high-value tickets are available via auto-load through the Clipper service bureau, accessible via or at 877.878.8883.

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