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September 23, 2011 > Clipper to board San Francisco Bay ferries

Clipper to board San Francisco Bay ferries

Submitted By Brenda Kahn

MTC commissioners unanimously approved two key contract actions that chart a course for implementing Clipper on the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA)'s new Oakland/Alameda-to-South San Francisco line and replacing legacy fare collection systems at WETA's San Francisco and Alameda terminals with Clipper.

Those installations will effectively blanket WETA's current San Francisco Bay Ferry service area with Clipper - a fitting pairing given the nautical theme of Clipper's brand and its connection to the Clipper ships of yesteryear.

"We're excited at the prospect of implementing Clipper on our ferries," WETA Executive Director Nina Rannells told the commissioners at their September 9, 2011 meeting, adding that riders on the new line to South San Francisco are expecting the high-tech system to be in place when service begins next spring.

WETA has committed to pay $625,000 to procure Clipper equipment and software to support ferry operations at WETA's five terminals and to cover the cost of installation. MTC will manage the installation work under its ongoing contract with Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc.

WETA currently operates ferries serving Oakland's Jack London Square, Alameda's Main Street and Harbor Bay terminals, and San Francisco's Ferry Building and Pier 41, and is in negotiations to assume operation of the city of Vallejo's Baylink ferry service to San Francisco. Meanwhile, Golden Gate Transit's ferries have been part of the Clipper system for nearly 10 years.

In addition to Golden Gate ferries and buses, Clipper is accepted on S.F. Muni, BART, AC Transit, SamTrans, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and Caltrain. Together these seven pioneering systems account for 95 percent of the region's transit ridership and are now generating more than 500,000 Clipper rides a day - and nearly 14 million trips a month. Because WETA is funding the acquisition of Clipper equipment and installation in full, it is stepping to the head of the line of transit operators waiting to join the seven that already are collecting fares with the all-in-one transit fare card.

Staff also presented an information item on expanding Clipper to the other 20 transit operators in the region at the September 9 Operations Committee meeting.

In the memo, staff proposes grouping the candidate systems into four geographic areas: the 101 Corridor operators, East Bay operators, Solano/Napa County operators and ferries - with the latter category now addressed by the action to extend Clipper to WETA.

Which group will be next will depend on funding, availability of equipment, the number of riders served and other factors. The phasing will be addressed at a future meeting.

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