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January 3, 2012 > Clipper reaches millionth card

Clipper reaches millionth card

Submitted By MTC

The Bay Area's Clipper transit fare-collection program now has a million active cards in circulation. Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) staff credit the surge to transit operators' campaigns to move more riders, especially youth and seniors, from paper tickets and passes to the reloadable Clipper card before the end of 2011. As of December 16, 2011, there were 1,000,606 active Clipper cards in use, an increase of approximately 2,000 from the previous week. The million-plus active cards represent a 30 percent increase from the 778,197 active cards in circulation six months ago and a 142 percent increase from the 413,616 active cards in circulation a year ago.

"We're delighted with the numbers. Word is spreading that it's time to switch from paper to plastic," said Clipper Program Senior Coordinator Jacob Avidon. "With the holidays upon us, we remind Bay Area residents the Clipper card makes a great environmentally friendly gift; you can put as much as $300 on the card to encourage friends and family to take transit in 2012."

BART is in the midst of a campaign to alert riders about the need to switch to Clipper cards to access discounted fares, viz. youth, senior, disabled and high-value tickets. The paper versions of these BART tickets are now available at only a few retail locations; Clipper is the easiest way for riders to keep their discounts. BART has spread the word via events, in-station advertising and other avenues.

SamTrans has also organized outreach events to sign-up riders for a Clipper card before the Peninsula bus system's paper monthly passes are phased out at the end of 2011. Riders seem to be taking heed, with a week-over-week increase of 14 percent in the number of SamTrans passengers paying their fares via Clipper, as of December 9, 2011.

For overall Bay Area transit ridership, MTC recorded an average of 584,000 weekday transit boardings using the Clipper card, a year-over-year increase of almost 80 percent, for the week ending December 9, 2011. San Francisco Muni leads with 328,000 average weekday boardings over the week ending December 9, about half of its ridership. BART follows with 169,000 weekday Clipper boardings, representing 45 percent of its weekday traffic, then AC Transit with 50,000 weekday boardings, about 25 percent of its weekday ridership.

All of these daily boarding figures include trips made with Clipper's predecessor, the TransLink card, which is still being used by early converts to electronic fare payment. There are 65,000 TransLink cards still in circulation in addition to the million-plus Clipper cards.

Seven major transit operators accept the Clipper card plus Caltrain, SamTrans, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the Golden Gate Bus and Ferry system. Clipper can also be used on the express bus service across the Dumbarton Bridge. Clipper allows riders to transfer seamlessly among the region's transit operators without having to carry cash or purchase multiple passes.

Introduced by MTC in June 2010 with five major transit systems (plus the Dumbarton Express), the Clipper program has been growing exponentially as more transit agencies have joined and as participating systems have been phasing out paper fare media and transitioning to the Clipper card.

Adult Clipper cards are available at many Walgreens stores, at other participating retail locations and online at or by calling 877-878-8883. Youth and senior riders must apply in person at transit agency ticket offices or at the two Clipper walk-up service centers in San Francisco or at sign-up events (go to and click on the "Get" tab for locations). While the cards are free during Clipper's extended introductory period, riders must load cash value, tickets or passes before using the card.

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