Clipper

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Clipper is a smart card fare-payment system for the Bay Area. As a smart card system, Clipper cards are capable to store e-cash, passes, and other forms of tickets (depending on agency).

Clipper card front lr.jpg


Clipper web site


Clipper cards are accepted on AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit and Ferry, Dumbarton Express, Muni, BART, Caltrain, SamTrans, and VTA.

On June 16, 2010, Clipper was renamed from TransLink. Translink readers were re-branded and new cards will carry a Clipper logo, but all the existing TransLink cards will continue to work.

Old TransLink cards will continue to work.

Contents

Card features

  • Riders can use the same card to transfer between different operators.
  • No exact change needed when boarding buses.
  • Transfer discounts and fare upgrades apply automatically.
  • Rider can still ride if the value on the card is less than the fare charged (Rider has to add value and pay for the negative balance before the next ride).
  • If the card is registered, the owner can restore balance in the event of loss, theft, or damage.

Card drawbacks

  • Card costs $3 unless it is ordered online with autoload.
  • Two people cannot use the same card.
  • If the card is not working (not the reader), the rider must pay cash fare.
  • Limited retail locations. (which can accept paper tax-benefit vouchers like Commuter Checks)
  • Card does not provide inter-agency transfer privileges to agencies that have yet to accept Clipper.
  • E-cash on the card cannot be converted into passes or BART values.
  • Youth and seniors need to register in advance to receive a youth or senior Clipper card. Youth and senior fares cannot be paid with a regular Clipper card.
  • Values and passes ordered online or over the phone can take as long as 5 days to be loaded.

How to pay with the card

Simply tag the card on the Clipper logo appearing on every Clipper reader and hold it for a beep.

While most systems only require a single tag before or upon boarding, Golden Gate Transit, Caltrain, and SF Bay Ferry (they don't have fare gates) implement a policy that requires a second tag when or after getting off the vehicle. If you do not tag the second time, you will be overpaying the fare.

Where to get cards

  • Online
  • Retail locations (see below for map)
    1. AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, Muni, SamTrans/Caltrain, and VTA offices/customer service center
    2. Selected retail locations
    3. Most Walgreens in the AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, Muni, SamTrans/Caltrain, and VTA areas.
  • Muni ticket machines at underground Muni Metro stations (including 4 downtown SF BART stations).
  • Golden Gate Ferry ticket machines at the Ferry Building, Larkspur, and Sausalito ferry terminals.

Regular Clipper card costs $3. It is free when ordered online with autoload. Cards for youth and seniors are free.

For youth and senior riders, special Clipper cards are necessary to pay youth/senior fares or load youth/senior passes. To obtain these cards, you will need to submit an application to these transit offices in person. Documentation proving eligibility is also required.

How to add value

Regardless of where you get the card, you can always add value to your card through:

  • Online
  • Retail locations (see below for map)
  • Clipper Add Value machines
  • Muni ticket machines at underground Muni Metro stations (including 4 downtown SF BART stations).
  • BART ticket machines at all BART stations (e-cash only, no fare products).
  • VTA Light Rail ticket machines available at all VTA Light Rail stations (including Mountain View, San Jose Diridon and Tamien Caltrain stations)
  • Golden Gate Ferry ticket machines at the Ferry Building, Larkspur, and Sausalito ferry terminals.
  • Set up Autoload, where values are automatically added from your bank account or credit card whenever the value on the card has dropped below $10 or when the pass is about to expire.

If you choose to add value through the web site, it would take up to five days for the values to show up on the reader (basically the system has to transmit your payment information to readers on vehicles and at stations, as the system has no other means of updating your card directly). If you want to use your values immediately, you will need to add value through retail outlets (like Walgreens), transit offices, or add value machines.

Map of retail locations

Small blue dots indicate retail locations and vending machines. BART and VTA Light Rail stations are shown. All ticket machines at BART stations can add e-cash values onto Clipper cards (no pass). Ticket machines at Muni Metro subway stations and all VTA Light Rail stations can add e-cash and passes.

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