The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and several major Bay Area transit operators--but not the Wheels bus system locally-- have unveiled a re-branded, all-in-one transit fare card called the Clipper card.
Clipper, formerly known as TransLink, is currently accepted on six transit systems in the region: BART, AC Transit, Caltrain, San Francisco Municipal Railway, Golden Gate Transit & Ferry and Dumbarton Express, an extension of AC Transit's service. Eventually, all Bay Area transit agencies will offer the service, MTC spokesman John Goodwin said.
In addition to this week's unveiling, the MTC also announced that it will provide monetary incentives to customers in an effort to increase use of the reloadable cards by tenfold.
Goodwin said that the distinctive blue and white Clipper cards ordinarily cost $5, but they will be available free of charge for all customers through the rest of this summer. The cost is also waived when customers link the card to a bank account or credit card to automatically refresh the electronic value.
Customers already using TransLink cards will not need to roll over onto the new system; their cards will continue to work, Goodwin said.
However, paper versions of monthly passes will soon become a thing of the past, Goodwin said. Beginning in August, transit agencies will start phasing out the traditional paper passes, starting with Muni and its monthly FastPass, and replacing them with the Clipper card.
To use Clipper, passengers "tag" their cards by touching them to the Clipper logo as they board a bus or enter a transit station. The system automatically deducts the correct fare and applies any discounts - including transfers - for each trip.
Officials made the decision to change the name last fall when they were crafting the launch of the service's first marketing campaign, Goodwin said. He said it cost the MTC $500,000 to change the name.
Two more agencies, SamTrans and the Santa Clara Valley
Transportation Authority, are slated to roll out the system later this year, he said, making the service available to approximately 90 percent of transit users in the Bay Area. But the MTC did not include the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA), which operates Wheels, in its announcement.
The MTC, which has coordinated the development of a regional transit fare payment system since the original TransLink pilot program debuted in 2002, had reservations about continuing to use the TransLink name because several faraway locations, including Vancouver, Canada and Brisbane,
Australia, already use the name.