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Thursday, September 9, 2010

How Much is Your Clipper Card Worth? Just $2.11

Ever wondered, how much does it cost the MTC to buy new Clipper cards to distribute to the public? The answer is... $2.11 each.

This was discovered in the MTC's Operations Committee meeting agenda, and will be discussed tomorrow meeting at their hearing. (See Clipper contract PDF document)

In order for Clipper to meet the demand of the public with the plastic cards, the agency will need to order an additional 475,000 cards at a cost of $1,000,000 (one million dollars), including tax "in order to meet projected demand through FY 2010-11" and to keep a small reserve just in case of a spike in demand.

Strange, isn't it? Once Clipper ends their "free" distribution, people must pay $5 to get a card. I guess that extra $2.89 is the labor cost ($5 - $2.11 = $2.89).

Other Clipper related news from the Operations meeting agenda...
  • For the month of August, Clipper transactions per day exceeded 100,000.
  • Also, for the month of August, Muni is #1 when it comes to Clipper usage, followed closely by BART, AC Transit, and Golden Gate Transit/Ferry. Hmmm... where's Caltrain?
  • VTA and Samtrans has passed their "revenue ready" stage and should be ready to accept Clipper payment sometime this Fall.
  • Since Clipper cards have been given away since their debut on June 16th, the documents claim the free giveaways have resulted in distributing "several hundred thousand" of the cards.
  • Clipper intends to modify their free card giveaway policy: "...the program plans to adopt a new policy in September that will require customers to add a nominal amount of value when acquiring a new card; this policy is intended to discourage customers from unnecessarily acquiring multiple cards or otherwise misusing the cards."
  • Golden Gate Ferry is going to receive new fare gates and ticketing machines in the future as a way to automate their process. Exactly similar to what Muni is installing right now (including the paper limited use tickets), the MTC intends to spend $148,000 to procure the machines and wire it up.


Anonymous said...

Part of that $5 charge is because you can use the card until it has a negative value (as you've mentioned previously). This way they won't really have a negative balance.

However, since the cards have been given away free so far, most people won't think about it.

The $5 also deters people from throwing cards away and getting new ones unnecessarily. They can't track your use and where about as easily if users repeatedly acquire new or multiple cards.

Aside from that, the cards are plastic. Are these recyclable even? They are some type of plastic so they could potentially end up in that big Pacific plastic patch. If not, the cost of virgin plastic is less than recycled...

I recall in Hong Kong, I had to pay HK$150, US$19appx, to intially obtain an Octopus card with HK$100, US$13 appx, usable. The remaining $50 of value was held as a deposit. I returned the card at the end of my trip and the $50 and unused value was refunded to me. Are Clippers refundable in a similar manner?

Akit said...

Not sure if they can be recycled. Muni says their new paper tickets could be not recyclable because they contain electronics in it (never really gave a definite answer).

Anonymous said...

Akit, Your doing a great job of reporting on Clipper. I work for one of the 6 transit agencies who have implemented Clipper. We're not doing a great job because MTC is ramming it down our throats. Also MTC's consultants, BAH, is directing much of the work. They have put all their faith in Cubic; the fare gates are the latest example of how the project is run. Keep up the good work!