Last Friday, the Operations Committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (or what I like to call, the defacto Clipper Board of Directors) had their monthly meeting to discuss about updates about Clipper, amending existing contracts, and change orders to increase funding for the program.
Item three of their agenda contains a memorandum from the Executive Director. Here's the highlights:
- As we all know, November was the big transition of Muni's "A" paper pass to Clipper (40,000 users). This is the biggest transition to date for the program and a month prior to the November switch, 40% of pass users already converted.
- Clipper has faced a big challenge in advertising and promoting to people with limited English proficiency (LEP). SF Supervisor Chiu was the one who lit a fire under Clipper's butt on the issue.
- Due to the lack of promoting to LEP communities, the Executive Director asked the Operations Committee to approve $500,000 (yep, half a million) for customer education and in-person outreach with Swirl Marketing. MTC and Clipper have already spent $900,000 and another $1,000,000 on marketing, but that budget included MTC's other services like FasTrak and 511 as well. Amazingly: "This amendment will bring the total contract amount to $16,398,475" (ouch).
- The MTC also proposed to amend a contract with Booz Allen Hamilton, a company that provides "technical oversight of the Clipper Contractor and coordination with transit operators and other consultants." The amount to amend: $950,000. The total contract with Booz Allen Hamilton would be $5,507,988 (if passed by the committee).
- It seems the demand for Clipper cards has skyrocketed and the MTC underestimated the demand by a a few million dollars. In a previous posting, I mentioned Clipper spent $1 million for 475,000 cards ($2.11 each), now Clipper wants to change the contract with Cubic by spending an extra $4 million to get nearly two million (actually it's 1.9 million cards, but those government folks thinks two million is a nice round number) additional cards in stock to meet demand.
- The Clipper employment program and customer service needs a boost as well with $1.05 million more on top of their existing contract with Cubic.
- Since VTA wants to adapt their ticketing machines to add Clipper value, that's another $550,000 in the bucket.
- The MTC wants to add a third in-person customer service center (the first two will be in SF) by placing one in Oakland. That'll cost $400,000.
I'd better pray this investment is going to pay off dividends in the coming years.
In other meeting news, the BART Board of Directors is meeting this week and will talk about the transition of EZ Rider card users to Clipper. Unfortunately, last week's meeting on the 10th was abruptly canceled, but I was fortunate enough to get a copy of the General Manager's memorandum before the webmaster deleted the agenda's PDF file. The PDF file I got is a lot more extensive than the presentation now being shown on the current agenda on page 16.
Here's the highlights:
- December 15th is the deadline for EZ Rider users to transition to Clipper. So if you have that EZ Rider card and try to use it on the day after... sorry!
- For those who carry two cards: One for EZ Rider parking and the Clipper card for transit, a solution has been found to make it one card for both parking fees and transit fares.
- There was an increase in the tagging error rate, up 1.7% from 5% reported in last July's meeting. This is due to a major increase from 14,000 trips to 45,000 trips every weekday. The cause of the increase in read errors is due to the inexperience of new users.
- At its peak, EZ Rider had 50,000 users, but the Clipper transition has reduced it to now 9,000 still using the EZ Rider card.
- Clipper increased their telephone customer service staff from 22 to 52 to meet demand of the transition of paper passes from other agencies.
- In the month of September, Clipper has processed over 4,000,000 "fee generating transactions." Another way to think about it, a 400% increase in just six months.