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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's Resolutions for the Clipper Card Program

A very happy new year from Akit's Complaint Department! If you have made some New Year's resolutions, you are not alone! A few of my resolutions is to find a girlfriend (ladies, I'm single!), take Muni more often to work to save gas, and read more books.

As many of you know, I am the unofficial lord of information about the Clipper card program, and I thought of some great resolutions for the MTC, Clipper, and their participating agencies should try to stick to:
  1. Get BART ticketing machines able to add Clipper value. I know they are going to be ready within a few months, but let's see if they can stick to their goal.
  2. Find a solution for Caltrain users to add Clipper value at all stations. The Clipper folks told me they were originally intending to move the old Clipper machines Muni had at their metro stations and send them to Caltrain, but that was scrapped.
  3. The next batch of Clipper cards ordered should be a little more scratch resistant. My card has only been in use for six months and the front has tons of scratches and a few rough patches.
  4. Find a way for transit agency ticket offices to issue youth and senior Clipper cards on the spot instead of waiting weeks for a card to be mailed.
  5. It would be great if I could pay for city owned lots with my card. The SFMTA intends to start a pilot project with certain city garages, but no recent news about this.
  6. More Clipper card vendors are needed in the western part of SF, especially at SF State and the Outer Sunset.
  7. Mini Clipper cards and licensed products like wristbands and watches. Hong Kong's Octopus Card program does this extensively.
  8. Late night transfer privileges on Muni. Clipper cards only give the standard 90 minutes versus the paper transfers valid until 6AM the next day.
  9. Extend Muni transfers on Clipper from 90 minutes to two hours.
  10. Save a little money for each e-cash ride on Clipper than paying coins or bills to encourage faster boarding than a bus idling to handle cash paying customers. In Washington D.C., passengers save 25 cents on Metrorail and 20 cents on Metrobus by using their SmarTrip card than paying cash.
  11. Buy Clipper e-cash value in bulk and get bonus e-cash. New York City does it with their MetroCard.
  12. Being able to purchase high value BART tickets on Clipper without enrolling in the autoload program.
  13. Install Clipper card readers at the entrances to the 2nd & King Muni metro station due to the thousands of ballgame fans at AT&T Park.
  14. A calmer beeping sound for confirmed transactions on all Clipper readers (not including BART and Muni metro gates). Instead of "BEEEEEEEEEP!!!!!!" how about "Boooop!"
  15. A card acceptance sound emitted for the BART gates.
  16. Stop selling Muni e-tokens/e-ridebooks. It's pointless when each token/ride costs the same as paying in e-cash (no discount).
  17. Allow Muni limited use tickets (LUTs) to have at least four rides instead of the maximum of two on it.
  18. Work with a bank to issue a debit/credit card that can be used as a Clipper card too.
  19. Work with local universities to have them issue their photo campus ID with Clipper technology loaded on it. They already do it at the Peralta colleges. Maybe support campaigns for local universities to also include discounted transit pass benefits as part of their campus fees/tuition.
  20. Establish a mobile Clipper sales van to visit certain stations and neighborhoods on certain days and commute hours. For example, a Clipper van is at Hillsdale Caltrain station every Wednesday during morning rush, relocates to San Mateo City Hall for mid-day, and the van moves to Palo Alto station for the evening rush for the Stanford students. The next day, they go to the North Bay to primarily serve Golden Gate Transit customers. It always operates on a set schedule so everyone knows each week, and each certain day and time is their opportunity to add value and buy passes.

After sending out a Tweet to everyone on their wish list, here's what came back:
  1. Parking meter and taxi cab payment. (@jashsf)
  2. Fixing website, full of HTML errors and odd login. (@mrericsir)
  3. At Millbrae Caltrain station, make it possible for those transferring from Caltrain to BART to simply tag their card at the BART gate to both tag-off for Caltrain and tag-on for entry to BART (no need to tag-off a Caltrain reader and enter BART after). More readers at Caltrain stations and fix autoload of 8-ride Caltrain tickets to only add-on at zero, not two remaining rides. (@murphstahoe)
  4. For 8-ride e-tickets on Caltrain with e-cash balance on card, be able to get automatically charged the zone upgrade fee when going beyond the zones designated on 8-ride. (@makfan)
Got your own ideas? Leave a comment.


@makfan said...

Great idea at Millbrae! I have nearly missed BART trying to get to the not-very-conveniently located Caltrain readers northbound.

Anonymous said...

How about ditching the planned $2 surcharge on automated loads via workplace commuter benefits programs?

Conexis just notified me that Clipper intends to charge $2 per transaction for loading value onto the card through my pre-tax commuter benefits program. This is an obvious money grab that should be stopped.

Akit said...

Planned $2 surcharge? That's a new one.

The only such $2 charge I know of (OK, not really a charge) is if using a commuter benefits debit card on Clipper, they have to do a temporary $2 authorization charge. It's at:

khieng said...

Allow clipper to be a form of payment for BART parking.

I know as of December you can now link your clipper card to an ezrider account. But that program requires you to pay for a hang tag and create a seperate cash account set aside just for parking. And you can only check the balance of that account on the ezrider website (not the clipper site).

There is already a vending machine inside the BART station for people who want to pay for parking with cash. Why can't that machine be updated so you can tag your clipper card to pay for parking?

Akit said...

Victor: BART eliminated EZ Rider for parking and it's now on Clipper. Same hangtags and very similar policies on its use, just a different card.

It could be possible to modify the addfare machines, but that could unravel a bigger problem (below).

One problem with parking regards commuter benefits. There's two benefits a customer can have, one covers public transit only, and the other is specifically for parking. Clipper has to maintain a separate parking account for BART to comply with IRS regulations.

Jeremy Hannon said...

How about fixing their integration with BART and Wageworks. It is still not possible to add on a BART High-value ticket via Wageworks unless you are using the debit card method. Your only options are the standard Bart high-value ticket or adding Clipper Cash, where you loose out on the high-value ticket discount.

Unknown said...

I know I'm too late to add to the list, but I figured I should throw this idea out there anyhow:
Why not eliminate the tagging on/off to load a Caltrain monthly pass to the Clipper card?

I have a recurring monthly pass order through Clipper Direct, but I still need to tag on/off once a month in order to actually get this pass on my card. I also need to maintain a cach balance in order to do this.

This is not a terrible inconvenience in itself unless I forget to tag off. In this case I am charged the maximum fare of $9.50 and I have to call Clipper for them to fix the mess.

This whole procedure seems absolutely unnecessary, and I would very much like for it to be removed.

Anonymous said...

Did Muni secretly eliminate transfers? I haven't used Clipper since Dec 30 and got reamed for $8 today.

Boarded bus at 19th and Lincoln around 7:20am for $2. Entered Van Ness Metro about 20 min later and was charged another $2.

Entered Montgomery Metro for $2 at 5:15pm. Then charged another $2 to board a bus at 5th and Market about 10 minutes later.

Akit said...

Check on your Clipper history report in a couple of days when all your rides are posted. If you notice being charged when your e-transfer should have kicked in, contest it with Clipper management.

Anonymous said...

Ok, now what? The Clipper history seems to indicate that the clocks on the diesel bus readers were 2 hours and 37 hours off. How would I prove that the readers on the buses were incorrect?

Akit said...

The only thing you can really do is discuss the timing problem with Clipper customer service. If it seems it's not helping, ask for a supervisor.

Anonymous said...

Just called Clipper about the incorrect charges. They told me it will take 45 days to get refunded. Ridiculous.

IndiGeek said...

I totally agree with having more Add Value Machines. Especially locations like Daly City BART. It is served by BART, SF Muni and SamTrans, all of which accept Clipper but still no add value machine. Ridiculous.

Akit said...

In the coming months, BART machines will be able to add Clipper value.