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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

BART Wants You to Use Clipper (or pay the price at end of the year)

MTC's threat to put sanctions on BART for failure to transition to Clipper has forced the transit agency to make some big changes in the next five months.

By the end of this year, all BART adult high value discount tickets (HVD), red youth/disabled tickets, and green senior tickets must go Clipper only.

But while you may think this is all just one big crazy transition, it's not so bad for the young, old, and disabled; just the adults gets screwed over.

Blue Adult High Value Tickets
The end goal is all adult HVDs must be on a Clipper card, and that means you will need a Clipper card and enroll in the HVD program. A Clipper card customer must register their credit card with Clipper. When the HVD reaches a certain dollar threshold, your credit card is charged to reload a predetermined amount of HVD money into your card. Be warned, the HVD money doesn't cross over to be used as payment for Muni, AC Transit, Golden Gate, Caltrain, and any other agency; a passenger wanting to have a HVD and ride other agencies must load e-cash at a BART station or any Clipper retailer.

If you don't want to mess with HVDs, just use e-cash.

Red Youth/Disabled and Green Senior Tickets
This won't be so bad for these three groups of people. A person must register for a youth or senior Clipper card, or a RTC Discount Card with Clipper technology inside the card. When an eligible passenger enters BART, they just use their e-cash and will automatically get the discount just like the red and green tickets. Lucky for them, they don't need to have a separate pool of money to be used only on BART, they get the convenience of using the e-cash purse that is universal and good on all transit agencies. This switch also benefits them by not needing to visit a retailer to by the red or green tickets, they just go to any BART station's ticketing machine and can load funds on their card right there.

Akit's Opinion
While youth, seniors, and the disabled will have an easier time with paying for their rides and reloading their cards at any BART station ticketing machine, adults get screwed over by being forced to sign-up for automatic reloading if they want to use BART HVD (unless they just want to use e-cash only). I'm hoping one day, adult passengers will have the option to use the automated machines and be allowed to purchase BART HVDs to their cards.

One big thought would be to just have BART kill HVDs and go with the similar concept that Golden Gate Transit does, give all adult e-cash passengers the same discount. In BART's case, all passengers will save 6.25% when paying with Clipper & e-cash; it would only mean $2 for every $30 spent. Like I said in my earlier post, lets make it much more simpler. In the long run, BART saves money because they don't have to pay that much in maintenance costs for ticketing machines and gates because the magnetic stripe tickets are used less often.


murphstahoe said...

BART saves money because they don't have to pay sanctions... :)

The 800 lb gorilla in the room - with all the various products, they are spending a lot more on customer support than they should need to.

Anonymous said...

If only I could use my Commuter Checks to buy HVD BART tickets. When the heck are they going to make that happen?? With BART fares going up up up I want to be able to get all the discounts I can. My work is not going to transition to non-paper commuter checks any time soon.

Akit said...

You could ask your employer for a Commuter Check debit card. You can link it to your Clipper card account to automatically renew your HVD BART tickets; but there's a risk, if you run out of Commuter Check money on the card when the HVD renews, you are screwed.

Anonymous said...

My employer won't give me a commuter debit card either. This is effectively a fare increase for people in my situation! Either use a credit card and don't get the pre-tax savings, or use e-cash and don't get the HVD discount!

Akit said...

Tell your employer the need for a debit card. Others with Commuter Check can get one (including myself), why can't your company?