"Akit is the man. He knows Clipper." (spenta)
"It’s a fantastic blog for any San Franciscan."
"Your blog is always on point, and well researched!" (Nina Decker)
"Everyone's favorite volunteer public policy consultant..." (Eve Batey, SF Appeal)
"You are doing a great job keeping on top of Translink stuff. Keep up the good work!"
(Greg Dewar, N Judah Chronicles)
"...I don't even bother subscribing anywhere else for my local public transportation info. You have it all..."
(Empowered Follower)
"If anyone at City Hall wants to make public transit better for all San Franciscans, it would be wise to follow Akit religiously...
or, better yet, give him a job."
(Brock Keeling, SFist)

Friday, August 19, 2011

What Now Clipper Card?

The Clipper card has grown a lot in just a matter of a year, especially with the absorbing of most paper passes to be on electronic form only. There's little changes here and there these days, but we haven't seen anything huge or at least I don't see any new progress as of late.

My concern is, how long until we get the smaller and private agencies to join the consortium? We currently have all the major transit agencies in the Bay Area using the universal card, why can't the card grow?

Ever since the birth of TransLink, Muni, BART, Golden Gate, AC Transit, VTA, and Caltrain was the first agencies to start the pilot program with very limited usage. It was over a decade until in 2010 and 2011 where SamTrans joined the group when the name was changed to the Clipper card.

But even then, where's the new growth? If we are to be truly a one card system, wouldn't it be fair that we include everyone, even the smallest agencies? When will Clipper expand to non public transportation realms such as paying for parking meters, city parking garages, and maybe your next snack at your local convenience store?

There is so much potential for the Clipper card to become even more helpful for our daily lives. Heck, the Japanese are kicking our asses because you can even order ramen out of a vending machine with the touch of your transit fare card.

I'm somewhat confident the folks at the MTC can push through and make it easier for citizens in the Bay Area to take public transit, but it seems Clipper's reputation is somewhat scarred. I still notice those who just thinks it sucks, and there's so much confusion and oddball policies (such as Caltrain's) that things won't get easier until people take action to make changes.

What will it take to clean-up Clipper? What will it take to expand the system? And what will it take to eliminate stupid policies that is either pointless (e.g. selling Muni ridebooks with no discount) or so complicated you'll want to pull your hair out (like Caltrain's idiotic monthly pass policy)?

I challenge the MTC to use their brains and push things along. If you want input from the people, ask the people what they want and give recognition to suggestions and changes on what is fair and good for the public. Convince transit agencies that change is a good thing:
  • Tell Caltrain to end the stupid 8-rides and go with an across the board 15% discount
  • Tell Muni to stop selling tokens on Clipper cards because it costs the same to ride if paid with e-cash.
  • Tell BART to start selling high value discount tickets for Clipper cards at all station ticket vending machines.
  • Make Caltrain stations have Clipper add value machines.
  • Offer people an 'all Bay Area' pass with unlimited access to all Bay Area transit agencies for one flat price, or offer a choice package where people can choose the agencies they need and the more they pick, the better the savings.
  • Offer e-cash paying passengers the opportunity to 'earn' a transit day pass after reaching a certain goal within 24-hours.
  • End the stupid $2 monthly fee to those who automatically loads their e-cash and/or passes via Commuter Check and similar employer programs.
  • Give people a decent incentive to use Clipper. New York gives a bonus to passengers who adds a certain amount to their MetroCard.
How long until MTC takes these ideas and runs with it? They do know they can withhold funds to agencies for not meeting goals (like when they threatened BART), so why not use it as leverage to make changes on behalf of the customers?


Sorry for rambling on, I just needed to vent today.


MiTEG said...

OK, maybe I'm dumb, but is it possible to add arbitrary amounts to a clipper card at Muni stations?

I have a couple of extra clipper cards for friends from out of town, and I hate adding cash value in $5 quantities. Each fare is $2, why would you make the add value multiplier 5?

Anonymous said...

Walgreens you can add any amounts you want

Anonymous said...

WestCat...are you listening?

murphstahoe said...

Caltrain Jitney!

Anonymous said...

IT is not a smaller transit provider issue. MTC is not allowing smaller providers to participate at this time as Cubic (contractor) fixes Clipper issues for the big guys. Fairfield and Suisun Transit in the north bay was set to implement Clipper, was offering to fully fund it themselves, and was told no by MTC. The ARRA money they had for the project had to be given back to Washington.

Smaller operators want Clipper, but MTC is overwhelmed at the moment.