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Monday, February 20, 2012

Updates: Clipper Card Acceptance on Ferries & Napa-Solano, Union City, & Marin Buses

Greetings everyone! Yes, I'm alive after not blogging as regularly as I should. Things have been quite busy in my personal life for the past few weeks, from going on a diet to joining a bowling league and practicing at the lanes with my co-workers.

Let's get on with Clipper card news:

The MTC's Operations Committee met on Friday, February 17th to discuss new matters about Clipper.

Next Phase of Clipper
Clipper's next step is to expand into the smaller transit agencies. In their minutes from their previous meeting, it is expected the Bay Area ferries will be joining the Clipper card family as early as April 2012. The month mentioned did not say if there's any testing time or exactly when it will be available for public use.

The next transit agencies to join Clipper will be the Napa-Solano group, Union City Transit, and Marin Transit. They were chosen because of the limited amount of Clipper equipment remaining in their arsenal, and their connectivity to other participating agencies using Clipper; for example, Union City Transit connects to BART and AC Transit, two major companies part of the Clipper consortium. Clipper expects equipment to be installed in the next 8-9 months, and should be ready for public use by March or April 2013.

In other Clipper card news
The committee is seeking to approve a contract amendment of $30,000 to the contractors running the Embarcadero station's Clipper card kiosk (this would raise their annual contract to $1,087,100). Statistically, that particular location is the top seller of Clipper card value (e-cash), and with their secondary location at the Ferry Building, has sold over 26,000 new Clipper cards (more than half are youth & senior cards), and replaced over 9,000 inoperable cards. The MTC is considering to give them more money to increase their staffing levels and expand their service hours.

Lastly, Clipper is asking the MTC to approve some changes to the operating rules of Clipper. It's a huge document to read over and I don't know exactly what they are changing. One interesting and particular rule in the operating rules is on page 27 about fees: Clipper can charge a passenger a $5 fee for every second failed Autoload funding source when it is declined.

Akit's Opinions
I think it's going to take some time for new agencies to join the Clipper consortium. You are at least looking at one year just to get the next fleet of buses up and running; as for the ferries, I'd expect them to get ready for public usage by around late Summer or early Fall 2012.

For the 30K additional to run the customer service kiosks with more service hours is a good thing. The lines themselves are long and they are quite popular for the incompetent people who doesn't realize a good number of the kiosk's functions can be done quickly at a self-service machine just feet away from the kiosk.

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