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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Add Value on Clipper Cards at All VTA Light Rail Stations

Golden Gate Ferry and Clipper: NEVER pay full price for ferries. Sorry tourists, locals rule the Bay. The news about Clipper cards these days is relatively slow, but there's always small projects that should get some attention like this from the folks at VTA.

In a recent press release: All VTA light rail station automated ticketing machines can now add Clipper card value utilizing cash, debit, and credit cards.

The machines are now able to do all Clipper types of add value, including e-cash, VTA passes, and other agency passes such as Muni, Caltrain, and AC Transit.

What's interesting about the modified add value machines is that a passenger must drop their card in a small container to make the Clipper card add value purchase; versus other transit agencies where one must tag their card to initiate the process, and tag one more time to complete the purchase and update the card's information.

The South Bay has had a big problem with the lack of Clipper add value locations before it was mandatory on July 1, 2012 for all pass users to convert to Clipper only.  The only locations in the South Bay was limited to a handful of in-person vendors and the VTA office.  The addition of 62 light rail stations and their ticketing machines expands the number of places for passengers to add value to their Clipper card.

Even though it's exciting to have additional Clipper card add value locations, they still can't issue new cards.

Now... onto getting those Caltrain ticket machines modified... if they ever will.

For a description of how to add value at a VTA machine, click here (PDF).


Mel said...

I normally use the BART add value machines at Millbrae, but yesterday I didn't have time to because my Caltrain was pulling into the station, so I decided to try the Clipper add value machines at the Mountain View VTA instead. I just needed to add $2.00, but was disappointed to discover that the VTA machines only allow you to add cash in set amounts - $5.00 is the minimum. I also had problems with two of the machines themselves: #1 reported that it would accept bills and coins, but rejected all my coins anyway; #2 reported it would accept coins only, no bills; and luckily #3 actually worked for me and cleaned me out of my coffee money to meet the $5 minimum. Still, it's nice to have the machines available to folks in that area.

On a side note, the Clipper card has to be placed on a strange card reader with a ledge during the entire transaction, which makes me nervous that someone might grab it and run off with it while I fumble. Just my $0.02.

Mel said...

Addendum: I also discovered that the Palo Alto Caltrain station has a Clipper add value machine that doesn't appear to be listed on the Clipper website's location search. This machine's add value minimum is $20! Fortunately I only needed to load an 8-Ride. You would think there would be an option to add just the $1.25 minimum for Caltrain, but no, of course not.