Photo by Mark Nakamura
Starting March 1, Muni is increasing the minimum add-value requirement on Clipper cards from $2 to $5 to prevent riders from taking advantage of loophole that allows you to board the bus even when your card goes negative. This applies to Clipper adult fare customers. From the SFMTA:
The new minimum add-value requirement is $5 or a fare product, e.g. an adult Muni “A” or “M” Fast Pass®. The new policy does not affect the minimum requirement on the Youth, Senior or RTC Clipper cards, which is currently $.75.
The new minimum requirement generally only applies to customers who are purchasing a new Adult Clipper card and want to add cash value at the time of purchase.
At the Muni Metro ticket vending machines (TVM), however, whether purchasing a new Clipper card or reloading an existing Clipper card, Muni adult fare customers are subject to the minimum $5 requirement, regardless of the current value on the existing card. Muni Metro customers who do not wish to pay this $5 minimum may instead purchase a single or round trip regular adult fare Limited Use Muni Ticket out of the TVM.
The minimum requirement doesn’t apply to customers with existing Clipper cards who want to reload cash value at Clipper card retailers, the Clipper website, or the add-Value machines at AC Transit or Golden Gate Ferry locations.
Will this deter fare scammers? Akit at Akit’s Complaint Department thinks SFMTA should do more. “This is not enough to stop the abuse by raising the minimum e-cash to $5 for a new card. Caltrain and BART passengers that ride long distances can still exploit the Clipper card’s negative balance by getting a ton of free cards with the minimum balance of $5 required to obtain a card,” he writes.