Get ready for a long goodbye to Clipper cards

clipper card by akit

It seems just like yesterday (actually, six years ago) when we bid farewell to colorful paper Fast Passes and welcomed Clipper Cards into our lives, but as the Ingleside-Excelsior Light reports, it’s already time to prepare yourselves to part ways with your little blue fare cards. Clipper card’s contract with Muni ends in 2019, and the agency is drafting a wish list that new technology could address.

Diana Hammons, revenue manager at MTA, updated the Citizen Advisory Council on issues in the current system such as the 3–5 day wait after loading cash onto the card online, and other problems that have existed since the 1990s, when the system was first installed.

More from the Ingleside-Excelsior Light:

In response to considerations like these from all of the transit systems, the Municipal Transportation Commission, which manages the Clipper system, is drafting a Concept of Operations, or what Hammons called a “dream system list.”

Other items on the list included demand based pricing, real time fares—every bus is connected and sends transaction information immediately—and more flexibility with fares. However, Hammons cautioned, incorporating too many features might bog down the system by making it too complicated.

The new system should address some of these big technical issues, and maybe even look a little prettier while we’re at it. For you nostalgic types, here is a look at Fast Passes through the years.

H/t: SFist, Muni rider Matt

Photo by Agent Akit

20 comments

  • Karen

    “Demand-based pricing”? As in surge pricing? For public transportation, with no guarantee of a seat. NOPE NOPE NOPE. This shouldn’t even be on a wishlist. What a stupid, horrible, anti-public idea.

  • How about using NFC and your phone for this? Just like the London underground does with Apple Pay.

  • Montira

    Demand-based pricing? What does that mean? The fare for MUNI could fluctuate daily, depending on many people are on all the buses and street cars? And then they’re going to allow MUNI Operators to (continue to) pack each bus and streetcar so that they look like sardine cans on wheels?

  • I like the cross-compatibility of clipper. Please don’t change it. I don’t like the idea of dynamic fares either.

  • Susan

    But what about all the other bay area transit systems? The benefit of clipper is one card – regardless of bus, train, ferry!

    Another thing on the wish list – the ability to have our various company benefits loaded at NO COST onto the cards… I still get a check from wage works each month I have to take to Walgreens to apply to my card as I don’t think I should have to pay for this service by Clipper Card……

    Only Muni could think about screwing this up!

  • But what about all the other bay area transit systems? The benefit of clipper is one card – regardless of bus, train, ferry!

    Another thing on the wish list – the ability to have our various company benefits loaded at NO COST onto the cards… I still get a check from wage works each month I have to take to Walgreens to apply to my card as I don’t think I should have to pay for this service by Clipper Card……

    Only Muni could think about screwing this up!

  • I hope the replacement cards will be NFC readable on my phone like the Clipper. I like checking my card’s value and ride history via NFC — it’s another way to check the time of the Muni 90-minute period if I lose track. LA’s Tap Cards do not come up on NFC.

  • “Demand based pricing”? GTFO & STFU SFMTA.

  • So how the fuck I’m suppose to get muni and Bart fast pass in one?

  • And who’s to say clipper won’t adopt said technologies? This is three years out…

  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I never have any problems with my Bay Area Clipper Card. Seamless. I swear, it’s like SFMTA | San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency looks for problems.

  • I’m not overly fond of Clipper’s data retention policy. They keep customer travel data for far too long.

    I’m also not overly fond of their charges for card replacement.

    The nature of the vendor contract with San Francisco being what it is, there is little or no innovation. For example, why can’t I use my smartphone to pay my fare?

  • Martin Atkins

    The only wish list item I have is one that no single agency would ever ask for: unified fares across all bus operators in the bay area, with universal 90 minute transfers between operators and the Clipper system to automatically assign portions of the fare to the relevant agencies, without the rider knowing the difference.

    Just think of those confused tourists on the Golden Gate Bridge trying to understand why they have to pay again to ride that Golden Gate Transit bus. Why doesn’t the system just make that work for them and let the different agencies compete to provide the best routes and levels of service?

  • Seriously. Are they still proposing this ? Sonoma County just got on board with Bay Area Clipper. Why does Muni have to go against the grain… do stupid shit ( buy buses that don’t so hills, cuz we don’t have any of those here) and find some “”new tech”” that will take them 10 years to debug while the system in place is fine. It’s just plain LUDICROUS !

  • Peter

    Why can’t Clipper just renew its contract with Muni, permanently? The Fast Passes never had a contract with Muni (to my knowledge anyway); they just became phased out with the advent of more advanced, convenient technological fare payment methods. My other request is this: if demand-based pricing and more flexibility with fares are a must, then NO MORE ROUTINE FARE INCREASES, PERIOD! Muni can’t assume that riders (most of whom are in the low-income bracket to begin with) will get annual raises at our jobs every year so that we can afford higher daily fares for transfers, or monthly Muni-only or Adult Pass downloads on our Clipper cards.

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