For Immediate Release
Clipper Card Fee Questions & Answers
August 20, 2012
Why are Clipper cards going to cost $3?
- Clipper cards cost about $3 to produce, and since the program is publicly funded, we are charging a fee to offset the cost of producing the cards so as to serve as a good steward of taxpayer dollars. .
- The whole point of the Clipper card program is to replace disposable paper passes with the reloadable, durable Clipper card that can be used again and again. The fee encourages customers to keep and reload their cards, The reloadable and reusable card is consistent with MTC’s broader environmental goals. Clipper is also more secure than paper passes, since lost or stolen cards can be replaced and the balance restored.
- The fee prevents abuse of Clipper’s “negative balance feature.” Clipper allows a customer to take a trip even if the fare is greater than the remaining cash balance on their card. This is a customer service benefit that assists a customer who may be rushing to catch a bus or train. Once a card has a negative cash balance, the customer must add cash value before using the card again. Some customers have realized that this feature could be abused, and they have purposefully not reloaded their cards when the balance goes below $0.00, and instead simply gotten new cards. Charging a fee for new cards will reduce the ability to evade paying appropriate fares.
Does charging a fee eliminate the fraud problem?
- The fee is one part of MTC’s solution to reducing fraud. Because 60% of the trips where customers’ balances go below $0.00 are taken on the BART system, MTC has approved funding to upgrade the BART Add Fare machines (located inside the paid areas of station) to enable customers to add value to their Clipper cards before exiting at their destination station. This improvement will be completed in 2013, after which Clipper customers will not be able to exit a BART station without paying the full fare for their trip; this will make the paper ticket and Clipper card policies consistent.
Is the fee a deposit?
- No, the fee is not a deposit. Clipper allows customers to get cards without providing name and contact information; accordingly, Clipper would not have a way to return the deposit to all customers.
How will MTC use the revenue from the fee?
- MTC will use the revenue collected from customers to fund the future production of additional Clipper cards.
Who is affected by the new fee?
- Only customers getting a new adult Clipper card will have to pay the fee.
- Youth and senior Clipper cards are always free, and Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Clipper cards — for passengers with qualifying disabilities — have always cost $3, as set by RTC program policy.
What if you lose your card? Will it cost $3 to replace it?
- If a customer loses a card with value, he or she can have it replaced with its value restored for a $5 fee.
Have Clipper cards always been free?
Before June 2010, cards cost $5. MTC waived the card fee when transit agencies began phasing out their paper transit tickets and passes in order to shift customers to Clipper®. Now that the transitions of these agencies’ passes and tickets to Clipper are nearly complete, MTC determined that charging a fee again is the best way both to encourage customers to keep and reload their cards.
Why is the fee $3?
- Before June 2010, the fee was $5. MTC conducted focus groups with community partners and with representatives of low-income, minority and limited English proficient communities and determined that $3 presented an incentive to keep the card while at the same time posing the smallest barrier to low-income individuals.
What about people who cannot afford a $3 fee?
- Transit riders can always pay cash or purchase a paper BART ticket.
- MTC and transit agencies will continue to offer promotions where customers can get free cards.
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