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Clipper cards experience growing pains

October 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Clipper card works on most Bay Area transit systems and it's is supposed to make mass transit easier for riders, but it still has growing pains and more changes are right around the corner.

The Clipper card is a prepaid plastic fare card accepted by major Bay Area transit systems including Muni, BART, and the Golden Gate ferries. No more searching for quarters or buying different passes for different agencies. Clipper launched in June and will phase out paper tickets.

"As of Oct. 15, we were averaging over 225,000 daily transactions on the Clipper program," Melanie Crotty from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission said.

But that comes with growing pains as San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu called a hearing.

"I've had numerous concerns about technical issues, glitches with the fare gates. About customer service, lack of access for people who want to purchase the Clipper card," he said.

It's especially confusing for those who don't speak English.

"We're doing more, rolling out fact sheets to our customer service agents," Carter Rohan from Muni said.

For some riders the change is welcome.

"Nice to have the opportunity to switch between the services so readily," BART and Muni rider Maureen Singleton said.

At least it seemed that way until the Muni gates refused to open. We saw Jasmine Ledbetter put money on her Clipper card, but for some reason the system balked and the ticket agent had to step in.

One of the biggest challenges is coming Nov. 1 when the paper adult fast passes for rides on both Muni and BART will no longer be accepted. You have to transition to Clipper and very few people are ready.

"Right now a little over one-fourth of those individuals have actually transitioned over to the Clipper card system," Chiu said.

"I believe we are in a state of readiness; certainly not a perfect state, but I think it's time to move to the transition," Rohan said.


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