BART floats Clipper cards for low-income riders

BART is attempting to get Clipper cards in the hands of low-income riders before a 50-cent surcharge on paper tickets kicks in on Jan 1, 2018.

Three BART board directors heard a proposal on Tuesday from staff on how the transit agency plans to hand out free Clipper cards to low-income riders through Bay Area community organizations.

A Clipper card costs $3 to buy online and in stores, but the fee is waived if a person gets a card online and sets up the autoload feature.

BART is planning to set up to 23 promotional events in several stations in low-income communities and also events with community organizations where BART staff will hand out free Clipper cards. Staff will be on hand to assist people on how to use Clipper and how register the card online.

Registering the card online is not a requirement to get a free card, but is encouraged because if the card is lost or stolen, the value on the card is secured.

BART’s proposal also includes to distribute Clipper cards to community organizations and have organizers hand out cards to community members.

The promotional events will last through March 2018 and the distribution of Clipper cards to community organizations will be ongoing, according to BART documents.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which administers the Clipper card program, agreed to give BART the Clipper cards for free.

BART will provide a list to the MTC of community organizations that the transit agency would like to include as part of plan.

The MTC will provide BART with reports on Clipper usage and reload values of the distributed cards.

BART staff said they will keep track to see if there is a decrease in paper ticket usage at BART stations in low-income communities and an increase of Clipper usage in those same communities.

The transit agency will also look at the number of trips taken with the distributed cards.

In June, the BART of Board of Directors approved a Title VI Fare Equity Analysis despite the analysis citing that the 50-cent surcharge may affect low-income riders. The analysis is a Federal Transit Administration requirement when transit agencies decide to change fare pricing.

The BART of Board of Directors plan to vote on the proposal at its Sept. 14 meeting. Once approved, implementation of the plan will take place in October, according to BART.