Caltrain CAC Wednesday – MTC starting to take feedback on Clipper 2.0

Do you want Clipper to be better? This month, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and transit agencies are starting to make presentations and take feedback on a major initiative to upgrade the Clipper system.  The contract for Clipper expires in 2019, and MTC plans to gather requirements for the next-generation system by the end of this year.  Wednesday April 16, there will be a presentation at the Caltrain Citizens’ Advisory Committee – at 5pm, before the start time of the CAC meeting at Caltrain/Samtrans HQ at 1250 San Carlos Street in San Carlos.

So far, the ideas on the table seem to be relatively modest. The biggest idea is a standard 50 cent transfer for customers who transfer from one operator to another, along with a 25 cent transfer credit for youth and senior/disabled customers. Another proposal is to harmonize the eligibility for youth fares. Currently, agencies define the age range differently – the MTC is proposing a consistent age range from 5 to 18 years (Muni and VTA currently go up to 17).

A Clipper upgrade could potentially be an opportunity to integrate fares and transfers across the region, with features like a regional day pass and regional month pass which capped maximum fares and rewarded heavy transit users.    The challenge is compounded for large employers, large developments, and for cities that are starting to take responsibility for mode share in key growth areas and downtowns. They typically have customers who use a variety of transit systems, and need to purchase bulk transit passes separately, agency by agency.  There is an opportunity to provide coordinated bulk purchase programs that help increase ridership, reduct traffic and parking costs, and provide stable revenue for transit agencies.

Also, a Clipper upgrade could potentially be used to provide integrated payment for the growing number of first and last mile services.  Currently, Clipper cards can be used for car parking at 5 San Francisco garages.  Imagine if Clipper could be used for carshare, rideshare, bikeshare, bike lockers – and other emerging services that are helping riders make their first and last mile connections?

Egon Terplan, Regional Planning Director at SPUR, a think tank which has been studying the need for Bay Area regional transit integration believes that Clipper 2.0 is a big opportunity to move towards fare, transfer (and schedule) coordination. But the MTC efforts do not yet seem geared toward much greater integration.

The requirements gathering process is currently focused on transit agencies, rather than customers.  There are three committees advising the MTC – an Executive Committee comprised of General Managers and the MTC Executive Director; a Steering Committee and the Long Range Planning Committee are working committees comprised of various levels of MTC and operator staff.   Not yet included in the outreach – major customer stakeholders such as large employers and city-based TMAs and transit rider organizations.

Currently, Clipper can be used on AC Transit, BART, Caltrain, Golden Gate, Muni, SamTrans, VTA, and is being rolled out across the region’s smaller agencies.

Earlier this month, the progress report on  Clipper 2.0 was delivered to the VTA board (April 3) and the VTA Citizens’ Advisory Commitee (April 9).   There is likely to be a BART board agenda item on April 24.

Do you want Clipper 2.0 to do more? Come to the Caltrain CAC meeting if you can, sign this petition, and watch for more opportunities to take action.