Monday: Clipper Executive Board set to approve business case study for regional fare integration

Would you like to pay the same fare to travel between San Francisco and San Jose, regardless of whether you travel on the right-hand side of the Bay or the left-hand side of the Bay?  When a City’s Planning Commissioners decide what transportation benefits will be provided to residents in a new housing development, do you want them to be able to provide a “transit pass”, rather than have to decide whether to provide a “train pass” or a “bus pass”?

These questions sound absurd, but they are absurd situations that exist today, and that a well-designed – and funded – program for regional fare integration could potentially fix.

Thankfully, it seems as though the transit agencies and Metropolitan Transportation Commission have worked out path forward, after a bit of a rocky start.

On Monday at 1:30pm, the Clipper Executive Board is set to move ahead with a business case study for regional fare integration.    The proposal would then be reviewed for funding approval by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in October. 

More good news:

  • The study scope of work proposes to include fare integration (which could solve the problems in the first paragraph), not just fare coordination (such as making sure all agencies use the same age for youth passes).
  • The study is proposed to include customer research – which is needed in order to understand what problems a fare integration system should solve
  • The staff have reached an agreement about a group to supervise the study – this would include the managers of the region’s top transit agencies, plus representatives of the county congestion management agencies that supervise the express lane corridors that could and should become great express bus routes that participate in regionally integrated transit

There are a few areas where the study scope could be tweaked to make it better:

  • The customer research is proposed to use *existing transit agency studies* for data gathering, and then research directly with customers to review the proposal.  It would be better to reach out to customers, including individual riders and institutional customers such as employers and cities BEFORE coming up with options to test, in order to identify the problems it would be helpful to solve.
  • It would be valuable for the study to have guidance from stakeholders who representing different groups riders, including major institutional customers such as major employers and cities crafting transportation policies; and advocates for various groups of transit riders and potential riders around the region
  • Lastly, it would be valuable to have processes such as workshops to continue to inform and engage policymakers on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Transit Agency boards.  Their understanding and championship will be needed to support the policies and funding that it will take to get recommendations implemented.

If you have a few moments, it can’t hurt to send a note to the Clipper Executive Board, making the points above, addressed to the attention of administrator Martha Silver at msilver@bayareametro.gov

  • Thank you very much for moving this forward, with goals for fare integration and customer research
  • Add a sentence about why you think integrated fares are important (make transit use more convenient, increase transit ridership, other things you’d value about integrated fares).
  • For best results from the study, please do up-front customer research to refine the problems that fare integration can help solve; and create a stakeholder group to inform the process and provide ideas from the perspectives of groups of riders

Or, if it’s convenient for you to get to San Carlos at 1:30pm on Monday, you can give public comment, at SamTrans/Caltrain HQ, 1250 San Carlos Avenue, San Carlos (a few minutes walk from the train station and ECR bus line). If you’re coming, send us a note at friends@friendsofcaltrain.com