Clipper® START makes Bay Area transit more affordable for more low-income riders

Clipper Start
Noah Berger

MTC and Bay Area transit agencies today announced announced the expansion of the Clipper® START pilot program — which provides transit-fare discounts for lower-income adults age 19 to 64 — to include VTA buses and light-rail trains and to include a uniform 50% discount for rides on all systems that accept Clipper for fare payment. 

MTC and the transit agencies last summer extended the Clipper START pilot through June 30, 2025. The addition of VTA to the pilot and the move to an across-the-board 50% discount from the previous range of 20% to 50% off are expected to boost usage of the Clipper START card.

Clipper START began as an 18-month pilot program initiated in June 2020 by MTC and four transit agencies to reduce the cost of transportation for adults whose household incomes are no more than twice the federal poverty level (currently $60,000 for a family of four). The discount can be an important benefit, as transportation costs are a significant burden on many households. An additional 17 transit agencies joined the Clipper START pilot in late 2020 and early 2021, and the pilot period has now been extended twice.

“Joining the Clipper START program is yet another step in VTA’s commitment to the well-being of our community,” said VTA General Manger/CEO Carolyn Gonot. “By offering this lower-cost option, we’re providing riders throughout Santa Clara County improved access to public transportation to take to jobs, schools and other important destinations.”

“Clipper START is an important tool that helps bridge the gap toward more affordable transit for those who most need that access,” MTC Executive Director Andrew Fremier said. “The transit agencies’ adoption of a blanket 50% discount demonstrates their seriousness about making transportation more equitable for more people across the Bay Area.” 

BART General Manager Bob Powers reinforced this point.

“BART is proud to be part of this unified effort to offer low-income riders more cost-conscious fares and to create more connected communities," he said. "We encourage those eligible who already ride BART to take advantage of the opportunity, and we look forward to meeting new riders who see the reduced fare as a more affordable way to travel.” 

Bay Area Transit Agencies Participating in the Clipper START Discount Program:

  • SFMTA (Muni)
  • BART
  • AC Transit
  • VTA
  • Caltrain
  • SamTrans
  • Golden Gate Transit & Ferry
  • San Francisco Bay Ferry
  • County Connection
  • Dumbarton Express
  • FAST
  • Marin Transit
  • Petaluma Transit
  • Santa Rosa CityBus
  • Soltrans
  • Sonoma County Transit
  • Tri Delta Transit
  • Union City Transit
  • Vacaville City Coach
  • VINE
  • WestCAT
  • Wheels

MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. The Commission operates the Clipper transit-fare payment system on behalf of the region’s transit agencies. MTC and its transit agency partners encourage residents to apply for Clipper START today. More information about the program, qualifications, and available discounts is available at

Submit your comment

In order to receive a reply to your comment, please provide an email address.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.