Transportation

Eleven Transit Agencies Join Clipper START

Eleven more Bay Area transit agencies today joined the Clipper START program, which allows lower-income adults age 19-64 to receive fare discounts ranging from 20% to 50% on most transit systems around the region. Beginning Monday, Jan. 25, riders with Clipper START cards will receive a 50% discount on SamTrans fares, and 20% discounts on AC Transit, County Connection, Fairfield and Suisun Transit (FAST), Napa VINE, SolTrans, Tri Delta Transit, Union City Transit, Vacaville City Coach, WestCAT and Wheels fares.

Clipper START was inaugurated in July 2020 with 50% off fares on Muni, Caltrain and select Golden Gate Transit and Ferry routes; and 20% off BART fares. Six additional transit agencies joined the program in November 2020, with Marin Transit, San Francisco Bay Ferry and SMART offering 50% fare discounts; and Petaluma Transit, Santa Rosa CityBus and Sonoma County Transit offering 20% off fares.

Clipper START is an 18-month pilot program initiated by Bay Area transit agencies and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) that uses the Clipper transit fare payment system to reduce the cost of transportation for adults whose household incomes are no more than twice the federal poverty level (for example, $52,400 for a family of four). This can be an important benefit, as transportation costs are a significant burden on many households, particularly during the current economic climate.

As MTC Chair Scott Haggerty noted at the time of Clipper START’s rollout last summer, "MTC has a long history of serving low-income residents through community-based planning and other programs. Clipper START is really expanding that commitment to make transit more affordable to a wider group of people. We’re excited to see how many will take advantage of this program."

Applicants to the pilot program can provide a copy of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card or Medi-Cal card, a county benefits eligibility letter, their Muni Lifeline card number, or a copy of their last federal tax return to demonstrate their eligibility. Once approved, they will receive a personalized Clipper card that must be loaded with cash value before use.

The Clipper START discounts are automatically applied whenever the card is used on participating transit agencies. Clipper START is not a transit pass — it is a program that offers discounts for single rides on the 21 participating systems. The card also can be used just like a standard Clipper card to pay for fares on any agency that accepts Clipper.

Riders interested in Clipper START can learn more about the program and apply online at clipperstartcard.com. The website guides customers through the application process, details what documents customers need to upload, and will save applicants’ progress to allow them to return later to complete the application if necessary.

MTC over the last several years has worked with its longtime Clipper card contractor, Cubic Transportation Systems, to develop the pilot program and to make application, verification and ongoing account maintenance (such as a lost card) a simple and straightforward process for lower-income riders.

MTC is the transportation planning, funding and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. MTC operates the Clipper system on behalf of the region’s transit agencies.