How to Scam BART With Your Clipper Card

Riders discover the card can "go negative"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    flickr.com/juniorvelo
    A Clipper Card scam allows riders to ride for free.

    Transportation on the cheap has never been better. A loophole in the new Clipper Card system makes it possible to ride for free.

    Basically, just load the minimum $2 onto a new Clipper Card, then ride BART anywhere you want. Sf.streetsblog.org breaks it down if you want to learn exactly how the scam works.

    Because the card allows users to ride on credit, you can rack up a bill riding all over town, then just toss that card and get a new one.

    The feature was programmed in to help riders who needed to get somewhere, but were unable to add money to their cards at that moment. The balance can be paid off later.

    "It's a built-in convenience to the system, based on the goodwill that people will re-load their card," said John Goodwin, a Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesperson.

    The card gives users access to a variety of transit agencies, including Muni, BART, AC Transit, Caltrain and Golden Gate Transit and Ferry. But the scam works best when riding BART because there aren't any inspectors to check the card.

    BART Spokesman Linton Johnson said they were aware of the issue, calling it "Clipper's dirty little secret."

    In August 2010, there were only 152 cards out of 100,000 that were only used one time. And in October, just five percent of 247,700 cards in use had a negative balance, according to Goodwin.