Clipper Plagued by Weird Pricing

By Matt Baume
|  Friday, Nov 19, 2010  |  Updated 11:45 AM PDT
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Clipper Plagued by Weird Pricing

flickr.com/juniorvelo

A Clipper Card scam allows riders to ride for free.

The Clipper card's managed to shed most of the growing pains that stretched out its development over the last two decades. But a few roadbumps still remain.

Ferry riders are grumbling over revelations that the one-size-fits-all transit pass may come with a fare hike.

Currently, ferry riders get a 46 percent discount on their rides. But budget shortfalls mean that the cost of each ride could rise by around 50 cents. That's still only about half of what cash-paying customers face, but it's enough to bug some regular commuters.

The budget woes would likely also be accompanied by service cuts, saving about half a million dollars.

Meanwhile, BART has stated that it has no plans to close a loophole that allows riders to travel anywhere in the system for just two dollars. With a certain type of transit pass, riders can accrue a negative balance. Ordinarily, they wouldn't be able to exit the system unless they paid off the fare, but because there aren't enough add-value machines in all of the stations, the gates have been programmed to allow passengers to exit even if they haven't paid their share.

Currently, a couple hundred people exploit the feature every day.

BART is also wringing its hands over the transition from EZ Pass to Clipper. The system's old transit pass card is scheduled to be phased out in December, but so far not enough users have made the switch to Clipper. The BART Board fears that last-minute conversions could overwhelm station agents and customer service reps.

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