The number of Bay Area transit riders using the all-in-one Clipper transit card to pay fares on buses, trains and ferries rose 43 percent in the past month, fueled in part by the elimination of some paper passes, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
An average of more than 320,000 passengers are now using the card, up 95,000 riders from last month.
The San Francisco Municipal Railway, or Muni, with the largest chunk of Clipper users, accounted for almost half of the ridership.
During the week ending Nov. 19, Muni recorded 177,000 boardings, up 64,000 trips over mid-October levels, according to the MTC, which is the Bay Area’s regional transportation planning organization.
The meteoric rise was came after Muni forced some passengers to convert to the electronic payment method on Nov. 1 when it phased out the paper version of its popular “A” Fast Pass, which can also be used to pay for BART trips within city limits.
BART riders made the second-largest contribution to the overall Clipper statistics with 89,150 weekday boardings, according to the MTC.
In third was Alameda-Contra Costa Transit, with an average of 40,825 Clipper boardings on a given weekday.
More changes encouraging Clipper use are on the way for BART and AC Transit users.
Starting Thursday, BART customers will be able to use Clipper to pay for parking. By Dec. 15, BART will no longer accept its EZ Rider card for fare payment, although those cards will still be accepted at select stations to pay for parking.
AC Transit is phasing out its paper adult 31-day passes and 10-ride tickets by the end of the month, although the agency stopped selling paper tickets Nov. 1.
Clipper is currently accepted on six transit systems, including Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit & Ferry, and Dumbarton Express, which is an extension of AC Transit’s service.
Beginning Dec. 15, SamTrans customers will be able to use the cards, and the service will be available to approximately 90 percent of Bay Area transit users once the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority joins the Clipper network early next year.
Customers can obtain Clipper cards directly from transit agencies or at hundreds of local retailers, including Walgreens stores, or online at www.clippercard.com.
Patricia Decker, Bay City News