1276783468clipper card.jpgDespite promises to debut the Clipper Card program on Wednesday, officials at San Mateo County Transit and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission have quietly delayed its use on Bay Area SamTrans services until Dec. 22, an MTC spokesman said.

Software issues have delayed the program, which allows riders to access at least seven public transit services across the Bay Area, on SamTrans for another week, MTC spokesman John Goodwin said.

“SamTrans will likely continue to place hoods over the Clipper Card readers until next week,” he said.

Goodwin said crews still have to upload software onto card readers on SamTrans buses, which serve San Francisco, Palo Alto, and San Mateo County.

The software upload should start on Monday and finish by Wednesday, he said.

Goodwin couldn’t say why the upload was delayed and said he was unaware of any announcement that will be made about the postponement.

“SamTrans is scheduled to begin a campaign surrounding the use of Clipper on their system early in 2011,” he said.

On Wednesday, BART began transitioning toward Clipper Cards by phasing out its EZ Rider cards, a Clipper Card-like payment system that BART previously warned it would cancel this month.

Officials initially intended to terminate EZ Rider cards in October, but fears surfaced that there could be technical issues with its replacement, the agenda said.

Clipper Card users in November reported receiving “tagging errors” nearly 7 percent of the time while using the service, up from the 5 percent of errors reported in July, the agenda said. Tagging errors happen after a BART gate doesn’t admit a passenger after a card is placed flat against the card symbol on the gate.

Managers also wanted to give more time for riders to receive word that their cards would stop working.

“Our strategy for terminating EZ Rider is heavily dependent upon communication with our EZ Rider customers,” BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger said in the agenda.

The final phase-out day for the EZ Rider card will be on Wednesday, according to officials.

Clipper Cards will be available to approximately 90 percent of Bay Area transit users once the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority joins the Clipper network in early 2011.

Saul Sugarman, Bay City News

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