1276783468clipper card.jpgThousands of BART riders Thursday might not have been able to use their EZ Rider cards, a Clipper Card-like payment system that BART previously warned it would cancel this month.

BART officials this morning began phasing out the service’s EZ Rider cards and making them unusable, potentially alienating some 41,000 riders that still use the cards, according to a BART November meeting agenda.

Officials initially intended to terminate EZ Rider cards in October, but fears surfaced that there could be technical issues with its replacement, the Clipper Card, 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.
EZ Rider cards might still work today, but the final phase-out day will be Dec. 22, according to officials.

Riders who still have money on their cards can access their accounts online and read more from their accounts about how to request a refund of the balance.

Clipper Cards are accepted on seven transit systems, including Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit & Ferry, and Dumbarton Express, which is an extension of the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District’s service.

Effective today, San Mateo County Transit District customers will be able to use the Clipper Cards (Actually, Akit points out that Clipper’s launch on SamTrans has been quietly delayed by one week, to Dec 22 — EB), 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 in early 2011.

Customers can obtain Clipper cards directly from transit agencies or at hundreds of local retailers, including Walgreens stores, or online at www.clippercard.com.

Saul Sugarman, Bay City News

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