Clipper, formerly TransLink, is a system that is supposed to make traveling on the five Bay Area transit systems (Muni, BART, AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit and Caltrain) easier. Unfortunately, as the number of Clipper users has grown, so have the number of complaints about it.
With 93,000 reported users per day — more than triple the amount from last year’s 27,000 — the Clipper card system has come under a tremendous strain. Designed to make passengers’ traveling experience better by eliminating the use of multiple passes and cash for those who use more than one transit system, the preloaded Clipper system has suffered problems that range from malfunctioning readers to erroneous charges to passengers’ accounts for free transfers.
Disappointed riders post their rants on many Bay Area blogs, including the popular Muni Diaries. The most common problems are malfunctioning readers on buses, especially on Muni buses. In some cases, bus riders were asked to pay in cash when the clocks on the readers wouldn’t work. This becomes a problem for already cash-strapped riders or those with no cash on hand. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has instructed its operators to treat a malfunctioning card reader as a broken fare box and allow Clipper riders to board without additional payment.
The Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) is aware of the problems with clocks on card readers in buses where some are running too fast while others are too slow. The MTC hopes to correct these problems soon.
Most Clipper transactions go smoothly. Some riders find the Clipper card easy to use and very convenient. They no longer have to fumble for coins when riding on any of the five Bay Area transit systems. Nor do they need a separate transfer card to hop on to another system. The only thing they need to do is make sure that they have the Clipper card with them and that it has enough value charged to it.