Clipper Card Cheaters Targeted With New Fare Rule

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A crackdown was scheduled for launch Tuesday to keep commuters from shortchanging transit agencies when using new Clipper fare cards.

KCBS’ Tim Ryan Reports:

The transit cards allow riders to pay for a trip on Muni, BART, Caltrain and other transit agencies with just one fare card.

Several months ago, it was revealed that riders could essentially shortchange the transit agencies by adding $2.00 to one of the cards, which were being distributed free of charge, and take a ride costing more than the $2.00 loaded on the card, discard the card without making good on the negative balance, then secure a new card. For example, a commuter could take an $8.00 ride for just $2.00, cheating the system out of $6.00.

The opportunity for scofflaws to engage in such behavior, however, seemed short-lived. Beginning Tuesday, commuters would be required to add a minimum of $5.00 to a new Clipper card.

When the Clipper fare system was first launched, there was apparently very little exploitation of this glitch. Data suggested that the overwhelming majority of commuters used their cards repeatedly, indicating that they were replenishing low or negative balances.

However, after reports surfaced about the potential to cheat the system, scofflaw activity appeared to soar.

“Approximately 80% have been used for only a single trip,” John Goodwin with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission explained the data from December 2010. “So that’s a sign of people that are gaming the system.”

However, come Tuesday, that would apparently be much harder to do.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • yeahok

    is this going to apply to people who are taking the underground muni for just one ride? it’s only $2 so they’re going to have to pay $5 to ride muni?(remember that they get a free transfer good for 2 hours) that doesn’t make sense. i already have a fastpass so it doesn’t matter for me but what about visitors?

  • Frustrated Transit Rider

    Well ….. Well ….. Well ….. Of course when news of this was posted on “KCBS” and other web-based news sites that you could do this ….. of course people would take advantage of something like this. Now if the “MTC” would have just kept their big mouth shut ….. and web-site would not have posted such information …… perhaps this never would have happened. Yes, I believe in freedom of the press. But just like when I leave my house ….. I don’t blab to the whole world that I’m leaving ….. so that the “naughty low-llife forms” don’t rip me off. The same should have been applied in regards to how the Clipper cards work. HOWEVER …… I’m still waiting for the MTC to correct the situation of disabled riders who need an attendant, to have a seperate “attendant card” where the attendant can ride for the same discounted rate. Until that happens, I will continue to pay all of my fares in pennies and nickels just to delay the transit operators …… until the “MTC” makes such channges to the Clipper card.

  • blogfrombart

    Why don’t they fix the system with clipper first and make it robust?
    I don’t think anyone wants to cheat clipper for a few dollars. Why not ask minimum of $6 or $8 which ever is the maximum one had to pay in one trip.

    There are millions of bugs in the clipper system. Wish they fix all of them.

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