SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – It turns out a Clipper card feature that lets riders who are unexpectedly short on fare exit the station and pay later isn’t set up in a way so that the rider must eventually pay up.

Exit BART without enough money on the card, and the Clipper card will show a negative balance. Throw that card away, and all it takes to buy a new one is $2 in cash.

John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said only 6,000 of the nearly 250,000 Clipper cards issued since the rollout “went negative.”

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Since the transit cards are usually linked to a credit card or bank account for automatic reloads, most made up the difference probably without realizing there was a loophole that makes a BART ride anywhere in the system so cheap.

“These are regular customers. If they go negative, they reload their card. They essentially pay back the loan that has been given them from the Clipper system,” he said.

Now that the word is out, Goodwin said transportation officials are watching the numbers to see if more people are trying to game the system.

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Comments (5)
  1. Todd says:

    Could anybody show me the way to cheat out the Fastrac for the bridge? How about the combination to the safe at the bank. What idiot would report this to the public. Watch the numbers, they are about to explode!!!!

  2. Ann Elliott says:

    I am curious about the backroom discussion your fellow newscasters had as to whether or not tell this story. It was wrong, and debases your reporting stature. Whose side are you on, MUNI or scofflaws. Shame on all of you.

  3. cheater says:

    works on when transfering to muni too. Must be same day take a $1.75 bart trip then tag on muni you get 90 mins in the system and a balence of -$1.75

  4. Doofus says:

    MTC and the transit agencies deserve exactly what they get from this cluster f**k. It’s a perfect example of penny wise and pound foolish. A fourth grader could have figured out that you cannot allow people to exit BART with a negative fare balance unless they are on some kind of auto-load system where you have their ATM/credit card information already on file. The chowderheaded planners at MTC tried to stretch Clipper into being both a single use and multi-use fare card, while not opting for necessary system safeguards (such as an inside the gates Clipper addfare system). “We thought people would be HONEST” they now say. Total BALDERDASH. People should be losing their jobs over this, but what do you figure the odds are for that? I hope the maximum number of people start taking advantage of this loophole as long as it lasts. Criticizing the media for letting the “dirty secret” out is shooting the messenger.