7 On Your Side

Some riders aggravated with Clipper cards

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Bay Area's new all in one transit card is proving to be a popular option. It can be used on five of the Bay Area's major transit agencies and the average daily Clipper usage has doubled to 120,000 in just a few months. But the launch hasn't been without a few problems.

John Steen figured he could save a few bucks using his Clipper card. His monthly pass gets him on Muni and BART for the price of just riding Muni.

"It's been not going too well. I just got it for the beginning of September and over the weekend, three out of four days going on the bus, the card didn't work at all," he said.

Riders pre-load their Clipper cards with cash and swipe the card over a reader.

"We have experiences where some customers, their cards aren't reading the reader," Paul Rose from San Francisco Muni Transit Authority said.

John says most of the time the drivers just wave him through, but once the driver asked him to pay cash.

"I said, 'why should I have to pay $2? I have $70 on my card,'" he said.

Muni says drivers are being instructed to let clipper riders through when the readers aren't working.

"We're not asking them to pay additional funds to use our system if the equipment is broken," Rose said.

Anna Kaminska says she's been billed for transfers that should have been free. Riders are normally allowed to transfer to as many buses and trains as they like within 90 minutes of their first boarding.

"I see on the device, uhe device shows you you're being charged and I also can download my transaction history and I see that I'm charged," she said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission confirmed to 7 On Your Side that inaccurate clocks on the readers are to blame.

"These clocks are either running too fast or too slow and that presents a problem for customers who want to make a transfer and it appears their transfer may have timed out," John Goodwin from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission said.

An inquiry by Clipper has found at least 45 buses have readers with clock problem, and refunds will be given on a case-by-case basis.

Adding to the frustration for some is poor customer service.

"I talk to different people, I get different names and I get different case numbers of the same problem and the thing doesn't move. If it moves, it moves very, very slowly," Kaminska said.

"We recognize that not every customer is getting necessarily the service from the representatives that they deserve to have and should expect to have, and we're working to solve that problem as well," Goodwin said.

The MTC also tells us about 6,000 riders added value to their cards, but it wasn't reflected right away. The software glitch has been fixed.

One bit of good news -- you can get a Clipper card without paying the $5 administrative fee through June 2011. That little quirk had been expected to expire at the end of the summer.

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Tags:
transportation, muni, BART, SFMTA, 7 on your side, michael finney
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