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​Clipper is the commuter card used for commuting around the San Francisco Bay Area. Similar to the Oyster Card in London or the Pasmo Card in Tokyo, the Clipper Card can be used to electronically pay for your fare and obtain transfers good for connecting services. Many transit agencies even give generous discounts and transfer benefits when using Clipper, with some giving up to 20% off regular fares. Some agencies even encode monthly passes on the card, allowing frequent riders to use the card to travel around with less hassle. And since it is an integrated system, riders can use Clipper to travel by bus, ferry, or train throughout the region, from Santa Rosa to San Jose. 

What Can Be Added on a Clipper Card

Three different kinds of features can be added onto a Clipper card: transit cash, monthly passes, and parking cash.

  • Transit cash is an electronic cash value used to ride transit. Accepted at all agencies, transit cash allows you to board buses, trains, and ferries with a set or discounted fee. BART’s High-Valued Tickets (the blue card) is also treated as transit cash because fares are deducted once you exit the system.
  • Monthly passes are passes with a pre-determined cost that allow riders to use transit unlimited number of times without reducing a user’s transit cash value. Once a monthly pass is added onto a Clipper card, riders just have to swipe their cards onto a machine and the card reader will show how much longer the current pass is valid.
  • Parking cash is, similar to transit cash, an electronic cash value used to pay for parking. Independent of transit cash, parking cash is being tested at a few garages within San Francisco as a pilot program to determine its ability to pay for parking electronically (similar to FasTrak). More details here

Types of Clipper Card

Multiple types of Clipper card are available for the riding public to use.

Note: * – Some transit operators may require you to show valid identification as proof of age.

Regular Clipper Card (Blue)

  • Available to anyone
  • Charged as adult fare
  • Can be used for adult monthly passes
  • Can be purchased at various locations throughout the region, including Target, Transit Plus, and Walgreens (more below)
Regional Transit Connection Disabled Card (White, with Photo ID)

  • Available to anyone below 65 years old with qualifying disability
  • Charged as handicapped fare (with up to 62.5% discount off adult fares*)
  • Can be used for handicapped monthly passes
  • Requires in-person application for proper verification
Senior Clipper Card (White)

  • Available to riders 65 and better
  • Charged as senior fare (with up to 62.5% discount off adult fares*)
  • Can be used for senior monthly passes
  • A separate application is needed, alongside proof of age and identification
Limited-Use Clipper Card

  • Available with:
    • San Francisco Muni to access Muni Metro
    • Golden Gate Ferry
  • Can be used by anyone (make sure to select appropriate fare at a ticket vending machine before passing through the ticket gates)
  • Can be refilled at TVMs only and reused on continuing transit services
Youth Clipper Card (Blue)

  • Available to riders ages 5 to 18
  • ​Charged as youth fare (with up to 62.5% off adult fares*)
  • Can be used for youth monthly passes
  • A separate application is needed, alongside proof of age and identification
Special Edition Clipper Card

  • Limited availability only at a few retail locations and online stores (see below)
  • Charged as adult fare
  • Can be used for adult monthly passes

How to Use Clipper

Using Clipper is as simple as this:

  • Aim your Clipper card at a Clipper card reader.
    • On a bus or streetcar, it would be either on the right or left side upon boarding. (Picture at top right)
    • On BART, it would be on the white circle area on top (or side if handicapped or with luggage) of a fare gate. (Picture at middle right)
    • On Caltrain and ferries, it would be a freestanding Clipper machine on the platform.
    • On Muni Metro (underground stations), it would be on the circle area on the right side, at arm level. (Picture at bottom right)
  • Listen to the sound the machine produces when aiming your card onto a reader.
    • One beep: you’re good, and you can board (on BART and Muni Metro, the fare gates open)
    • Two beeps: if you hear this, you’re running short of e-cash and you are reminded to add cash value onto a add value machine (on BART), a ticket value machine, or a retailer.
    • Three short beeps: if you hear this, you cannot board a transit vehicle or continue through the fare gates for a number of reasons:
      • Low balance (some agencies set a minimum Clipper e-cash value before boarding, though others allow negative value upon exit)
      • Expired or invalid monthly pass
      • Autoload denied (more details about Autoload below)
    • If you hear the three short beeps, you can do the following:
      • Reload the card with extra cash at a retailer or ticket vending machine to allow immediate addition of funds and try again.
      • Call Clipper at 1-877-878-8883 and inquire if your Autoload went through or your monthly pass remains valid to determine what appropriate steps can be done to solve the problem.
      • If boarding a bus, tell the driver your situation and pay the appropriate cash fare to continue your journey.
  • Some transit agencies require riders to “tap in, tap out”, meaning you tap your card when you board and tap it again when you disembark. The reason for this is to deduct the appropriate fare from your e-cash depending on how far you’ve traveled. You will see which agencies deploy this method in a table below.

    • In other agencies, you only have to tap once when you board. No need to tap again when you exit as doing so will deduct additional fare.
  • If you tap in but forget to tap out before transferring to another transit vehicle or mode, you run the risk of paying the highest possible discounted fare instead of the appropriate fare.
    • For example, with Golden Gate: if I travel between San Rafael and Novato, the adult Clipper fare is $1.80; if I forget to tap off when I disembark from a bus, Clipper will charge me $11.00, which is the discounted fare between San Francisco and Santa Rosa. The same applies if I travel between San Francisco and anywhere in Marin County).

A few agencies, like San Francisco Muni, Caltrain, and the Santa Clara VTA, may conduct random fare checks on board their vehicles or upon getting off a vehicle. If it happens, bring your Clipper card to a handheld reader and the fare inspector will verify if you have paid your fare or a valid transfer or pass. If your card receives an error message, you may run the risk of paying a hefty fine for failing to pay the proper fare.

If you find a malfunctioning Clipper fare machine (e.g. it shows an “Out of Service” or “DC Not Responding” message), notify an operator immediately. Should it happen with a transit agency that has a “tap in, tap out” system, call the Clipper hotline, explain what happened, and allow a representative to adjust the fare for you so that you won’t pay the highest possible fare.

Transit Agencies That Accept Clipper

Since its inception in the mid-2000s as Translink, Clipper is now accepted in nearly twenty different agencies throughout the region.

Note: if you want to view the table below on your smartphone, turn it to landscape mode.

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Transit Agency
Fare Collection Method
Available Discounts and Credits
AC Transit
(also includes Dumbarton Express)
Tap once
  • Up to $0.10 off regular fares for local trips
  • From Golden Gate, passengers get a free ride on AC Transit local routes
  • From other agencies: Clipper cardholders need to have a monthly pass encoded to receive local fare credit
BART
Tap in, tap out
None
Caltrain
Tap in, tap out
Up to $0.55 off regular fares
County Connection
Tap once
  • Free transfer credit when switching from a Tri-Delta Transit or WestCAT bus
  • Up to $1 transfer credit when transferring from BART
FAST (Fairfield)
Tap once
  • ​Transfer credits available when switching from an AC Transit, Golden Gate, or WestCAT bus
  • When doing short-trips on Routes 30 or 40, pay in cash as tapping your card onto the machine will give you the full regional fare ($2.75 versus $5.75)
Golden Gate Ferry
Tap once+
  • ​Up to 47% off adult cash fares
  • Free fare for riders continuing to or from Larkspur Ferry feeder routes (Routes 25, 31, and 37)
Golden Gate Transit
Tap in, tap out
  • Up to 20% off regular fares
  • Transfer credits available when switching from multiple agencies – Details here
  • Free fare for riders on Larkspur Ferry feeder routes when continuing to or from Larkspur Ferry
Marin Transit
Tap in, tap out
Up to 10% off regular fares
Petaluma Transit
Tap once
Transfer credits available from Golden Gate Transit and Sonoma County Transit buses
SamTrans
Tap once
​Transfer credits available from various agencies, provided that you have a monthly pass enabled in the card (AC Transit, Caltrain, Dumbarton Express, and VTA)​
San Francisco Bay Ferry
Tap in, tap out+
None
San Francisco Muni
Tap once
  • Free Muni available to youths, seniors, and handicapped passengers
  • Multiple passes available to City residents that allow lower ride costs (details here)
  • Transfer credits available from Golden Gate Ferry, Golden Gate Transit, and SamTrans, up to $0.50
Santa Clara VTA
Tap once
  • Transfer credit available from BART for $0.50
  • Transfer credits of up to $0.50 available from AC Transit, Dumbarton Express, and SamTrans
Santa Rosa City Bus
Tap once
Free transfers available from Golden Gate Transit and Sonoma County Transit
Soltrans (Vallejo)
Tap once
Transfer credits available from AC Transit, FAST, Golden Gate, and WestCAT buses 
Sonoma County Transit
Tap in, tap out
Free transfers available from Golden Gate Transit and Sonoma County Transit for one-zone (local) fare
Tri-Delta Transit
Tap once
  • Free transfers for passengers switching from County Connection, WestCAT, and Wheels buses
  • From BART, passengers switching to Tri-Delta Transit buses get a local fare discount, then a free transfer to another bus (County Connection, Tri-Delta, WestCAT, and Wheels)
Vacaville City Coach
Tap once
Transfer credit available from FAST buses
VINE (Napa County)
Tap once+
  • Transfer credits available for riders coming from FAST, Golden Gate Transit, and Soltrans
  • Clipper fare on Route 29 is set between Del Norte BART and Napa; for service between Vallejo Ferry and Napa, pay in cash
WestCAT
Tap once
  • Free transfers available for riders from County Connection and Tri-Delta Transit
  • Transfer credits available for riders coming from FAST, Golden Gate Transit, and Soltrans buses
  • Passengers from BART switching to WestCAT get a local fare discount, then a free transfer to another bus (County Connection, Tri-Delta, WestCAT, and Wheels)
Wheels (Livermore)
Tap once
  • Free transfers available for riders from County Connection
  • Passengers from BART switching to Wheels get a local fare discount, then a free transfer to another bus (County Connection, Tri-Delta, WestCAT, and Wheels)

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Notes:

  • On Golden Gate Ferry, passengers have to tap their card once, based on where they board:
    • From San Francisco: tap on appropriate machine
    • From Sausalito: tap upon exit in San Francisco
    • From Larkspur: tap before boarding
  • With San Francisco Bay Ferry, a ferry employee will help you tap your card using a handheld card reader when you board or disembark at Pier 41 in San Francisco.​
  • Clipper is also accepted on Napa VINE’s subsidiaries (the driver will have a handheld Clipper card reader to deduct the appropriate fare), including:
    • American Canyon Transit
    • St. Helena Shuttle
    • Calistoga Shuttle

For Agencies That Do Not Accept Clipper

Passengers continuing to the following agencies will require a paper transfer or separate cash fare to continue traveling:

  • Altamont Commuter Express
  • Amtrak California
  • Highway 17 Express
  • Lake County Transit
  • Mendocino Transit Authority
  • Modesto Area Express
  • Monterey-Salinas Transit
  • Rio Vista Delta Breeze
  • San Benito Transit
  • San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD)
  • Union City Transit
  • Yolobus

Where is Clipper Not an Acceptable Payment Method?

Certain services do not accept Clipper as a payment method (along with their substitutes in parenthesis), including:

  • Chariot (mobile app)
  • Golden Gate Ferry services to AT&T Park (e-tickets)
  • Marin Transit’s Muir Woods Shuttle (cash or valid pass)
  • Paratransit services (cash or discounted tickets)
  • San Francisco Bay Ferry services to AT&T Park (e-tickets)
  • Santa Clara VTA Flex (mobile app)

Where to Get Your Clipper Card

You can get Clipper cards at the following locations:

Adult Clipper Card:

  • Clipper Customer Service Centers:
    • Embarcadero BART/Muni Metro
    • Bay Crossings, Ferry Building (San Francisco)
  • My Transit Plus stores:
    • Embarcadero BART/Muni Metro
    • Montgomery BART/Muni Metro
    • Powell BART/Muni Metro
    • Bay Fair BART
  • San Francisco Muni ticket outlets:
    • Powell & Market (near the cable car turnaround)
    • Geary & Presidio
  • Muni Metro ticket vending machines in San Francisco
  • Golden Gate Ferry ticket vending machines in San Francisco and Larkspur
  • San Francisco International Airport (multiple locations)
  • Target Express (Sansome & Bush in San Francisco)
  • Walgreens stores 
  • Whole Foods stores
  • Headquarters of participating transit agencies
  • Santa Clara VTA Downtown Service Center (W Santa Clara Street between First and Market)
  • Get Clipper online here

Note: a surcharge of $3 applies when buying a new adult Clipper card. If purchasing from a ticket vending machine, a minimum amount is required prior to use. Should you setup Autoload, Clipper will waive the $3 surcharge.

For Youth and Senior Clipper Cards:
​​Download the appropriate form and send it, along with your proof of age and any identification, to the address listed on the form.

For a Regional Transit Connection Clipper Card (handicapped only):
You will need to appear in person at your home transit agency and bring related medical documentation for agency representatives to review and give you a RTC Clipper Card (it will look like a Photo ID). Once approved, call the Clipper customer service hotline (1-877-878-8883) so that a customer service representative will help you setup an online account.

Where to Reload Your Clipper Card

You can reload your Clipper card at the following locations wherein the reload amount will be added to your card immediately:

  • Clipper Customer Service Centers
  • My Transit Plus stores
  • Ticket vending machines with the following agencies (all stations):
    • BART
    • Caltrain
    • Golden Gate Ferry
    • Muni Metro
    • VTA Light Rail​
  • Walgreens stores
  • Whole Foods stores
  • Multiple independent retailers
  • Headquarters of participating transit agencies
  • San Francisco Muni ticket outlets (Powell and Presidio)
  • Santa Clara VTA Downtown Service Center

At the following locations, you have a reload limit of $300 per transaction, and there are fixed reload amounts using debit or credit cards (set at $20, $50, $100, $200, and $300):

  • Temporary Transbay Terminal
  • San Rafael Transit Center
  • Golden Gate Transit Headquarters, San Rafael
  • Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza
  • Golden Gate Transit Santa Rosa Terminal

More reload locations here

Online
​You can reload your card online, using a credit or debit card. You can also setup Autoload, a feature wherein you set the reload amount on your transit cash, and when your e-cash balance falls below $10, Clipper will automatically reload that preset value for you. Take note, though: it takes between 3 and 5 business days to process online transactions.​

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