The Clipper Card is the Bay Area's attempt at an all-in-one transit pass solution. The sales pitch writes itself: why have different paper passes for each transit system when you could have 1 card for all of them? No more transfers, no more quarters for Muni, etc. Convenience, ease of use, automatic transfers.
If only it were that simple. I've been following the issues, now it's time to sum them:
- Presently, Clipper cards are free when you add $2. In the future, a card will cost a flat $5.
- The new Clipper-compatible Muni faregates have, for now, an operationsfail.
- Topping up.
What if you don't have internet access? What if the clerks at Walgreens don't speak Cantonese, let alone Spanish? What if you didn't even know your paper monthly pass would no longer be accepted?
- Lackluster communications roll-out = disadvantages for young, old, poor, and non-English speakers
According to the Chinatown Community Development Center, there has been little direct outreach to the Chinatown community about the Clipper timeline and almost none of that has been in Chinese.
(MTA Rep) Goodwin admitted the Clipper customer service center didn't have a regular Chinese speaker, and said when a caller spoke Cantonese or Mandarin, they had to utilize an AT&T translation service.
Another concern raised by CCDC was the digital divide for seniors who don't have access to computers and the current lack of physical Clipper vending machines in Chinatown. Even when the Powell Street Muni Metro Station vending machines come online this month, the walk for many Chinatown seniors there would be over a mile, something Chan said was unreasonable.And now comes the news from KALW that the youth passes needed to get to and from school are Clipper or ... Clipper. AC Transit stopped accepting the old paper passes in August. Right before the school year. In retrospect, that might not have been the best idea. The article does an excellent job detailing the logistical challenges faced by administrators and teachers in low-income, high ESL schools.