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BART Testing New Unlimited Ride “Bay Pass”

Two year pilot program just launched w/ unlimited rides on BART, Muni, AC Transit, Caltrans, VTA, ferries and more for 50,000 residents.
By - posted 8/18/2022 No Comment

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission — in conjunction with BART and all other transit agencies participating in the Clipper  fare payment system — this week launched a two-year pilot program to study the impact of a single pass that will provide some 50,000 Bay Area residents free access to all bus, rail and ferry services in the nine-county region.

Known as the Clipper BayPass, the new passes initially will be distributed to participating students at San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, the University of California’s Berkeley campus and Santa Rosa Junior College, and then expanded to include residents of select affordable housing communities managed by MidPen Housing.

There is no word on what pricing might be for the general public if the limited tests become reality system-wide.

While the Clipper BayPass will be made available to all students at Santa Rosa Junior College, about a quarter of students at the other campuses will be invited to participate in the pilot. Other students will use another form of payment (such as a standard adult Clipper card; U.C. Berkeley’s EasyPass for travel on AC Transit buses; or San Francisco State’s Gator Pass for free travel on Muni and SamTrans and reduced fares on BART). This limited distribution, which will be based on random assignment, is designed to measure the impact on travel of an all-system pass when compared to students not using Clipper BayPass. All residents at participating MidPen Housing properties will be offered a Clipper BayPass.

The first phase of the pilot is expected to cost roughly $6 million, a BART official said in May, most of which will go toward reimbursing transit agencies for the fare revenue that will be waived for those with BayPass.

A second phase planned for early 2023 would make BayPass available to employees at up to 10 businesses, nonprofits and other employers across the region, focusing on areas with multiple participating transit systems.

“One of the big takeaways from the Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force convened early in the Covid-19 pandemic is the urgency of making Bay Area transit simpler and more seamless,” explained MTC Chair and Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza. “Clipper BayPass is a great way to get real-world data on the role fare coordination can play in meeting those goals. We’ll use the information collected to help shape the development, pricing and implementation of one or more new multi-agency passes or fare caps that eventually will be used by vastly more riders.”

Pilot program participants will be able to use Clipper BayPass for unlimited travel on:

  • BART
  • SFMTA (Muni)
  • AC Transit
  • VTA
  • Caltrain
  • SamTrans
  • Golden Gate Transit
  • Golden Gate Ferry
  • San Francisco Bay Ferry
  • County Connection
  • Dumbarton Express
  • Fairfield and Suisun Transit (FAST)
  • Marin Transit
  • Petaluma Transit
  • Santa Rosa CityBus
  • Soltrans
  • Sonoma County Transit
  • Tri Delta Transit
  • Union City Transit
  • Vacaville City Coach
  • VINE
  • WestCAT
  • Wheels

“This pilot program is an exciting step toward fare coordination among transit agencies and toward making it easy for organizations to prioritize and promote transit as the preferred mode of transportation in the Bay Area,” said BART Board President Rebecca Saltzman. “Studying a regional fare pass using students and residents of affordable housing communities makes clear our commitment to building a more equitable fare system.”

Clipper BayPass is the first initiative to be implemented based on recommendations of the Coordination/Integration Study and Business Case, an 18-month study led by MTC and BART that focused on creating more customer-friendly transit fare system in the Bay Area and was conducted in partnership with all other Bay Area transit agencies.

MTC will provide funds to transit agencies to offset the revenue impacts of the Clipper BayPass pilot, which is expected to conclude at the end of 2024.

Participants in the BayPass program will continue to use their Clipper cards — either traditional plastic cards or Clipper cards on their smartphones or Apple Watch — to tag on (or off) at faregates, on buses, on rail platforms or at ferry ramps. Aside from traveling at no charge, the Clipper BayPass will function like any other Clipper card. The Clipper BayPass may not be shared with family or friends; it may be used only by participants selected for the pilot program, and any violators will be removed from the program.

MTC is the transportation planning, funding and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. MTC operates the Clipper system on behalf of the region’s transit agencies.

Read more at bart.gov