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Why the New Clipper Card is Good News for The Brokes

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It's called Clipper because there used to be boats in San Francisco, duh.

If you haven’t ridden any Bay Area public transit in a while (I know! It’s expensive these days, right?) you might have missed out on the billions of ads for the new one-card-to-rule-them-all transit pass system called Clipper. Apparently Clipper isn’t much more than a fancy focus-grouped version of Translink, but I don’t think anyone actually knew what the hell Translink was anyway so that’s not important.

What is important is that the standard, colorful paper Muni Fast Passes will be going away in the fall, so you need to get yourself a FREE Clipper card if you’re a bus commuter either way. The price of those Fast Passes isn’t changing at all ($70 for the A pass with BART access in the city, and $60 for the buses-only M pass), but for the more casual bus rider like myself, it basically means I no longer have to raid my change jar or dip into my stash of Laundromat Quarters every time I want to take the bus. Instead, I can load the Clipper card with all the change I just cashed in at the Coinstar Machine and just keep swiping my card until it runs out of credit. And let’s say I need to switch over to BART for a ride to the East Bay – not a problem since all the cash is stored in one system, so I’ll never end up with a BART card that has $1.15 on it that I’d rather spend on a soda. It’ll even work for those random trips on CalTrain, AC Transit, or Golden Gate Transit if your trips take you farther afield.

It’s FREE to get the card – for now, so hop on over to the Clipper site to order one online. They’ll also be handing them out today, June 30th at the following locations: Embarcadero Muni/BART station, Ferry Building, Downtown Berkeley BART (7-10am only) or 4-7pm at 4th and King Caltrain Station, Civic Center Muni/BART station, and the corner of Sacramento and Davis in the FiDi. Check the site for more details.

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Andrew Dalton - Aggressive Panhandler

Andrew Dalton - Aggressive Panhandler

Andrew is an East Coast transplant from Virginia hamming it up in San Francisco without any intention of leaving. Having worked every typical job from Bike Shop Employee to Bartender to Ad Agency Hotshot, to Dotcom Layoff he now busts his ass covering the "weird things to do" beat for gracious local audiences at and rallies the Western Addy/Lower Haight/Panhandle neighborhoods into action at His work was published in a real, paper magazine one time. One day he might even figure out how to make money from it.


  1. lauren
    June 30, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    It’s not the most user friendly though. It sometimes takes up to 3 days to load, there are fees if lost and can’t be replaced for almost a week. Sounds like a mess to me.

    • Andrew Dalton - Aggressive Panhandler
      July 1, 2010 at 12:28 am

      Ever lost a Muni pass? The fee to replace that thing was: exactly 1 Muni Pass. So yeah I hear you, it’s not 100% ideal, but as with most things worth more than $5, I try not to lose it on general principle.