On July 1, AC Transit will enact a new fare-paying system to speed-up the boarding process while giving passengers discounts and new ways to pay bus fares. Among other things, the new fare policy will include a local Day Pass, the elimination of paper transfers and offer discounts on local Clipper Card fares.
But the new system does not increase fares. The costs for boarding with cash will remain the same for both local and transbay services.
In part, the new policy was designed to help make commutes more efficient by reducing the dwell times of buses that are often delayed at bus stops by customers fumbling with coins and cash at the fareboxes.
To minimize the delays, speed up passenger boardings, reduce travel times and decrease the costs for fuel and other operating expenses, the new fare policy offers the Day Pass, incentives to increase the use of Clipper Cards and the phasing out of paper transfers.
The Day Pass permits unlimited local rides all day and cost $5 for adults and $2.50 for youth, seniors, and the disabled — making paper transfers unnecessary. The Day Pass will be available with either Clipper Card or cash.
“Our aim is to make our service more reliable and financially efficient while offering our customers faster commutes along with better, smarter ways to pay fares,’’ said AC Transit General Manager David Armijo. “The Clipper Card offers the greatest convenience and value. So, we are encouraging our customers to get one and be ready to take advantage of the upcoming change.”
With Clipper, if riders have the cash value on their cards, once they have paid fares of $5 (or $2.50 for youth, seniors and the disabled), the Day Pass would be activated and no additional funds would be deducted during the day.
With cash, bus riders can buy the Day Pass when they board the bus and then ride all day--as many times as they want-- without paying again. If the Day Pass is not purchased at the fare box, those using cash will pay the full fare each time they board the bus.
Traditional paper transfers will eliminated because the Day Pass makes them unnecessary. Local transfers with Clipper will also be eliminated because the Day Pass would be automatically applied as described above.
As part of AC Transit’s A Better Ride campaign, the new practice will be unveiled July 1st after months of planning, a host of community forums, a public hearing and a variety of public announcements trumpeting its coming.
“It’s not often that a transit agency enacts a different fare structure that does not include a fare increase,” said Armijo. “But this is what we are doing in an effort to attract more riders by making fares less expensive and service more efficient.”
Similar fare structures are in place at transit agencies nationwide, including in the Bay Area at SamTrans and Santa Clara’s VTA.