Clipper BayPass pilot program records 2 million trips in first year

Dec. 4, 2023
The goal of the two-year pilot is to measure if giving participants a prepaid card that offers unlimited trips and transfers between systems encourages people to take more transit.

The Clipper BayPass pilot program has recorded more than 2 million trips among participants in its first year in the Bay Area. The two-year pilot program provides 50,000 college students and affordable housing residents with a Clipper card that allows them free, unlimited rides on more than two dozen Bay Area transit systems.  

The next phase of the BayPass pilot program involves recruiting and enrolling Bay Area employers into the program, with an announcement of the first major employer that has committed to offering the benefit to employees being announced in the coming days, according to Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). 

The goal of Clipper BayPass is to measure if giving participants a prepaid card that offers unlimited trips and transfers between systems encourages people to take more transit. The latest numbers measuring ridership from the launch of the pilot in August 2022 to August 2023 show: 

  • Clipper BayPass cards are logging 40 percent more trips than the average single-agency Clipper card. 
  • A 74 percent increase in transfers between transit operators  
  • 85 percent of Clipper BayPass users agree BayPass helps them travel to new locations in the Bay Area 

“In just its first year of existence, Clipper BayPass is already establishing itself as a shining example of regional coordination among Bay Area transit agencies,” said BART General Manager Bob Powers. “Clipper BayPass is giving us a vision of the future of Bay Area transit and shows if we make transfers between systems more seamless, ridership will increase across the board.” 

“It’s exciting to see real-world data on the role fare coordination can play in helping to boost transit ridership,” said Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Executive Director Andrew Fremier. “We want to build a more equitable and seamless fare system for the Bay Area. Studying a regional fare pass using students and residents of affordable housing communities shows that commitment.” 

Participants in Phase 1 of Clipper BayPass include students at UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University, San Jose State University and Santa Rosa Junior College, as well as residents at affordable housing communities managed by MidPen Housing.  

Clipper BayPass is now recruiting employers  

The next phase of Clipper BayPass involving Bay Area employers launches in January 2024. The program will expand to include about 20,000 employees from a diverse range of employers varying by types of industries, employer sizes and geographic locations. The program is currently recruiting employers looking to be one of the first to offer their employees the benefits of unlimited transit.  

Funding for the unlimited pass pilot 

Clipper BayPass is comanaged by the MTC and BART. The MTC Commission has allocated $4.5 million to reimburse transit operators for the cost of trips taken during the first phase of the program. In Phase 2, participating employers will pay MTC for employee transit passes and MTC will reimburse transit operators for employee trips taken.