Clipper START program offers discounts on public transit

Clipper START program offers discounts on public transit
Photo courtesy of Clipper START

By Kathy Chouteau

Riding public transit just got more affordable for qualifying folks thanks to a new discount program offered by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).

The Clipper START card gives adult riders between the ages of 19-64 whose household incomes are no more than twice the federal poverty level a 20 percent discount per trip on BART and 50 percent off fares for Muni, Caltrain and certain Golden Gate Transit and Ferry routes (offer not available for Golden Gate Ferry service in zones 2, 3 and 4).

Clipper START is not available for use on the San Francisco Bay Ferry’s Richmond ferry or AC Transit, according to an unidentified program representative.

The 18-month pilot program introduced by the MTC and Bay Area transit agencies aims to reduce transportation costs for adults whose household incomes do not exceed twice the federal poverty level (i.e., $52,400 for a family of four).

“MTC has a long history of serving low-income residents through community-based planning and other programs,” said MTC Chair Scott Haggerty. “Clipper START is really expanding that commitment to make transit more affordable to a wider group of people. We’re excited to see how many will take advantage of this pilot program.”

To qualify, applicants must be San Francisco Bay Area residents; 19-64 years old; not have an RTC Clipper Card for people with disabilities; and have a household income of 200 percent of the federal poverty level or less. 

To prove eligibility for the program, applicants can provide a copy of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) or Medi-Cal card, a county benefits eligibility letter, a Muni Lifeline card number or a copy of their last federal tax return. Upon approval, applicants will receive a card that they can load with cash prior to use; Clipper START discounts will automatically be applied when used on participating transit agencies.

Learn more about the Clipper START program and apply online here.