Clipper Card expanding Wednesday to 3 Sonoma County transit systems

(BCN) — Three transportation systems in Sonoma County will officially begin accepting the Clipper all-in-one payment card starting Wednesday.

The Clipper expansion will include Sonoma County Transit, Petaluma Transit and the Santa Rosa CityBus systems. Clipper already is accepted in 17 Bay Area transit systems.

Joy Gipson, the transit marketing and outreach coordinator for Santa Rosa CityBus, said a “soft launch” of Clipper started Jan. 17 and the formal launch is Wednesday.

“It’s been a long time coming. Sonoma County is the last one in the Bay Area to use Clipper,” Gipson said.

There will be about two dozen Clipper outreach events in Sonoma County through March 30, Gipson said.

Gipson is making a presentation about Clipper at Tuesday’s Santa Rosa City Council meeting.

Each of the three transit systems in Sonoma County will offer a 31-day pass good for unlimited travel on their service. Riders can get a card and add passes online at http://www.clippercard.com, at their local transit agency ticket office or at retailers including Walgreens, Raley’s, Whole Foods, Dave’s Market and ACE Cash Express.

Once riders have a Clipper card with value, they simply tag their cards to a card reader at the front of the bus. Sonoma County Transit riders also will have to tag the card at the end of the trip since fares in the county are based on the distance traveled.

Between Jan. 17 and Feb. 2, 148 CityBus trips were paid with Clipper cards.

Bay Area riders use Clipper for roughly half of all transit trips, and the card was used for an average of more than 750,000 trips each weekday in January, Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman John Goodwin said.

Clipper’s proponents say the card is safer than carrying cash.

“It will be especially convenient for people who ride multiple transit services since Clipper automatically keeps track of your transfers,” MTC vice chair and Rohnert Park City Councilman Jake Mackenzie said.

“You can set your Clipper card to automatically reload, and you can use your transfer benefits with Clipper. These features make the card a more attractive alternative to cash,” Mackenzie said.

Clipper will also expand this year to Union City Transit and to Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit trains when it begins operation later this year.

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