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News Release

Transit Riders Earning a Low-Income Can Start Saving with Clipper START®

Pilot Program Opens Today for Online Enrollment
John Goodwin, 415-778-5262

As Bay Area transit ridership slowly climbs back from the steep decline caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the new Clipper START program allows lower-income adults age 19-64 to receive big fare discounts on select transit services around the region. Clipper START discounts are 50 percent off fares for Muni, Caltrain, and select Golden Gate Transit and Ferry routes, and 20 percent off BART fares.

Clipper START is an 18-month pilot program initiated by Bay Area transit agencies and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) that uses the Clipper transit fare payment system to reduce the cost of transportation for adults whose household incomes are no more than twice the federal poverty level (for example, $52,400 for a family of four). This can be an important benefit, as transportation costs are a significant burden on many households, particularly during the current economic climate.

“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.”

Applicants to the pilot program can provide a copy of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card or Medi-Cal card, a county benefits eligibility letter, their Muni Lifeline card number or a copy of their last federal tax return to demonstrate their eligibility. Once approved, they will receive a personalized Clipper card that must be loaded with cash value before use.

The Clipper START discounts are automatically applied whenever the card is used on participating transit agencies. Clipper START is not a transit pass — it is a program that offers discounts for single rides on Muni, BART, Caltrain, and Golden Gate Transit and Ferry. The card also can be used just like a standard Clipper card to pay for fares on any agency that accepts Clipper.

Anyone interested in Clipper START can learn more about the program and apply online at  The website guides customers through the application process, details what documents customers need to upload, and will save applicants’ progress to allow them to return later to complete the application if necessary.

MTC over the last two years has worked with its Clipper card contractor, Cubic Transportation Systems, to develop the pilot program that will make application, verification and ongoing account maintenance (such as a lost card) a simple and straightforward process for lower-income riders. Cubic has been in partnership with MTC since launching the Clipper card system for the Bay Area in 2009.

To learn more about Clipper START and to apply online, visit

MTC is the transportation planning, funding and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. MTC operates the Clipper system on behalf of the region’s transit agencies.