Clipper® START℠

Clipper® START℠ gives adults with lower incomes living in the Bay Area the opportunity to travel on public transit at discounted rates.

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For most Bay Area households, transportation is the third-biggest monthly expense — trailing only the cost of housing and food.

Clipper START is a fare-discount pilot program for riders with lower incomes. Launched July 15, 2020, the 36-month long program offers a 20% to 50% single-ride fare discount to eligible low-income adults for travel on most of the Bay Area’s transit agencies.

Clipper START is centrally administered on behalf of all participating transit operators; and is subject to revision based on financial sustainability, efficiency and effectiveness.

Staff Contacts

Drennen Shelton, Policy & Funding
Phone: (415) 778-5309
Email: dshelton@bayareametro.gov

Lysa Hale, Program Implementation & Operations
Phone: (415) 778-5284
Email: lhale@bayareametro.gov 

Program Funding

To implement the Clipper START pilot program, MTC committed roughly $17 million from the State Transit Assistance (STA) program, the statewide Low-Carbon Transit Operations Program and CARES Act funds. This will partially offset the loss of fare revenue for transit operators.

Program History

In 2015, MTC launched a three-year study to determine if a transit fare program based on household income would be feasible and effective. This Regional Means-Based Transit Fare Pricing Study included three main objectives:

  • Make transit more affordable for residents with low incomes
  • Move toward a more consistent regional standard for fare discounts
  • Develop implementation options that are financially viable and administratively feasible

In May 2018, MTC adopted Resolution No. 4320, establishing the framework for the pilot program on BART, Caltrain, Muni and Golden Gate Transit and Ferry. The pilot launched in July 2020 with those four transit agencies, and by January 2021, 17 additional transit agencies joined the pilot.

MTC will continue to reserve funding annually for the life of the pilot program, subject to revenues.

Participating Agencies

Visit the Clipper START website for the list of participating transit agencies.

Support for People with Lower Incomes

MTC has long identified possible transit-affordability barriers for low-income riders. Initiatives that address transportation affordability include:

  • Lifeline Transportation Program
  • Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan
  • Transit Sustainability Project
  • Community-Based Transportation Plans

Though MTC does not determine fare policies for the Bay Area’s transit agencies, MTC does have the authority to promote regional fare coordination.

Access for More Riders

Riders with low incomes, disabled riders, youth and seniors all get a break with several reduced fare and discounted pass programs. Apply for your discounted card and save every time you ride:

Technical Advisory Committee

A Technical Advisory Committee provided input and feedback on the Regional Means-Based Transit Fare Pricing Study. The TAC consisted of a broad-based group of stakeholders including representatives from public transit operators, social and human services agencies, academia and non-profit organizations.