Teens take note: BART has new discount for your Clipper card starting Jan. 1


Teens take note: BART has new discount for your Clipper card starting Jan. 1

The author tagging in with ClipperBy JIAHAO HUANG
BART Communications Intern

BART is ramping up outreach to teens, encouraging them to switch to Clipper and away from paper tickets.

Teens have until Jan. 1, 2018, to make the switch if they want a 50% discount, being expanded to teenagers 13-18, and to avoid paying a 50-cents-each-way surcharge for paper tickets.(At right, the author taps his Clipper card to enter 19th Street/Oakland Station.) 

Previously, youth discounts only applied to ages 5-12; those under 5 will continue to ride for free.

For a round trip Downtown Berkeley-Embarcadero journey, for example, the undiscounted fare for a teen now would be $4. If the Clipper teen discount were in effect now, that teen would pay only $2 for the same ride.

As my 18th birthday is in June 2018, I’ll have the privilege of enjoying a cheaper fare for a short but sweet one and a half years. Since I often use BART to commute to San Francisco, I’ll be able to travel farther, while putting less stress on my wallet.

This change will certainly be enjoyed by those in the teenage demographic who were missing out on discounts in years prior, but why did BART decide to change the rules regarding the discount? And what are the numbers currently for young BART riders?

To answer those questions, I spoke with Julie Yim, BART’s Customer Services Department Manager, and Samson Wong, a Customer Services Representative.

“It’s about time!” was Yim’s simple answer.

It is about time. With back-to-school just around the corner for most students, the change will help older teens who are more likely to use BART to get to class, extracurricular activities, jobs or just hanging out with friends. After all, most youth don’t have their own cars and the cost of driving, insurance, gas, etc., can be unaffordable for many.

“With this increase in ridership, BART hopes to instill a sense of independence in youth, to encourage environmentally friendly public transit use,” Yim added. “BART is a reliable way to get to school” for many students, she said.

“Who wants to carpool with their mom?” Wong asked.

Wong noted that at present, only 0.4% of the 68% of Clipper card users on BART take advantage of the current youth discount.

“That can either result from youth not taking advantage of the discount or simply not enough youth using Clipper,” Wong explained. 

BART is phasing out orange paper tickets, previously available only through registered schools for a 50% student discount. Since anyone can sign up for Clipper, it becomes much easier for teens to take advantage of the discount, without needing their school to register. In addition, starting Jan. 1, there will be a 50-cent surcharge each way on using paper tickets, even more motivation to switch to Clipper.

“Hopefully with the expanded ages getting a discount, that 0.4% figure is going to become a much greater number,” Wong said.

BART staff were working at the 2017 Fremont Festival of the Arts this past weekend to inform riders about the discount and other issues and to facilitate transitions to Clipper. More events are planned for outreach to help get the word out. 

The teen BART riders I spoke with were pleased to hear the news. 

At MacArthur Station, 16-year-olds Amaya and Djay (who requested using only their first names) expressed their thoughts.

“BART is cheap already, so an added discount would make us even happier,” Amaya said as she waited for a train to Fremont. Even when they have access to a car, the expenses of insurance and gas -- and hassles of traffic and parking -- have made public transportation more attractive to teens. 

“I’ll definitely use this discount to go more places,” Djay said, readying her neon pink bicycle as the train came. “Good job BART!” Amaya added.

Good job indeed. With ever increasing congestion and the expensive cost of owning and maintaining a car, who wouldn’t want to take BART?

If you don't already have a youth Clipper card, here's how to get one. Visit the Clipper discounts webpage to get a list of locations where you can apply immediately and get the card.

Jiahao Huang is BART's Metropolitan Transportation Commission-sponsored intern for summer 2017.