VTA begins Clipper Feb 16

Clipper will be valid for use on Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) rides beginning February 16.

VTA locations will sell Clipper cards and load value into the cards on February 16, and those cards can be used on VTA buses and light rail in Santa Clara County, California.

Monthly passes added to Clipper via a VTA office can be used immediately. If purchased through the Clipper website, it can take up to five business days for the value to appear on your card!


VTA Clipper Info

VTA Clipper FAQ

Clipper Card

Clipper Card Bay Area transit

Clipper Card is the smart card for San Francisco Bay Area transit use valid for travel on SF Muni, BART, AC Transit, Caltrain, SamTrans, and Golden Gate Bridge Transit & Ferry. Clipper is thought to be the largest Smart Card project in the United States. As of December 2010, Clipper records well over 320,000 transit boardings each day.

For this initial phase of VTA Clipper use, passengers can only use Clipper for monthly passes and single ride fare. Day passes must still be purchased via the fare box. Monthly passes obtained through VTA’s annual subscription also can’t use Clipper at this time.

Bus passengers tag on with their Clipper card when boarding the bus. Light rail passengers paying for a single ride tag on at the light rail station. Don’t tag off — you’ll be charged for a ride again! Monthly pass holders also don’t tag on for light rail rides.

Express Upgrades

VTA charges extra for express service routes. Passengers with a standard monthly pass on their Clipper cards will automatically be charged with a single ride upgrades with cash value on the Clipper card.

Passengers without cash value on the Clipper card have to pay full fare – they cannot get a discounted upgrade with the monthly pass.

This upgrade will not work on the Highway 17 Express service to Santa Cruz. Highway 17 Express is operated by Santa Cruz Metro, which does not participate in Clipper.

Interagency Transfers

Caltrain 2+ zone monthly pass holders using Clipper can once again ride free on VTA beginning February 16.

SamTrans monthly pass holders get VTA regular fare credit within two hours of boarding SamTrans. SamTrans routes serving Palo Alto in Santa Clara County are 280, 281, 297, 390, 397 and KX.

BART passengers exiting at Fremont get VTA regular fare credit within an hour of exiting from Fremont BART. Most VTA buses from Fremont BART are express services, so a fare upgrade will still be required.

AC Transit (including Dumbarton Express) also get regular fare credit for a VTA ride within two hours of boarding an AC Transit bus.


  1. To clarify
    You must tag your Clipper Card even when boarding a light rail vehicle. If you subscribe to the autoload feature of the Clipper Card and you exclusively use VTA light rail, you must tag your card on the Clipper Card readers on the light rail stations in order for your pass to be loaded onto the Clipper Card. If you don’t tag on the first day of the month (or whenever you first ride on light rail in any new calendar month) then the monthly pass won’t be loaded onto the card. It is advisable to always tag before boarding even though fare inspectors have hand-held readers that can view the fare(s) loaded onto your card. Please contact VTA Customer Service at 321.2300 if you have any other questions. Thanks

  2. Thanks for that important clarification — I’ll edit to mention tag on for monthly pass as well. I guess that means monthly pass holders won’t be double charged if they tag on through the month?

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