The BART Board of Directors had a heated discussion today about most things Clipper, from the large number of EZ Rider customers who have yet to transition to the universal smart card, to the ease with which customers can scam Clipper cards on BART and other operators.
Despite a more visible outreach and marketing campaign in the works, there are still 40,000 active EZ Rider accounts and 7,000 daily boardings with the card. Several board members feared a scenario where a flood of last minute Clipper adopters try to beat the deadline, overwhelming stations agents and customer service representatives with the burden of refunding so many EZ Rider accounts.
Adding to the challenge, BART currently has different cut-off dates for using EZ Rider for transit and parking. On December 8th, BART customers will be able to pay for parking with Clipper and on December 15th they will no longer be able to use the EZ Rider card, but there is no cut-off date yet for parking.
“It’s going to create a lot of confusion for passengers. I think there are going to be an enormous amount of questions,” said BART Board Vice President Bob Franklin, who explained that having numerous different deadlines for cutting off EZ Rider usage for transit but no deadline for parking would only increase confusion. Though he said some of the problem could be chalked up to procrastination on the part of customers, he argued BART and MTC could improve the outreach and be clearer with deadlines.
“I’m a big believer in this card, I want to honor our commitment to MTC,” he said. But, he argued, “There is going to be a crunch. That’s my concern, that we can’t deliver by December 15th.”
“I think it hurts the acceptance of the card,” he added.