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Home>Getting Around>Fares>Clipper FAQs

Clipper FAQs

  1. How much does a Clipper Card cost?
  2. Clipper cardHow do I load the card, and does the amount expire?
  3. When is the Clipper card ready for use?
  4. Transfers from Caltrain?
  5. Can customers purchase all types of VTA passes that we currently have on the Clipper card?
  6. I have a Regular Monthly Pass, but need to take an Express route. How do I pay the difference?
  7. Can I use my Clipper card and cash to pay for my ride?
  8. Can I use my card to pay the fare of someone traveling with me?​
  9. If I have a Caltrain monthly pass on my Clipper Card that allows me to ride VTA for free and I take VTA as my first ride of the month will I get charged for the VTA trip?
  10. If an RTC card with a Clipper or Translink logo is lost, but I’m still using the monthly sticker, will Clipper replaced the monthly sticker?
  11. Is my RTC card automatically registered with Clipper?

Per VTA Board Approved Fare Policy: No refunds shall be made for purchased passes. Lost or stolen Day Passes or Monthly Passes shall not be replaced.


How much does a Clipper Card cost?

New Adult Clipper cards purchased at VTA locations will cost $3.00. 

New! Light Rail Station Platforms
Alum Rock, McKee, Mountain View, Penitencia Creek, River Oaks

Valley Transportation Authority, Marketing Division
First Street Headquarters
3331 North First Street and River Oaks (Bldg. B - Lobby)
8 am - 4:30 pm Monday - Friday
 
Downtown Customer Service Center
55-A West Santa Clara Street San Jose, CA 95113
9am - 6 pm Monday - Friday

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How do I load the card, and does the amount expire?

Customers can go to one of our two locations listed above, visit a Clipper retailer or load their card at any ticket vending machine (TVM), located on all 62 VTA light rail station platforms. TVM's accept cash, debit or credit cards. Cash value on your card will be used as a Single Ride Fare if you do not have a VTA monthly pass. Cash on your card will not expire, although the monthly passes will expire at the end of the month. 

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When is the Clipper card ready for use?

If you load VTA’s monthly passes by visiting VTA’s ticket office, then the monthly pass loaded onto the card will be ready for use immediately.  When you add value over the phone or through the website, it may take up to 5 business days for the appropriate fare or cash to be loaded onto your card.  For Autoload subscribers, the pass will be available on your card when you first tag your card at the first of the month (for cash Autoload subscribers, the pre-set value will be automatically added to your card whenever your cash balance falls below $10 or your pass expires).  When you first set up Autoload using a credit card, it may take up to 3-5 days for your new Autoload set-up to take effect. If you use a bank account, it may take 5 to 10 business days. 

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What happens if the Clipper card reader says I don’t have enough money on my card for my ride?

If your fare exceeds your available cash balance, you can complete your trip as long as you have at least $0.01 on your card.  You will need to add value before you can use your card again.  Your new card balance will automatically be reduced by the amount you owe.  If your card has no cash on it, or if your monthly pass has expired, your Clipper card will not be accepted and you will have to pay your fare in cash.

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Do I need to tag my card even if I have a monthly pass?

Yes, regardless of whether you use cash or a monthly pass, you must tag your card  to a card reader every time you board a bus or before you board light rail.  Your tag is your proof of payment.

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What is autoload?

Autoload is the fastest and easiest way to ensure you'll always have value on your Clipper card. Link your card to a credit card or bank account, and whenever your cash balance falls below $10 or your pass expires, the pre-set value will be automatically added to your card.  You can also set autoload to add monthly passes to your Clipper card automatically.
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How many Monthly passes can I buy?

If you subscribe to autoload, only one Monthly pass will be loaded onto your card.  There may be instances when you can have the current Monthly pass loaded onto your card and then load next month’s pass by purchasing it through a ticket office terminal, the website or over the phone.  In this case, Clipper will only recognize the current monthly pass.

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Will I be able to purchase VTA Day Passes?

Yes.  VTA’s Day Passes are now available on Clipper! Just load your Clipper card with Clipper Cash, tag every time you board a VTA bus or if you are using VTA light rail - tag only once at the beginning of your trip. If you need to transfer to a second or third light rail vehicle to complete your trip, DO NOT tag your Clipper card again unless your transfer to another light rail vehicle is more than 2 hours after your first tag on light rail. Your third tag on the same day will turn into a day pass and no other ecash will be deducted for the remainder of that day. 

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What are the rules on tagging a VTA Monthly Pass?
How do I activate the pass?

You must tag your Clipper card on the first day of use for the month of the pass.  This action loads your VTA monthly pass on the Clipper card.  If you buy the next month’s pass during the current month, Clipper will recognize the current pass.

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What about upgrades?

Customers using a Monthly pass on their Clipper card can upgrade to a route with a higher fare by paying the difference between the standard and express fare with cash ONLY on their Clipper card.  This will be done automatically through Clipper.  Patrons without the required cash upgrade on their Clipper card will be required to pay the full fare in cash.

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What about Clipper on light rail?

When using Clipper on VTA light rail, customers only need to tap their card on the platform reader once, at the beginning of their trip, before entering the vehicle. If you need to transfer to a second or third light rail vehicle to complete this trip, you do not need to tap your Clipper card again prior to boarding unless the transfer is more than 2 hours after starting the original trip.For customers using cash on the Clipper card to pay for a light rail single ride, once customers tag their Clipper card at a light rail station they will have 2 hours to complete a trip on light rail.  If they tag again when they board another light rail vehicle, they will be charged for the ride.

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What about inter-agency transfers?

VTA offers transfers from the following transit systems that will only be available using the Clipper card:

  • AC Transit (includes Dumbarton Express service) – AC Transit riders using e-cash or the AC Transit 31-Day Pass will receive a maximum credit of a VTA single ride within 2 hours of boarding an AC Transit bus.
  • BART (Fremont Station only) – Adult riders using Clipper cash who board VTA within one hour of exiting the BART station will automatically receive a one-time fare credit of $0.50.  Youth and Senior/Disabled riders paying cash or using Clipper e-cash will be charged a local single ride fare with no transfer credit. Beginning January 1, 2018, Standard SmartPass users transferring to VTA Express Bus routes pay only a $2.25 upgrade fee (exceptions apply - please see your designated SmartPass coordinator for details).  
  • VTA Monthly Pass customers receive a local fare credit if they board SamTrans within 2 hours of first boarding and tagging their Clipper card on VTA. (SamTrans Monthly Pass customers receive a local fare credit if they board VTA within 2 hours of first boarding and tagging on SamTrans.
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Transfers from Caltrain?

With Clipper® Card, passengers who have a 2-zones or greater Caltrain monthly pass (1-zone monthly pass for Senior/Disabled) receive free transfers to and from VTA local, limited stop bus, bus rapid transit and light rail. Adult customers wishing to upgrade to VTA Express routes may do so for a $2.25** upgrade fee which can only be paid by using cash fare loaded on the Clipper card. Transfering from Caltrain to a VTA Express bus is free for youth and senior/disabled Caltrain monthly pass holders with any number of zones.

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Can customers purchase all types of VTA passes that we currently have on the Clipper card?

Customers will ONLY be able to purchase VTA monthly passes (adult, express, youth and senior/disabled) and add cash value on their Clipper card. 

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I have a Regular Adult Monthly Pass, but need to take an Express route. How do I pay the difference?

The Local Monthly Pass will provide a local fare credit. The additional $2.00* fare required for the Express Route will be paid with electronic cash from the Clipper card.
*The upgrade fee for adults will adjust to $2.25 beginning January 1, 2018.

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Can I use my Clipper card and cash to pay for my ride?

When using Clipper, you must pay your entire fare with the pass and/or cash on your Clipper card. You cannot pay a portion with cash and a portion with your Clipper card.

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It looks like the RTC card has a Clipper chip in it - is this so?

Yes, the Regional Transit Connection Discount Card is now issued as a Clipper card. (There are still some valid RTCDC TransLink cards in circulation.) For customers with disabilities who want to receive the appropriate discount using a Clipper card, they must have the RTCDC version. If a person who qualifies for a discount uses a regular Clipper card, they will be charged a full fare. There is nothing the bus operator can do to adjust that. (Note: customers can present an RTCDC Clipper card and qualify to pay the discounted cash fare through the farebox.)

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Can I use my card to pay the fare of someone traveling with me?

Each rider 5 years of age or older must have their own card. Clipper cards will not allow a customer to tag more than once on the same bus within a 5-minute time frame. This ensures that customers do not accidentally tag and get charged twice. 

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If I have a Caltrain monthly pass on my Clipper Card that allows me to ride VTA for free and I take VTA as my first ride of the month will I get charged for the VTA trip?

You will not be charged for the VTA trip.  If you have the appropriate Caltrain pass loaded on your Clipper card, the Caltrain pass will activate on your first tag of the month even if it is on VTA service.

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If an RTC card with a Clipper or Translink logo is lost, but I’m still using the monthly sticker, will Clipper replace the monthly sticker?

No, if an RTC card is lost the only value that can be replaced are passes, fare or cash loaded on the card. Value can only be replaced if the card is registered with Clipper.  You can find out more at www.clippercard.com/ClipperWeb/download.do;jsessionid=WsY-dyau4EKLMiNA4ppEjw** 

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Is my RTC card automatically registered with Clipper?

No, even though you have an RTC card registered to you, the Clipper part still needs to be registered to get the benefits of registration, such as auto load or replacement of lost value loaded on the card. You can register your RTC card at www.clippercard.com/ClipperWeb/registerCard.do

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Notices & Service Alerts

Last update: 10/15/2018

Reroute of Lines 66, 68 & 82: due to Wonder Woman Run Series in Downtown San Jose 10/21

Temporary Bus Stop Relocation: for lines 88, 88L & 88M 10/15 - 11/2

Long term reroute for line 25: due to construction at Valley Medical Center in San Jose 10/15

Permanent Bus Stop Closure: for lines 63, 64, 65, 72, 73, 81 & DASH 10/2