Rotary Report: Get your Clipper card

Special to the Tribune

NOTE: Rotary Report is an update about featured speakers at Martinez Rotary Club meetings. Rotary meets once a week at Grace Episcopal Church, 130 Muir Station Road. For meeting times and other inquiries, visit

Gina Zagotta during a recent visit to the Martinez Rotary Club. (PAUL CRAIG / Courtesy)
Gina Zagotta during a recent visit to the Martinez Rotary Club. (PAUL CRAIG / Courtesy)

Clipper cards are credit card-size gadgets that work on BART. The Clipper card also works on most of the 25 or so agencies that move people around in the Bay area. Locally, this includes AC transit and the County Connection. But not Amtrak.

The Clipper card knows if you’re a kid or a senior. It prices the trip accordingly. It knows the discount on BART, on buses, on trolleys and on ferries.

They work at BART parking. For long term and airport parking, you still have to go on the Internet to buy your pass.

Clipper cards use something called “RFID” technology. The technology uses embedded electronics to send signals a few meters. Don’t punch holes in your Clipper card. If you do, it probably won’t work anymore. Do leave your Clipper card in your wallet when you enter BART. The reader doesn’t mind if the card is buried deep in the wallet. It’ll still be read.

Don’t worry too much if you lose your Clipper card. A phone call will get it replaced, complete with whatever balance you had on it. There will be a few delays, but the replacement card will arrive. I lost mine – and I learned how good the replacement process is.

Our Rotary speaker, Gina Zagotta, is a local; a Martizian who helps BART get the word out. She’s got a great job and she knows her stuff.

Some side-comments, from my point of view:

There’s a trade-off between where you live and the cost of transport. The further you live from where you work, the more the commute will cost. You pay in both time and dollars. Divide the total time you spend commuting and earning the money to pay for it into the distance you travel. That’s your actual average speed. If you commute by car, you spend time in traffic. If you commute by BART, you probably have to stand up a bunch. Taking into account the time spent earning the money to pay for transport, your overall average speed may be just a few miles an hour. Commuting is expensive in time, money, and stress. Better perhaps to get a near-by job and to live in a smaller house. That’s what lots of young folks are doing. It’s why the market for small town-houses and apartments is booming.

That said, Gina’s got it right: if you’re taking public transit, Clipper cards are a good idea. If you don’t have one, get one.

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