In an effort to move customers away from using paper tickets, Caltrain is giving its riders an incentive to switch to reusable Clipper smart cards.
Compared to riders who purchase tickets at Caltrain vending machines, customers using Clipper cards can save 25 cents per zone on fares for one-way rides, and 50 cents for day passes, valid for unlimited rides in specified zones.
Caltrain officials will be closely monitoring how many of its patrons take to using the regional cards this month. The rail agency has set a goal of having at least half of its riders use Clipper by March. If Caltrain fails to meet that goal, officials plan to further increase the cost of paper tickets for one-way rides by an additional 25 cents per zone.
"Clipper is a regional fare card, and the more people that use Clipper, the more efficient and cost-effective it is for the entire system," said Christine Dunn, a Caltrain spokeswoman.
In addition to the cost savings for riders, Dunn also said that Clipper cards help Caltrain conductors validate ticket information more quickly, giving them more time for their other duties.
Two more flu deaths
Authorities confirmed Feb. 1 that two Santa Clara County men died from influenza in January, county public health officials said.
The deaths were both of homeless men under the age of 65, according to the county's Public Health Department.
Health officials previously said that a 98-year-old woman in the county also died in January from the flu and pneumonia.
County health officials planned to hold a news conference in San Jose this afternoon to discuss the deaths and ways to ward off the influenza virus.
—Bay City News Service
VTA to study cutting fares
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has awarded the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority with $1.3 million for a two-year study on reduced fares for low-income customers.
The two-year study will begin in July through Santa Clara County's Social Services Agency.
Local organization People Acting in Community Together raised the issue to multiple city and county officials during a community meeting in September.
Officials from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Board of Directors who attended were Santa Clara County Supervisors Dave Cortese and Ken Yeager, San Jose City Councilman Sam Liccardo and Mountain View City Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga. Cortese and Liccardo are also commissioners for the MTC.
Currently, a monthly pass on the VTA system costs $70. A single ride costs $2.
"Low-income people in Santa Clara County pay the largest percentage of their income on transportation compared to any other county in the Bay Area -- over 33 percent," said PACT member Sandy Hietala in a report released last year titled "Moving Silicon Valley Forward: Housing, Transit, & Traffic at a Crossroad."
The study will be funded through the MTC's Transit Incentive Program.
—Bay City News Service