As the use of the Clipper card increases, what many people may be unaware of is that technology in the card allows local transit agencies to collect data on a passenger’s whereabouts and travel habits from a chip in each card.
The Clipper payment system, which rolled out on a limited basis in 2002 as the Translink card, is being used at an increasing pace. In San Francisco in October, less than 25 percent of Muni riders had loaded their monthly Fast Pass onto a Clipper Card. By the end of October, that number had increased to 43 percent with an aggressive campaign being rolled out by the MTC.
As riders swipe the cards to ride buses or trains, a unique identification number is logged. Passengers who register their card with Clipper — a process that is optional but offers perks — have personal information linked to the data that is collected at each fare gate they enter.