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Here’s when you can tap your credit card on BART and Muni

A simple tap of a credit card will soon carry you everywhere within the BART or Muni system that a Clipper card currently does. | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

A simple tap of a credit card will soon carry you everywhere within the BART or Muni system that a Clipper card currently does.

With just the tap of a contactless debit or credit card, riders will be able to breeze through barriers on the two transit systems by the summer of next year.

Physical Clipper cards and digital cards on your smartphone will remain in use.

“I often hear from people, ‘Oh, hey, I was just in name-your-European-country or New York City, and I didn’t need to get a [transit fare] card at all. It was fantastic,’” Carol Kuester, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission director of electronic payments, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Well, that option is coming here, too.”

The commission is responsible for regional transportation planning in the Bay Area.

Kuester said riders who use credit cards to pay will have all the benefits of a normal Clipper adult fare, including transfers and fare capping.

a bart train is seen in a dark tunnel at a station
A BART train stops at the Embarcadero BART station in San Francisco. | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

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"The next generation of Clipper will be a big upgrade for BART," agency spokesperson Alicia Trost told The Standard Monday. 

"Tourists and less frequent riders will be able to pay by simply tapping a credit card at the fare gate," Trost said. "BART will also be able to explore more fare discounts and fare-capping programs."

"We will also be able to put in a grace period so you are not charged if there is a delay, and you change your mind about riding. It opens the door for free or discounted transfers between transit systems."

London has had contactless payments on its transit system since 2012. The system began rolling out across New York City in 2021.

Passengers cram into a subway car.
Passengers stand inside a six-car train heading toward Richmond from San Francisco on Thursday. BART recently began running shorter trains as part of service changes. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

BART recently announced plans to shift to shorter trains to boost safety on the network. But riders have not been shy about voicing their feelings about how it feels to ride the system in recent weeks.

BART recently unveiled preparations for new fare gates to debut in the summer of 2025, with initial installation at the West Oakland station by December.

George Kelly can be reached at gkelly@sfstandard.com