AC Transit stays open late to let kids pick up Clipper Youth cards

Sandra Orellana registers her two oldest children for Clipper Youth Cards during AC Transit's extended office hours Tuesday.

Sandra Orellana registers her two oldest children for Clipper Youth Cards during AC Transit's extended office hours Tuesday.

To give students more time to obtain a Clipper Youth card before the school semester is in full swing, the AC Transit Office in downtown Oakland will offer special evening hours Wednesday, closing at 8 pm instead of 5 pm.

With a Clipper Youth card, kids aged 5-18 can buy and load monthly bus passes at a reduced rate of $20, instead of paying $1.05 per ride.

“It’s tremendous savings, but the only way you can get it is with the youth Clipper card,” AC Transit spokesperson Clarence Johnson said yesterday. “So it’s really important for those students who can come down to do so.”

The catch is that young people have to sign up for the cards in person. “You have to register and have a photo ID and the whole nine yards,” Johnson said. “The problem with that is that it’s difficult for them to find the time and the means to sign up.”

Trekking downtown during business hours with a state-issued ID in hand may be inconvenient for students and their working parents.  But for many Oakland families, the savings are worth the effort.

“We don’t provide school buses for the majority of our students,” said Oakland Unified School District spokesman Troy Flint.  “So for students who don’t live close enough to school to walk, AC Transit is the primary means of transportation to and from school.”

The office’s special evening hours are part of a countywide back-to-school outreach effort. AC Transit employees will also be registering Clipper Youth cards during the Solano Stroll street festival in Berkeley on September 11 and during the Newark Days celebration in Newark on September 18. Depending on demand, other registration events may be scheduled through out the school year, as well.

“Our aim is to get as many students to register as possible,” Johnson says. “So if there is a cry from the schools that kids aren’t registered and they need more help doing that, we’ll do everything we can to make that happen.”

While the cards are available to all students and young people aged 5 to 18, Flint notes that the program is a particularly valuable service for the tens of thousands of Oakland students who rely on AC Transit simply to get to and from school. “Anything we can do to increase access to this service or minimize cost helps facilitate attendance,” Flint said,  “which in turn facilitates better results and experiences.”

Nevertheless, student transit costs can be a heavy burden for some families —especially after AC Transit increased the price of the youth pass from $15 to $20 last July.

“It’s sill a difficult expenditure for some families,” Flint said.  “But we recognize that AC Transit has to operate, as well, and they’ve generally been a good partner of ours in terms of structuring their routes around our school times and locations.”

As of August 24, AC Transit had issued 18,901 Clipper Youth cards. Johnson says they expect to have increased that number to 20,000 by the end of September.

Those who miss the extended office hours may still register for a card during regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm. Click here for more info or directions to the office.


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