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Press Release



January 25,2021

A 20% pilot fare-discount program for low-income East Bay adult riders.

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) begins the New Year by introducing the new START Program to our riders. In partnership with Clipper, START’s cornerstone is to avail more of the Bay Area’s opportunities to low-income residents by discounting public transit fares.

Starting today, January 25, approved AC Transit START riders will receive a 20% discount on fares.

“We know that more than half of AC Transit’s riders have no transportation alternative to our bus service,” says Elsa Ortiz, AC Transit Board of Directors President. “These riders are also frontline workers burdened not only by the high cost of living here, but also the financial challenges of the pandemic, and need some relief.”

To qualify for START, applicants should be age 19-64, a resident of the Bay Area, with a household income of 200% of the federal poverty level or less – for example, $52,400 for a family of four or $88,240 for a family of eight.

START applicants may demonstrate eligibility by providing a copy of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, Medi-Cal card, a county benefits eligibility letter, or a copy of the applicant’s last federal tax return.

By clicking the link, riders will learn how to upload documents necessary for qualification. The secure website will also save each applicants’ progress, permitting riders, who need additional time, to return and complete the application process.

Riders may also apply for the START Program in-person at AC Transit’s downtown Customer Service Center, located within the lobby of AC Transit’s General Offices, at 1600 Franklin Street, Oakland. Center hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm or phone Customer Relations at 510-891-4777, and select option 2.

SMART applications may also be secured at the MUNI-BART Embarcadero station and the San Francisco Ferry Building’s Clipper Customer Service Centers or phone 855-614-9149 to request a paper application.

Upon approval, a personalized Clipper START card will be issued to the rider. Before use, each rider is responsible for loading the START card with cash value. AC Transit’s 20% discount is then automatically applied to a single ride whenever the Clipper START card is tapped when boarding the bus.

AC Transit’s Clipper START is a pilot program, operating through the close of December 2021, and not a new transit pass. For enhanced accessibility, the START card enjoys the same benefits as the standard Clipper card and can be used on any Bay Area transit agency that accepts Clipper.

Riders may gather more information on AC Transit’s START Program by visiting