San Francisco-area transit operators are launching a mobile website to manage the Clipper fare cards.

The mobile site will allow users to check their card's balance, add fare products to their cards and order new cards. The Clipper website will automatically detect when a user accesses it from a mobile device and will serve up the mobile version. The transit operators are using technology from Cubic Transportation Systems, a payment technology company that serves the public transportation industry.

The San Francisco area transit companies chose to launch the mobile-optimized site due to difficulties in navigating the existing website on mobile devices.

Clipper Card is the regional smart card system governed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commissioner, the agency that plans, coordinates and finances transportation projects in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. Participating operators include the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit), Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART), Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit and Ferry, San Francisco Bay Ferry, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).

The Clipper Card app will be closed loop—the cards cannot be used to make payments at retailers, and the mobile device itself cannot be used to make payments.

Cubic also works with First Data and MasterCard on Ventra, an open standards fare system being deployed in Chicago's buses, suburban buses operated by Pace, and the "L" heavy rail transit system. The Ventra Card has a closed loop account for transit payments and an optional reloadable Money Network MasterCard prepaid debit card that can be used at MasterCard-accepting merchants. A similar payment system is in the works for SEPTA, the Philadelphia-area transit network.  

Other transit systems are also gradually embedding mobile technology into their payment systems. The Montreal transit system uses a mobile app to deliver special offers to riders, partly as a way to manage rider volume. The telecom-driven Isis mobile wallet involved transit as part of its test in Salt Lake City and Austin. Mobile payment systems are also in development in Hong Kong and London

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