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Capitol Corridor Announces Pilot Program to Let Riders Pay Fares with Contactless Debit/Credit Cards

January 27, 2023

Northern California’s Sacramento to San Francisco Bay Area intercity passenger rail line is first in the U.S. to let customers tap a bank card to pay on-board

OAKLAND, CA, JANUARY 27, 2023 — With its new pilot program, Tap2Ride, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) is bringing the familiar convenience of retail payments to train passengers by allowing riders to “tap” their contactless debit or credit card to pay for train fares, just like they do for groceries and other everyday purchases.

Upon launch, Capitol Corridor will be the first Amtrak-operated intercity passenger rail line in the United States to accept riders’ contactless bank cards for fare payment aboard trains.

“We’re excited to bring our customers the ease and convenience of using their bank cards to tap to pay for train travel along our beautiful 18-stop route in Northern California,” said Rob Padgette, Managing Director of the Capitol Corridor rail service that connects the Sacramento capital region to the San Francisco Bay Area. “This modern approach to fare payment is in line with the free wi-fi, free full-length movies, spacious seating, bike storage, and other amenities we offer on our trains so that it’s both easy and fun to leave the car at home and choose to ride our service for work and leisure.”

The pilot program—dubbed ‘Tap2Ride’—is slated to begin by March 2023, comprised of 200 frequent train riders, with contactless payment readers on both levels of one designated car per train. During the pilot—which is expected to run for several months—Capitol Corridor will seek feedback from participants and determine next steps for a possible expansion of contactless fare payments in the future.

Capitol Corridor is now recruiting pilot participants and is seeking volunteers who represent a wide range of train travel destinations. The fast and easy sign-up form is at capitolcorridor.org/tap2ride, and more pilot information is available in these FAQs.

The Tap2Ride pilot was presented, discussed, and approved at the April 20, 2022, CCJPA Board meeting; view the agenda and video. To launch this pilot, CCJPA tapped Caltrans’ California Integrated Travel Project (Cal-ITP), an initiative—of which CCJPA is the fiscal sponsor—that makes riding by rail and bus in California simpler and more cost-effective, in part by providing free technical assistance to public transportation providers that want to modernize their fare collection systems.

“At Cal-ITP, we want to make it easy for riders to choose public transportation and use the bank card that’s hopefully already in their wallet to pay as they go,” said Gillian Gillett, who leads Cal- ITP, which recently published a case study on how transit agencies can help put debit cards and financial accounts into the hands of unbanked transit customers. “My team is pleased to support Capitol Corridor as they work toward providing passengers with a seamless and interoperable payment experience that’s been proven to increase rail ridership across the globe.”

Capitol Corridor needed an interoperable fare payment method because it runs between two major regions of Northern California that use two different closed-loop transit cards: Clipper in the Bay Area, and Connect Card in Sacramento. Neither Clipper nor Connect Card could be integrated with Amtrak’s federal and state ticketing requirements, and connecting transit agencies on the Sacramento end of the line are looking into accepting contactless debit/credit cards alongside their other fare payment methods.

To bring a more convenient form of fare payment to Capitol Corridor customers, CCJPA elected to pilot accepting contactless open-loop bank cards, the global standard for paying for goods and services. Beginning with registered pilot participants, Capitol Corridor customers will be able to pay for a transit ride the same way they do for other everyday purchases—without stopping to download transit agency-specific apps, juggle exact change, or buy or reload multiple regional farecards.

Pilot participants will also be able to take advantage of distance-based “fare capping”: Tapped fares are automatically calculated based on distance traveled, and they are “capped” at a weekly maximum when a rider taps the same bank card each time they travel between their home station and most frequent destination station on Capitol Corridor. This more equitable method of fare payment allows customers to pay as they go (instead of paying the full price of a pass upfront) and only for the number of train rides they take and the distance they actually travel. Riders can also monitor their fare spending via a convenient web portal.

Passengers who do not have a contactless Visa or Mastercard debit or credit card can order a free contactless-enabled debit card, such as the Cash App Card or Venmo Debit Card.

For the pilot program, CCJPA will be testing trips only on Capitol Corridor trains. CCJPA will not be including bus connections, though CCJPA will be evaluating and evolving the program over the coming months and hopes to offer bus connections in the near future.

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About the Capitol Corridor

Managed by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), the Capitol Corridor is an intercity rail service connecting the most economically vibrant urban centers in Northern California—from Auburn/Sacramento to Silicon Valley, and including San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. With free wi-fi on board, Capitol Corridor trains provide a convenient, reliable, and comfortable alternative to the congested I-80, I-680, and I-880 freeways for more than 1.8 million work and leisure travelers every year (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Contact:

Priscilla Kalugdan

media@capitolcorridor.zohodesk.com

(510) 464-6992

About Cal-ITP

The California Integrated Travel Project (Cal-ITP) was established by the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to both improve and encourage the use of multimodal travel throughout California—by enabling contactless open-loop payments (with debit and credit cards), standardizing information for easy multimodal trip planning, and automating customer discounts (Cal-ITP Benefits). Prior to launching Cal-ITP Benefits, the Cal-ITP team successfully led contactless open-loop payment demonstrations with Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) as well as public transit agencies in Sacramento and Santa Barbara County. Learn more at calitp.org and on @California_ITP on Twitter, or by subscribing to the Caltrans Mobility Newsletter. And visit Cal-ITP’s CAMobilityMarketplace.org for a catalog of code-compliant products and services for public mobility providers, including contactless payment acceptance hardware and software and discounted cellular data plans.

Contact:

Erika Ehmsen

hello@calitp.org

(916) 378-1312

Fremont Station Accessibility Improvement Project Phase 2: 1/23- TBD

Phase two of construction will begin Monday, January 23 and continue for the next several months with work on the Northeast portion of the platform, which extends along the station-side parking area. Boarding will continue on the North platform in front of the station and the newly completed South platform. Fremont Station will no longer have Passenger Ambassadors on site. The station will remain in operation during construction.

Our operating partner, Amtrak, under contract with Centennial Construction is leading this critical project that is part of a federal funding package for improving accessibility at rail stations.

Impact of Construction Work on Passengers

Customer safety will be maintained throughout construction. Paths of travel and access to available boarding areas will be designated and marked with signage.

During construction, Capitol Corridor passengers can expect typical construction noise from equipment and tools; warning horns or whistles when crews need to clear the tracks; and construction trucks operating in and out of the worksite.

We do not expect this construction project to impact train schedules. 

MARTINEZ STATION ACCESSIBILITY IMPROVEMENT PROJECT PHASE 2: 1/27-7/30/2023

January 25, 2023

Starting Friday, January 27, 2023, phase two of construction will take place at the Martinez Station to improve ADA accessibility.

Our operating partner, Amtrak, under contract with Granite Construction, will be leading this critical project that is part of a federal funding package for improving accessibility at rail stations.

The goal is to work with Amtrak to complete this project as quickly and diligently as possible to limit the impact to the travelling public. Accessibility improvements include installation of temporary restrooms, potholing utilities, demolition/installation of the warning domes, demolition/reinstallation of sections of the platform, lighting removal/reinstallation, helical pile installations, walkway/stairs/guardrail improvements, and building improvements.

Impact of Construction Work on Passengers

Phase two of construction work will begin on Friday, January 27, 2023 to Saturday, July 30, 2023.

Temporary construction chain link fencing will be set to delineate the construction areas and keep the public from entering the work zone. Signage will be set throughout the site to ensure the pedestrian traffic flow is able to get to the open platform section.

Interior improvements will impact the building restroom facilities and ticket counter areas, temporary restroom facilities and ticket counter will be set to limit the impact to the public during construction. Additionally, construction trucks and equipment will be in and out of the work site and staging areas.

Martinez Station – Temporary Signage Plan

During construction, Capitol Corridor passengers can expect typical construction noise from equipment and tools; warning horns or whistles when crews need to clear the tracks; and construction trucks operating in and out of the worksite.

We do not expect this construction project to impact train schedules; however, conductors on trains arriving at the Martinez Station will need to limit the number of doors they open since only a portion of the platform will be available for boarding at a given time. 

Lunar New Year Celebration 2023

January 20, 2023

Take the Capitol Corridor to celebrate Lunar New Year and the Year of the Rabbit in Northern California and the Bay Area! Avoid the traffic and parking hassles and enjoy free and fun activities like parades/festivals, lion dancing, community street fairs, and more! We wish you a year full of happiness, prosperity, and success!

Martinez Station:
City of Martinez
Date: January 22, 2023 at 10:30 am-1:00 pm
Location: Main Street, Farmers Market

San Francisco (Richmond/ Emeryville Station):
San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade
Date: February 4, 2022 at 5:00 pm-8:00 pm
Location: Chinatown, Grant Ave. (Multiple events)
*Transfer to BART at Richmond Station, get off at Powell Station and take the NEW SFMTA Central Subway light rail to Chinatown OR transfer to direct bus connection from Emeryville Station to San Francisco Downtown and walk to Chinatown.
Link to Event

Oakland Jack London Station:
Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce: Lunar New Year Bazaar
DateFriday, January 20 & Saturday, January 21 at 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location: Oakland Chinatown, 388 Ninth Street Oakland, CA 94607
Link to Event

Jack London Square
Date: January 21, 2022 at 1:00 pm-3:00 pm
Location: Jack London Square in the plaza by Plank
Link to Event

San Jose-Diridon Station:
The San Jose Museum of Art
Date: January 21 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location: 110 South Market Street, San Jose, CA 95113
*Transfer to the VTA Green light rail from the station to the museum
Link to Event

Lunar New Year-Tet Festival (3 Days)
Date: January 27, 2023 at 3:00 pm – 11:00pm/ January 28/29 at 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Location: 2200 Eastridge Loop 2200 Eastridge Loop San Jose, CA 95122
*Take a 15 minute rideshare from the station
Link to Event

Link21 Announces Appointment of 18 Members to Newly Formed Equity Advisory Council

January 19, 2023

After months of recruitment and a rigorous selection process, Link21 is proud to announce the selection of 18 community members for appointment to the newly formed Equity Advisory Council (EAC). Serving up to a two-year term, members will be compensated for contributing their time, perspective, and “lived experience” or professional familiarity in technical and/or policy areas such as passenger rail transportation and land use, housing, environmental, environmental justice, transit justice, and economic development.

“Equity is integral to every aspect of Link21,” said Sadie Graham, Link21 Program Director.  “We created the EAC to help shape the Program’s planning of passenger rail improvements in the Northern California Megaregion. The EAC will serve as an advisory body to the Link21 Program, providing input and guidance on key milestones. The EAC will provide a space for meaningful community collaboration to help advance equity throughout the development and implementation of the Link21 Program. We are committed to listening to and learning from the EAC members, and the community input they will contribute.”

Link21 received a robust response from people who were interested in serving on the EAC. From a large pool of dozens of applicants, Link21 selected members who represent the diversity of the 21-county Northern California Megaregion, including low-income communities, communities of color and young people that have been most impacted by transportation inequities, as well as other communities that have historically been underserved.

The EAC comprises the following members:

  • Ameerah Thomas, Oakland
  • Angela E. Hearring, Sacramento
  • Beth Kenny, Alameda
  • Clarence Fischer, Cherryland
  • Cory Mickels, San Francisco
  • David Sorrell, Union City
  • David Ying, San Leandro
  • Elizabeth Madrigal, Seaside
  • Fiona Yim, Berkeley
  • Gracyna Mohabir, San Jose
  • Harun David, Richmond
  • Landon Hill, Oakland
  • Linda Braak, Davis
  • Maya Amichai, Oakland
  • Samia Zuber, San Francisco
  • Stevon Cook, Oakland
  • Taylor Booker, Hercules
  • Vanessa Ross Aquino, San Francisco

The EAC will hold its first two meetings in January and February 2023, with subsequent meetings scheduled approximately every other month. Meetings will be held virtually and will be open to the public for brief comments with livestreaming. Information, agendas, and other materials will be available in advance of each meeting.

About Link21

Sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) and Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), Link21 is working with the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and other transportation partners to create a connected, equitable, and accessible network of train service that cares for people, the environment, and quality of life for generations to come. A new train crossing between Oakland and San Francisco is the core of the program.