Essential Trip Card
Muni is making necessary service reductions during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that for many people with disabilities and seniors, walking farther to an alternate bus — or paying for other transportation — isn’t possible. To serve this need, the SFMTA implemented the Essential Trip Card (ETC) – a discount program to help seniors and people with disabilities make essential trips in taxis during this crisis.
The ETC program subsidizes about two to three round trips by taxi per month for older adults (persons 65 and older) and people with disabilities. Eligible participants pay 20% of the cost of a regular cab ride fare for essential trips. The program uses taxis to take people on essential trips like going to the grocery store, pharmacy or another necessary medical trip. Customers who pay $12 will receive $60 value for taxi trips on a debit card.
Riders are required to wear a face mask while being transported.
Additional ETC Funds Available for Vaccine Appointments
As an ETC customer, you can use your taxi debit card to get your COVID-19 vaccine and we are making an additional one-time $60 allotment available for this purpose so you don’t cut into your normal monthly trip budget.
These rides are good for trips to the city-sponsored high-volume vaccine sites, hospitals or anywhere else that is offering vaccines. More information on the city-sponsored sites as well as directions on how to get there can be found on the city vaccination website.
A one-time allotment increase of $60 is now available and is intended to help pay for your taxi trip to and from your vaccine appointments. All current program rules regarding taxi trips are still applicable.
If you need help in scheduling your vaccine appointment or to check your eligibility, see the state vaccination website. For more information about the vaccine in San Francisco, please visit the city vaccination website.
How to Access the Additional ETC Funds
To receive this one-time $60 taxi allotment increase, you just need to pay an additional $12. You can add value in the following ways:
- Online through the SF Paratransit Taxi Online.
- Call the SF Paratransit Brokers Office at 415.351.7000.
- By mail through sending a check, money order, or Credit Card Mail-In Payment Form to the SF Paratransit Brokers Office (68 12th Street, 1st Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103).
- Make your check or money order payable to "SF Paratransit".
- Write your SF Paratransit ID number on your check.
- Write "Taxi" in the memo area.
- Visit the SF Paratransit Brokers Office at 68 12th Street, 1st Floor San Francisco, CA 94103
You will be able to use this additional $60 for up to six months after the value has been loaded onto your ETC card.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact SF Paratransit at 415.351.7000 or at email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions:
To qualify for the program, customers must meet at least one of these qualifications:
Age 65 or older
Have a disability
Those with health conditions or mobility challenges that prevent them from using Muni or accessing nearby transit stops or stations.
Where can I go?
The program subsidizes taxi rides for essential trips like going to the grocery store, pharmacy or a necessary medical visit.
The card is only valid to pay for travel within San Francisco.
How do I apply?
An older adult or persons with disabilities may apply for the ETC program by calling 311 and mentioning the program. Staff will be available weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. While we encourage using the phone to minimize contact, as a last resort, qualifying customers may enroll in person at the SF Paratransit Broker’s Office (68 12th Street) if needed. The office is open 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Those eligible will be automatically enrolled in the program and will be mailed a debit card. Note that because Essential Trip Cards come via mail, there will be several days between enrollment and when you are able to use your card.
How does it work?
Once your Essential Trip Card is activated, you will need to put funds on your card to use the trip discount. For every $6 you load on your card, you will receive a $30 value. You may load up to $12 per month to receive a monthly maximum of $60 of value on your card.
How do I load my card to pay for my trips?
Once you receive your Essential Trip Card, you will need to activate it. Your Essential Trip Card has a sticker on it with instructions. Funds can be added by:
Setting up an account online at SF Paratransit Taxi Online
Providing payment information over the phone at 415.351.7052 (for debit/credit payments only)
Sending a check in the mail to SF Paratransit, 68 12th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103; or
Arrange to pay in cash by calling SF Paratransit at 415.351.7052.
How often can I load a card?
Cards may be filled once a month, for each month of the reduced transit service.
What if I need to take more than $60 worth of taxi trips each month?
This program is intended to support essential trips only. If you find that $60 does not meet your monthly essential trip needs, contact the SF Paratransit Office at 415.351.7053 or MobilityOptions@SFMTA.com to speak to a representative who can discuss and evaluate your monthly allotted value. Increases can be approved in cases where customers are consistently using their full $60 allotment, or regularly taking trips that exceed $20 per trip.
How do I get a taxi once I have my card?
What information do you need to provide to apply?
Our goal is to get eligible people enrolled quickly and we will work with people to verify their eligibility. For registration, applicants should have:
- Older adults (persons 65 and over) can provide their date of birth and their Senior Clipper Card number, or another proof of age, like a driver’s license, a California ID, passport or other documentation.
- Disabled persons under 65 should have a Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Discount Card. An RTC card also serves as Clipper Card for persons with disabilities. The customer would provide the RTC number on the front of Card, as well as their birthdate for verification. If you do not have an RTC Card and are under 65, we can help determine if you are eligible for one.
How can customers apply in a language other than English?
Staff will provide language assistance for customers who prefer a language other than English.
I know someone who needs the program - can I call on their behalf to sign them up?
Reaching out to a family member, friend or neighbor to let them know about the Essential Trips Discount Program can help them during this challenging time. You can also help a qualified person sign up if you have their Senior Clipper Card or Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Discount Card and their date of birth, or for seniors, other proof of age, like a driver’s license, a California ID, passport or other documentation.
I am not an older adult nor do I have a disability, but the Muni service cuts impact me. Can I use this program?
At this time, we are prioritizing people with disabilities and seniors as they are most likely to have mobility limitations to reach alternative Muni routes. The Muni service cuts were designed to place most San Franciscans within one-half mile of a transit route, and all San Franciscans within one mile of a transit route. This program focuses on people for whom traveling that distance may be a challenge because of age or physical ability.
I am an older adult/person with a disability and need other services in addition to the Essential Trips Discount Program; where should I go?
For other needs, the City’s Disability and Aging Service helpline at 415.355.6700 now operates 7 days per week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Disability and Aging Service helpline operators are available to connect people to the City’s existing service providers and expanded services as they become available.
Do I have to wear a face mask or cloth face covering to ride this service?
When traveling in a taxi, federal regulations require riders to wear a face mask.
Can I ride with a family member or caregiver while using my Essential Trips Discount card?
You may ride in a taxi with the maximum number of people that can be safely secured and transported (usually four adults). We recommend a maximum of one driver and two passengers, who should ride in the back seat, to prevent close contact between non-family members. No extra fares will be required for additional passengers.
Can I let someone else like a family member or a caregiver use my card?
Your Essential Trip Card may only be used by you to pay for an Essential Trip Card trip. It is illegal to allow anyone else to use your card. This action could lead to suspension or revocation of your taxi riding privileges under this program.
Can I take a taxi if I am sick to a hospital or medical provider or to get tested for COVID-19?
Yes, you may take a taxi if you are sick. To prevent potential infection of others, wear a cloth face covering or mask and minimize touching surfaces in the taxi. Alert the driver so that surfaces can be cleaned on your exit.
Can a taxi driver refuse to take me to a location based on perceived infection risk?
No, a taxi driver cannot refuse to transport passengers, provided the customer presents themselves for transportation in a clean, coherent, safe and orderly manner and for a lawful purpose.
How long does the program last?
The Essential Trip Card program will end upon announcement by the SFMTA that the program is ending. Once the SFMTA announces an end to this temporary and special program, participants will be able to exhaust any remaining value on the Essential Trip Card.