December 16, 2008

L.A. Metro to begin using TAP passes

TAP, or Transit Access Pass, is the new electronic fare payment system that will eventually unify all of Los Angeles County's transit operators through a single, reusable payment card.

The goal is for transit patrons to pay for rides on Metro Rail and buses and local municipal buses with a single, rechargeable card. The region's Metrolink commuter rail riders can transfer to connecting Metro and local municipal operators using the same TAP card.

By late January, the more than 400 retail outlets and Metro Customer Service Centers, Foothill Transit Stores and the LADOT Transit Store, which sell weekly and monthly Metro paper passes, will sell only electronic TAP cards.

While all regular passengers will be required to make the switch to TAP in January, recipients of senior, disabled and student discounted passes will be eased into it by June 2009. Cash fares will continue to be accepted on both bus and rail.

Phasing in of TAP cards coincides with implementation of a gating system for Metro Rail. The agency currently relies on a proof-of-payment system and fare inspectors to ensure that patrons pay their way. Metro estimates that TAP, coupled with the gating system, will help it recoup most of the nearly $5 million lost yearly to fare evasion. New fare gates will free up fare inspection personnel so that there can be more focus on keeping customers and the system safe as they travel on Metro Rail.

TAP is part of an $89 million upgrade of Metro's obsolete bus fare boxes and Metro Rail ticket vending machines.

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