The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) launched a new fare-capping policy using Cubic Transportation Systems' technology.
Launched July 1, customers can now use their TAP card to pay per ride until they hit a daily fare cap of $5 or a seven-day fare cap of $18. Once the one-day and seven-day caps are reached, Metro riders will be able to use the system for free for the remainder of the day or seven-day period.
The Benefits of Fare Capping
Prior to fare capping, riders could buy daily, weekly, or monthly passes, some of which required larger purchases upfront. Now these customers can load stored value (cash) onto their TAP cards or TAP mobile app and pay as they go, lessening the economic burden of public transit usage. The more riders using the system, the more they will be able to save.
“Beyond the riders themselves, L.A. is notorious for its traffic and congestion, so adding a little more incentive for people to take public transportation over a personal vehicle — even for just a small errand — will ultimately result in less congestion in the city,” says David DeKozan, VP, business development, at Cubic. “We have previously seen the benefits of fare capping in large cities like New York City. Through Cubic, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority rolled out fare capping in 2022, and by the end of the year, the subway had registered more than one billion trips, which was the first time it hit that milestone since before the pandemic.”
Fare capping is the latest rider benefit added to the TAP regional contactless fare system, which Cubic and Metro have collaborated on for more than two decades. The all-in-one system and fare-capping ability streamlines fare payments for riders, simplifies operations for Metro, and consolidates the number of fare products needed to create a comprehensive rider experience.
“Keeping transit affordable is important because it helps keep transit accessible to everyone. People rely on public transportation for essential tasks like going to the doctor, getting to work on time, and picking up children from school, and no one should be penalized for not being able to afford monthly or weekly transit passes upfront,” DeKozan explains about the benefits that fare capping could bring. “When transit is equitable, suddenly a travel option that may have previously been someone’s last resort becomes their first choice. Getting people off the roads and into public transit will lead to cleaner air and less congested cities. So, implementing measures like fare capping and account-based ticketing ensures that transit remains an easy, accessible, and affordable option for all.”
L.A.’s TAP Program
Since its original delivery in 2004, Cubic has been assisting TAP in the continual growth and evolution of the TAP system. This has resulted in its expansion to include 26 participating agencies, the gating of the subway system, and forward transition to new forms of payment media including commuter rail linked bar code tickets and near field communications (NFC) enabled smartphones with virtual TAP cards loaded to them.
In addition, the Cubic/Metro team has consistently collaborated on State of Good Repair items both increasing the functionality of the system, via such things as real-time wireless to the bus fleet and ensuring continued hardware reliability and a platform enabling continued innovation.
Accordingly, Metro has been able to spread out its investments while continually offering enhancements to the rider experience. The fare-capping program is the latest in this ongoing series of enhancements and leverages those that came before it.
“As Metro joins its peer agencies across the nation in re-capturing ridership post-pandemic, programs like fare capping not only respond to equity goals for those with the greatest need for transit services but create an economic incentive to draw more discretionary riders,” says DeKozan. “Cubic envisions that success in driving the growth of both pre-existing and new riders will further fuel forward innovation and additional new programs.”
L.A.’s Fare Payment Moving Ahead
Fare capping arrives at an ideal time in Los Angeles, as the city prepares to host multiple mega events, including the 2026 FIFA World Cup and 2028 Summer Olympics — each anticipated to draw millions of global citizens. Not only will the ability to pay contactless make the visiting rider experience easier — but fare capping will make transit the most affordable and sustainable option for attendees.
Moving forward, DeKozan says Cubic and Metro continue to collaborate on new infrastructure, such as rear door bus validators and upgrading of the ticket vending machines to the latest IT and bankcard standards, while making such advancements with an eye toward broader industry trends, including account-based ticketing, contactless open payments, and more seamless linkages of the transit experience with other modal services like parking, bikeshare, and on-demand services.
“The overall objective is to continually improve the customer experience and make transit even more attractive to a broader audience,” he says. “Capturing new ridership segments and progressively decreasing the use of single occupancy vehicles is paramount in achieving the sustainability goals of decreased congestion, reduction in greenhouse gases, higher productivity, and greater equity across our cities.”