In May, we answered many of the common questions Metro passengers have about TAP cards. I wanted to provide a few updates:
•Installation of turnstiles and fences has now been completed on Metro Rail. All subway stations now have gates, as do half the light rail stations. The remainder of the light rail stations will not be gated because the configuration of platforms (i.e. they’re too narrow, for example) won’t allow them.
•There is still no firm date as to when the gates will actually be locked. The big reason is that the turnstiles do not accept paper tickets that are still dispensed by Metro’s ticket vending machines and used by some other transit agencies — eventually Metro will likely be doing away with paper tickets. As we wrote in May, a lesser issue to be resolved is how best to monitor the gates with cameras and/or station agents in case there’s problems with either the TAP machinery — or people using the TAP system.
•The alert system on the gates — which sounds when someone tries to evade paying their fare — is now being tested and should be activated within 60 days. Even though the gates won’t be locked, passengers who have TAP cards are required to ‘tap’ them — as they are expected to do now — and passengers with paper tickets may be asked to show their tickets to sheriff’s deputies who check fares.
•In case you were wondering, the gates do have an emergency release system that can be activated by either passengers or Metro’s rail operations staff in the case of an emergency.
•Progress is being made on the cash purse feature for TAP cards, but there’s no specific date yet when the cash purchase will be available.
•Even though a lot of attention has been paid to the gates at rail stations, about 80 percent of those who ride Metro are on buses. Bus passengers are already expected to ‘tap’ their TAP cards when boarding.