TAP card caveat: these puppies expire after 3 years

Photo by waltarrrrr via Flickr.

Photo by waltarrrrr via Flickr.

The perils of being an early-adopter: I was recently surprised to discover that my 3 year old TAP card had expired.

And I’m not the only one. We received this tweet today:

@blinkie Tried to load my TAP card with a day pass and the machine said it expired. @metrolosangeles since when do they expire?

It’s a good question, and the answer is: since always. According section 9 of the TAP Cardholder Agreement (which you agree to upon first use of the card):

Each Card will expire approximately three (3) years after its date of issuance, except for Personalized Cards which will expire based on Cardholder’s period of verified eligibility.

I was vaguely aware of that TAP cards had a limited lifespan, but I wasn’t thinking about that last week when I added $40 to my card only to have a turnstile alert me that my card had expired (and my added value inaccessible) a few days later.

Not only are stored value and passes inaccessible on an expired card, according to the Cardholder Agreement:

“upon card expiration […] an administrative fee of $1 per month of Transit Stored Value will be deducted from any remaining Card Transit Stored Value balance.”

Yikes. So how do you take care of an expired card? Answer after the jump (you’re not going to like it).

According to TAP representatives, the only way to fix an expired card is to replace it… by buying a new one.

A new card will set you back $2 and if you had stored value or passes on your expired card you must call 1.866.TAPTOGO to have the cash or passes transferred to your new card.

Not ideal, I know. That’s why I recommend checking for the expiration date of your card to avoid any surprises.

How do you do that? You can register your card at taptogo.net (watch this tutorial on how to do just that) and you can find the expiration date of your card in the “My Cards” section of the website.  Alternatively you can check the expiration date at a Ticket Vending Machine (“View TAP status”) or by calling 1.866.TAPTOGO.


47 replies

  1. I recently bought a tap card. After learning this… I’m going to throw it away. You can pry my EZ Transit pass out of my cold dead hands!


  2. This is absolutely preposterous metro. I have told my friends, family members and coworkers how wonderful the TAP program is, and now we find out about this?

    You need to fix this. This is unacceptable. Talk about one step forward, two steps back.


  3. @Venetia

    Driver’s licenses are not the same thing as fare cards, as driver’s licenses can be used to prove identity and used in combination with other documents to prove work eligibility. A TAP card could never ever do this.

    I would not be abject to an expiration were Metro to make it relatively brainless to get a new one. The issue is if someone was in a hurry to use the train/bus only to find their TAP card had expired, especially if this was not a daily user, they would be EXTREMELY unlikely to use public transit again in the future as this just made them late and likely ruined their day.

    Additionally, if you’re trying to add fare to an expired TAP card, it would make a great deal of sense if the ticket dispenser informed you it was expired, charged an extra two dollars and printed you a new TAP card with the cash purse restored on your card. Anything besides this is completely unacceptable and a waste of everyone’s time.

    The harder you make public transit to use, the less likely anyone is to use it. Especially when there is NO GOOD REASON when it has to be complicated at all. Fix this metro.


  4. I am an infrequent rider (but in the past I rode often on a student card). This makes me far less likely to get a card.


  5. Even from a business perspective, charging $2 for TAP WITH AN EXPIRATION DATE clearly has no business sense at all. Anyone who worked in the real world would see that the $2 revenue from expiring TAP cards will clearly be eaten up by the cost and wasted time in labor in re-issuing new cards.

    Here are four suggestions that Metro needs to do to make TAP right:

    1. Eliminate the expiration date. The only expiration of TAP card should be normal wear and tear, and should not be subject to any set date that is software programmed to expire. Three years throw away plastic cards and buy another one for $2 idea is hardly cost-efficient and not environmentally friendly.

    2. The $2 for the TAP card should be a DEPOSIT, not a fee. The $2 has to be returned to the TAP user if he/she decides he/she does not want it anymore. This helps tourists to Los Angeles paying $2 deposit for a TAP card at LAX to get back the $2 deposit and any remaining funds when he/she leaves from LAX. The TAP card can be used again for another tourist.

    3. Provide real incentives for transit riders to actually start using TAP as a cash-purse loadable card. London Oyster, Seoul T-Money, Boston CharlieCard, and even the paper NY MetroCard offers discounted fares or extra value for using a system that speeds up the boarding process over paying with bills and coins.

    4. Daily cap system. It has been addressed before and people keep asking it again. What’s taking so long?

    Oh wells, by the time we really see this happening will be another five years. Look how long it took Metro to figure out the loadable cash purse thing when the Culver City Bus has been offering it since inception. :rollseyes:


  6. As someone that was forced into using a TAP card (went to Union Station one month to buy my pass and found I couldn’t without getting a TAP card), I was handed a brochure telling me how awesome TAP was and generally how it worked, but where was I supposed to see and access the TAP “agreement” during that transaction?


  7. Wow, I thought I was the only one who experienced the ‘expiration’ of my TAP. It would have been nice (and I would highly recommend) the TAP agency maybe e-mail the card holders at least a month in advance to alert them to prevent these surprises or put an expiration date ON the TAP card.


  8. I would just like to draw attention to the Metro bus lines lack of honoring good students.
    Since it is the law that k-12th grade is mandatory for children and parents must work even if they are a single parent and in need of financial assistance, then children that show excellent attendance at there schools and also good grades should be issued a free bus pass thru there schools courtesy of MTA.
    Remember our future is our children, and cost of riding the bus sometimes of the year or month is extremely burdemsome to a single parent or families that are proverity level. I checked and no agency I contacted did not officer assitance in bus passes to students. This is a shame all adults should voice there opinions to MTA and the School board to partership to help the success of good students with good grades and or course attendance with this reward.


  9. TAP has the potential to be great, but it needs a renewal now. Everything about TAP has become complicated. No wonder Metrolink is reluctant to use it. Metrolink should join (without loosing transfers to Metro) and Metro needs to REDO the Reduced Fare card process, yesterday. The DMV is simpler, the DMV! Put the cards in all machines. Get the info onto the machines to let infrequent people know about TAP and why it will be better to get it for the wallet value or day pass. Sell TAP cards in all machines without having to buy a pass or give them for FREE. Actually…Metro….Just COPY Oyster card in London, or Suica in Japan. No? Ok then just copy Clipper in the Bay area! they all use the same technology there is no reason the TAP system should be this messed up.