The latest on getting Metrolink into the TAP system

20121115 e Mac Item 64

Many of you have been following this issue. A short recap: in order to lock the gates at Metro Rail stations — expected to happen in mid-2013 — Metro needs Metrolink customers to have some type of TAP fare media to get through the gates.

The above report spells out the two options. The preferred one is that Metrolink adopt a paper-based TAP card to provide its customers. The not preferred one is that Metrolink customers no longer would be able to enjoy free transfers to Metro.

As would be expected, the Metro Board's Executive Management Committee expressed some serious concerns about the second option, with Board Member Don Knabe saying basically it's not an option — he wants interconnectivity maintained between Metrolink and Metro.

The Metrolink Board is taking up the item at its meeting tomorrow. Metro's Executive Management Committee moved the item to the full Board of Directors without a recommendation; it will be taken up at the Board's meeting next month.

 

18 replies

  1. How about a third option?

    Metrolink adopts TAP. End of story.

    I don’t know what’s so difficult about doing this. Over in San Francisco, everyone is onboard with the ClipperCard. It can be used on CalTrain, BART, and MUNI. Why can’t that be replicated here in LA?

  2. I don’t understand why we Metrolink riders couldn’t be able to use TAP cards and have a special free pass loaded onto them.

  3. Is it true that a large part of the reason why other transit agencies are slow to adopt TAP is because they must enter a contract with Cubic Transportation Systems (TAP’s builder & operator) and cannot go into the competitive bid process due to the fact that the system is run by one operator?

  4. Only after reading this did I realize why Metrolink is dragging their feet: They are worried they will owe more money to Metro. Also makes sense why Metro is pushing them along as well.

  5. Would it really be that difficult for Metrolink to just adopt the TAP card instead of a paper-based TAP card?

  6. Indeed. Regarding Clipper on MUNI, even the cable cars are on Clipper now. But not all MUNI fare media is: the last time I was in San Francisco, 1-day, 3-day, and 7-day passes, including the 1-day passes available from cable car conductors, were still paper, and NOT available on Clipper.

    Then there’s the T in Boston: they have both Charlie Tickets and Charlie Cards. Although given the unreliability I experienced with Charlie Card readers on a very cold, rainy night last Spring, and that there wasn’t a media charge for Charlie Cards, the last time I checked, and that anything you can put on a Charlie Ticket can also go on a Charlie Card, the last time I checked, I think I’ll be getting a Charlie Card on my next Boston vacation.

  7. Actually, there’s another issue with Metrolink: the last time I looked, I seem to recall Metrolink and Amtrak having a cross-ticketing arrangement whereby they honored each other’s tickets on all routes served by both. That could potentially be the ten-ton gorilla in the room.

  8. A while ago a person mentioned the real problem with why there’s nothing done right is because there’s a lack of standardization going on.

    Now I see it that it’s true. Transit agencies all over the region, if not the entire State of California, need to come together and start agreeing to a set of standards. Nothing will get done if one agency and another can’t even agree upon what method to use to pay for fares.

    TAP was supposed to make life more simpler like how they are used all over the world. Instead, all it did was make things more confusing because lack of cooperation and lack of standardization. We must be laughing stock of the world.

  9. I REALLY wish Metrolink would just adopt TAP outright. I have constant trouble with their ticket vending machines, and I know I’m not the only one. It’d be great to be able to TAP my card on the Metrolink platform. How does it work on other transit systems when some fares are based on distance traveled, as they are on Metrolink and BART, and some fares are a flat rate, like LA’s Metro and SF’s Muni busses?

  10. When the MetroLink dags its feet. It causes incontinence the customers. I missed a train just because it doesn’t accept the tab card. I had to wait a long line to buy my ticket at the vending machine.

  11. James:
    There are 2 Amtrak trains that honor Metrolink one-way tickets. However, Metrolink monthly passes are honored on Amtrak. The issue then would be, since Amtrak punches tickets (which Metrolink does not) getting Amtrak on board, OR, monthly pass holders losing the ability to ride “Rail2Rail” on Amtrak for free. Though, I SUPPOSE, Metrolink could simply adopt the “TAP Sticker” system that Metro already uses for zone stickers. Monthly pass holders get a special ticket, OR, they simply purchase a new monthly pass every month, which would be a special TAP card with the month printed on it.

  12. All I know is that they need to work it out because my ticket is expensive enough where I shouldn’t worry about a ticket for the metrolink and a metro pass . I don’t metro didn’t think it all the way through

  13. Malcolm M.

    Just look up how the Clipper Card does this. It’s essentially the same technology and the same manufacturer as our TAP cards.

    BART and Caltrain is on a distance fare system. You tap in when you enter the system and tap out when you exit the system. Fare is deducted from the Clipper Card upon tap out based on distance traveled.

    Clipper Card on BART
    http://www.clippercard.com/ClipperWeb/bart/index.do

    Clipper Card on CalTrain
    http://www.caltrain.com/fares/howtobuy/clipper.html

    When riding a flat rate system like MUNI, you just tap on. Fare is deducted at that point.

    Clipper Card on MUNI
    http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mfares/Clipper.htm

    If the Clipper Card can do it, so can TAP. The Bay Area got their act together because everyone was on the same page and they knew that standardization was the key.

    In stark contrast, the whole thing is just a mess down here in LA because no one wants to cooperate with each other.

  14. “Metro will receive a higher amount as all customers transferring to Metro will be required to purchase Metro fares to access our system”

    Metro could then use that money to start subsidizing the Metrolink fares of LA County residents by 66.7%, the same goal they have for their own lines. As Metrolink is a substitute for LA County residents who are neglected by the Metro agency they help fund, I would think that offering similar financial assistance for Metrolink is only fair.

    Metro hasn’t learned that in order to get 2/3rds support for tax increases, you can’t alienate over 1/3rd of the population.

  15. AD, I agree that Metro should start subsidizing Metrolink fares for LA County residents.

    The last time I took Metrolink, it cost me $8 ONE WAY from Covina to Downtown LA at off-peak time… and I had to wait about an hour for the train, too.

    If Metro subsidized that $8 fare by 66.7%, it would be about the reasonable price for the service.

  16. Instead of subsidizing, every agency should just get together and standardize to distance based fares and come up with a fair value of what it costs to travel a mile on mass transit. That’s how successful mass transit systems works all over the world!

    Things go much simpler that way so that a mile traveled on Metro is the same as a mile traveled on the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus and a mile traveled on Metrolink. Then you add an express charge for Metrolink.

    $0.10 a mile on Metro Bus
    $0.10 a mile on Metro Rail
    $0.10 a mile on Culver City Bus
    $0.10 a mile on Santa Monica Big Blue Bus
    $0.10 a mile on Metrolink +0.XX a mile as Metrolink service surcharge

    This way everybody will be on the same page and every one pays the fairest fare depending on how far you travel. If you want to get there fast, pay the service surcharge on top of the base distance fare.

    There is no reason why this can’t be done with TAP.

  17. Alex,

    Have you considered just getting a motorcycle instead?

    In that same hour you wasted in waiting for Metrolink and paying $8 oneway for 22 miles, you could just rode a motorcycle and gotten there for less gas cost.

    22 miles is about a half a gallon of gas on most 40+ MPG motorcycles. At today’s gas prices that one way trip would’ve only cost you $2.20 of gas.