Reminder: new Metro fares take effect on Monday, Sept. 15

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As most of hopefully know by now, Metro’s fares are increasing effective Monday morning. The regular $1.50 fare will increase to $1.75 on Monday — but the new fare will also include two hours of free transfers for those that pay for riding with a TAP card.

That’s a key departure from the current fare system that requires everyone to pay a full fare every time they transfer.

All riders should consider whether it’s less expensive to pay per Metro trip or whether they need a pass. A quick example: if you only ride Metro between home and work and back home each weekday, it would be cheaper to pay $1.75 per trip (or $3.50 a day) rather than buy a monthly pass.

On the other hand, if you are a heavy user of the Metro system that rides multiple times a day or uses Metro buses and trains every day, a pass will remain the better option (albeit at a higher price than currently).

Where to buy a TAP card? At ticket machines at all Metro Rail and Orange Line stations, online at taptogo.net or at the 400 or so locations in Los Angeles County that sells them.

Here are two answers to two obvious questions about the new fares:

How do the free transfers work? The two hour free transfer period begins when you first tap your TAP card when boarding a bus or at a Metro Rail station. You can transfer as many times as needed in that two hour window for free with one key exception: you can’t ride the same bus or train line consecutively on the same fare. In plain English: no round-trips on the same fare. Please also continue to tap your TAP card before boarding each bus or train. 

What happens Monday to those who are currently riding on a valid weekly, monthly or EZ Pass? The short answer: nothing, your current pass will remain valid until it expires. You will pay the new higher price when purchasing your next pass.

I know many riders will have other questions. Please see this FAQ on metro.net or leave a question on our comments board and we will try to answer promptly. Please no comments or long arguments about different fare systems — we’ve already had plenty of that on the blog. You can also ask us questions on Twitter or Facebook. Please use the hashtag: #newfares

I also want to emphasize: please click here to see if you are eligible for Metro’s “Rider Relief” fares that provide up to a $10 discount on transit passes. The Rider Relief coupons for seniors and students provide savings on top of already reduced rates. Eligibility is determined by household income and the number of occupants in a household.

Please, please, please — check to see if you are eligible for a discount. There’s no point in paying more than you should and these discounts are available for one simple reason: there’s a lot of low-income folks who need them and the discounts help enhance mobility in our region. If you know of someone who may qualify, please pass along this information!

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64 replies

  1. “You can’t ride the same bus or train line consecutively on the same fare. In plain English: no round-trips on the same fare.” Sorry, but your “plain English” misses a key point. If I am riding from Pasadena on the Gold Line I can transfer to the Red or Purple Line if it’s within two hours. However, it’s unclear as to whether I can exit the Red Line at Pershing Square, go to lunch and then get on the Red Line and continue my trip going west (same direction as before) as long as it’s before the two-hour time expiration. Is this allowed or not? If not, why not?

    • Hi Bob;

      The answer is no — you cannot exit the Red Line and then ride it again as the next segment of your trip. The reason: The intention of the free transfers is to help riders complete a one-way trip with transfers, not a trip with multiple stops. The hope is to encourage individuals that make long single boarding trips today (for example: staying on the 20 or 720 instead of switching to the subway) to avoid transferring and paying another fare to make more efficient use of the system (bus to rail, rail to bus) in order to complete their trip as quickly as possible.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • “you cannot exit the Red Line and then ride it again as the next segment of your trip.”
        Wow, we thought that the two-hour transfer window allows a rider to ride Metro Rail for unlimited amount of trips (tap-ins) for any direction. That means the two-hour transfer window has certain limitations such as you cannot get off the bus (or rail line) to make a quick exit, go to the bathroom and hop back on to the same bus route (or the same rail line) again to continue to travel to the same direction.. Metro uses this type of restrictions for the “free transfer window” is very deceptive.

      • Which doesn’t reflect the reality of how people travel in the real world.

        Let’s look at how majority of Angelenos today travel around. Let’s say I commute to work driving a car. As I drive myself to work, I see a McDonald’s. I can go to get a quick Egg McMuffin and iced coffee for breakfast. Then I can get back to my car and head on my towards my work.

        To replicate that on Metro is riding the bus or train in one direction, getting off at a McDonald’s on the way to grab breakfast, and hopping back on the bus/train onwards to their final destination again.

        The “free transfer” fare system that will take effect soon does not apply to what was said to above. You’re still going to be charge double as penalty for eating breakfast.

        Metro, people do not conform to “restrictions.” That’s not the reality of how people do travel.

    • Steve,

      What’s going to prevent people from NOT tapping at a station that’s not gated?

      For example, if I purchase a single ride at Sierra Madre Villa, ride to Memorial Park, get off and have a cup of coffee, then hop back onto the Gold Line at Memorial Park towards the same direction (Union Station) WITHOUT tapping… even if my TAP card is checked onboard, who’s to say I didn’t just hang out at SM Villa’s platform for half a hour before getting on the train?

      • Hi Woody;

        All I can say is that taking the train, exiting a station and then getting back on the same train in either direction without tapping and paying another fare is against the rules, according to Metro.

        A person can try it and perhaps get away with it. Or a person can try it and perhaps get caught.

        Like so many other things in life involving rules/laws, it’s up to each individual to weigh the risks of trying to get away with it versus the penalty of getting caught. My own three cents is that I hope that even someone who doesn’t agree with the rule would still respect them and recognize the fact that fares help fund the operation of the bus and train system. It’s not a cheap system to run and/or staff properly and it’s a system (like all transportation systems) that constantly needs reinvestment to remain in good and safe shape.

        While no one likes a fare increase (including me), fare increases have proven to be an occasional fact of life both at Metro and other agencies in other regions. All in all, I do think that Metro’s fares are competitive or lower than many other agencies and the free transfer may even lower the cost for some of Metro’s riders. Again, something to consider when deciding to tap or not tap.

        That’s the best answer that I can provide. Thanks for asking!

        Steve Hymon
        Editor, The Source

      • Or instead of transferring from the Gold to the Red line, transfer from the Gold Line to one of several Metro buses that runs between Union Station and the Pershing Square area. The 745 or 728, for example. Then take the subway for the rest of your trip.

  2. The logic for optimizing the fare is rather complex, especially if you take into account inter-agency transfers. Here’s a reasonable scenario for a one-way trip from Long Beach to LACMA: start on a Long Beach Transit bus, then transfer to the Blue Line, then Purple Line to Wilshire/Western, and finally 20/720 to complete the trip. How should I pay? Well, the LBT bus is $1.25, and an inter-agency transfer is 50c. The time between tapping at the Blue Line and getting on the 20/720 should normally be less than 2 hours, but with a small delay it can easily become more. If it is less than 2 hours then I should not get the inter-agency transfer, since the entire Metro segment will be covered by a single one-way trip. If more than 2 hours will pass then I should get the inter-agency transfer, so that my Metro clock would only start when I transfer to the Purple Line. And when do I need to make the decision on whether to get an inter-agency transfer? When boarding the LBT bus at the beginning of my trip!

    Long Beach Transit is on TAP, but they still issue inter-agency transfers manually. Some day we’ll hopefully have automatic transfers, but the logic built into these will need to be fairly complex. When I board the LBT bus, TAP should deduct a $1.25 fare. When I tap into the Blue Line it should deduct a 50c inter-agency transfer. When I transfer to the Purple Line it should cancel the inter-agency transfer, and deduct a 1-way trip starting with the Blue Line tap. And when boarding the 20/720 it should look at the time that has elapsed since the tap into the Blue Line: if it’s less than 2 hours then no fare should be charged, otherwise it should reinstate the inter-agency transfer, and restart the 1-way trip at the time of the Purple Line transfer. Basically, with each tap it should look at all the trips for the day (including non-Metro trips), and then figure out the optimal way to have paid for them.

    Now, this is all possible, and London’s Oyster has been making retroactive fare adjustments for years: for example, if I start taking trips in the morning in zone 1 I might at some point reach the zone 1-2 daily fare cap, but then if I take a trip in the evening to zone 6, Oyster will choose the cheapest among 3 options: charging me separately for the zone 6 trip, or putting all trips under the zone 1-6 cap, or charging me separately for the morning trip in zone 1 and putting the rest under the zone 1-6 off-peak cap.

    I don’t know if current TAP cards are capable of retroactive fare calculations or if they need an upgrade, and there definitely needs to be a will to program the complicated fare logic into the cards. Still, programming this logic once and for all seems simpler than expecting each passenger to make the calculations on their own, in advance, without knowing how long the transfers will take.

    • Hi Ron;

      This is something that Metro is aware of and may be able to implement in the future. Staff tells me that first it would help greatly to have all the muni agencies on TAP — and we’re not quite there yet, although getting closer.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. I think people could be still confuse because the two-hour transfer window does not cover the following three situations:
    Cash fare with no tap cards
    Metro to muni transfers (vice versa)
    Metro freeway lines

    • If you pay cash, there is no transfer. Metro to Muni transfers are good for one ride and not further transfers. And freeway lines charge an upgrade fare.

  4. So in order to save some money, now I have to carry cash to purchase multiple 1-Way Trips during the week??? What genius came up with this idea? The whole point of buying a Monthly/30 day pass is (1) to SAVE money, (2) to relieve riders of the burden of wasting time at the machines to ADD value to our TAP cards, and (3) to allow riders to carry less cash on a daily basis to prevent theft and crime.

    But with this new system, since buying 1-Way Trips costs less than a monthly pass, now if I want to save some money, I have to (1) carry around cash EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK just to buy the 1-Way Trip rides which will only invite more crime and theft and (2) start my commute even earlier in the morning since I have to stop along the way to the station to buy 1-Way Trips at the machines everyday.

    I’m seriously considering just jumping in my car and joining the millions of riders on the streets and freeways. At least in my own car, I know I won’t be bothered by the numerous homeless that ride the trains EVERY SINGLE DAY and still elude LA County Sheriff. Plus, it will prevent me from being a target of some crime, by individuals who will very likely be camping out, looking for people spending money that they can hit and target.

    Doesn’t METRO have at least ONE person who thinks things through before implementing new plans? Seriously. I want to know. And if I have the question in my head, just like a classroom setting for students, there’s bound to be others who are thinking the same thing.

    • Hi B Jams;

      You could also load a TAP card with enough stored value to cover fares for a couple of weeks, thereby minimizing time you need to take to reload the card.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Hello, Steve –

        The idea to load a TAP card with stored value is a great one, but it doesn’t exactly work that well, in my experience. For convenience’s sake, I put 6 fares on my card at a Green Line station machine. The TAP card worked fine every time I boarded a Metro Rail train, but never when I boarded a bus. This isn’t the first time it’s happened to me, either. I thought the entire Metro TAP system was integrated between buses and trains. Apparently not!

        • Hey Steve;

          It should be integrated and should work — but sounds like it didn’t. Please be in touch (if you haven’t already) with Customer Service when it doesn’t work. http://webapps2.metro.net/customercomments/

          With the new fares, it may be best to load stored value instead of the fares per ride. I use that often and have not had a problem on buses or trains.

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source

  5. When I moved to this city, it made no sense that you didn’t get free or cheap transfers between rail lines, and I thought that should change. Two years after moving here and having this wish, it not only has been granted it has been taken to a level that i couldn’t imagine based on where we were just 2 years ago. 2 hours ( i was hoping for an hour and a half), or free transfers, not only between the ever growing rail lines, but they will also metro buses. Meaning, for 1.75 you can go anywhere in Los Angeles. That’s a huge win for 99 percent of people who live in this city, it’s a miracle based on 2 years ago. Of course a few people are going to have some difficulty, no system is perfect. Also, to complain about the increase in monthly, daily and weekly passes, as well as the 25 cent increase is ignorant, L.A has one of the cheapest systems in the world, and its growing at the fastest rate in history, the tax payers and voters stepped up by passing Measure R the state and federal government who can’t do anything are even chipping in,, the people can step up by throwing in a couple extra quarters here in there. L.A’s major hurdle from becoming a true U.S Super City is to fix the traffic, and also the disjointed culture that can only be brought together if the 405 10 and 101 weren’t getting in the way. Go Metro, Go Los Angeles.

    • “Meaning, for 1.75 you can go anywhere in Los Angeles.”

      Becareful of the word “anywhere” as “anywhere” is different from person to person.

      “Anywhere” to you may mean going from the San Fernando Valley to Downtown LA for $1.75. What a deal, ain’t it?

      But “anywhere” can also mean going from your apartment to Ralphs less than 2 miles away and since roundtrips don’t count as transfers, you’ll end up paying $3.50 just to go buy a gallon of milk at your neighborhood Ralphs.

      Doesn’t sound so great when you put it that way now does it?

      • No, but I would also suggest that someone frequently using Metro to take short round-trips would probably be better off with a monthly pass instead of paying $3.50 for every short round-trip.

        Steve Hymon
        Editor, The Source

      • Alternatively, if someone does many short trips and the monthly pass is going to cost $100 a month, that person will likely just buy a bicycle instead.

        Why should someone pay $1,200 a year to Metro for the sake of doing multiple short trips when in the long run, buying a bicycle is cheaper?

        And there you go, Metro lost a customer.

      • For $1,200 a year of transit passes, one could also buy a 100 MPG moped as well. That then, really would cover all bases. Cheap, fuel efficient, and can extend the travel range for the average poor Metro commuter. Go to most countries in Southeast Asia, that’s what they all use to get around.

  6. Why is it I cant get the free transfers if I pay in cash on a bus, but still have a TAP card?

    Since paying in cash on a bus is not eligible for the free transfers, does this mean that Metro is going to a release a new, functional, TAP website so I can load my fare onto my TAP card prior to boarding?

    I know they have been saying for over 5 years that they are working on a new website. When are they going to finish it?

    • I’ve had conversations about this same thing. For riders who do not frequently ride rail (where you can find TVMs to reload cards), it can be hard to actually load cash onto the TAP card.

      Something to look into for Metro’s TAP engineers… is there a way to pay with cash, but have a TAP card on hand and “validate” that card for the payment at that time?

      Of course, this would not help speed the boarding process, but it would help tens of thousands of bus-only riders take advantage of the new fare policy.

      Either that or Metro needs to really up the ante in terms of making it easier to load money onto a TAP card.

      • Hi Steven;

        That’s a great point and it probably underscores the need to make the taptogo.net website as user friendly as possible and/or get some more ticket machines in more places.

        Steve Hymon
        Editor, The Source

      • Yes! Getting ticket machines in more places would be great. TVMs at high volume bus intersections would be incredibly useful now that we’re pushing the entire system more towards TAP.

        Generally, building out more “amenities” shade, benches, TVMs would help increase the quality of the bus riding experience.

    • Metro is doing that intentionally in hopes that people can start ditching paying by cash and move to using TAP cards instead. It’s cheaper in the long run to phase out cash handling and just go to an all contactless fare system.

      By providing an incentive that TAP users get free transfers whereas cash doesn’t, it’ll provide an incentive for more people to switch to TAP.

      Of course, it’s a chicken-and-egg situation because many people who don’t like TAP and prefer cash is because of the very outdated taptogo.net structure, the hassle it takes to do the simplest of all things anything online, and the need to actually call TAP customer service which isn’t available 24/7 to do the most menial tasks that should be able to do online these days.

    • Hi Ryan:

      The free transfers are only available to TAP users because TAP is needed to electronically track the two hour free transfer periods. As for the new TAP website, that’s certainly a valid point. I’ll try to find out the latest ETA for improvements.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • That still can be done when purchasing with cash. Pay your 1.75 fare, tell the driver you have a TAP card. Driver presses a button on his computer. You tap your card and your 2-hour window starts. Done. Its the exact same process that is used today when someone buys a Day Pass on board a bus. If Metro isn’t going to provide the necessary infrastructure to their system(TAP website and TVMs) they need to provide an alternative.

    • Hi DudeAbides;

      If you pay $2.50 to board the Silver Line, that includes free transfers. If you pay $1.75 to take a regular Metro bus or train and then transfer to the Silver Line, there’s a 75 cent upcharge when boarding the Silver Line. Reason: Silver Line is considered a special service because it uses the freeway.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  7. Will it be possible to travel from Culver City to Long Beach with a single TAP fare by making the transfer from the Expo Line to the Blue Line across the platform at the Pico Blvd. station?

    • Yes, it should be possible to make that trip for one fare. Please remember to tap at the Pico Station — there are TAP validators mid-platform now, if memory serves.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  8. One simple way to ease the transition would be to allow people to CALL and go on the web site for balances, without registering the card. This can be done using a simple voice menu system.

    • Eww, who’d want to call these days? Reading info on the web is faster than listening to phone prompts.

      You end up waiting and waiting, listening to stuff you don’t want to hear like “press 1 for this,” “press 2 for that,” then another sub tree of phone prompts if you want to do this “press 1,” if you want to do this “press 2,” until they finally get around to the part that they do, and you already wasted several minutes of your life.

      Just give me a webpage that works.

  9. So far, it’s hard to say how many people knew about the fare change. On the bus I saw a couple of people paying cash who were surprised when the bus driver told them it’s now $1.75. Those with tap cards and tokens didn’t seem surprised, but then why would they be? Their cards and tokens work just the same as they always did. It’s when they go to buy new tokens or renew their passes that they’ll find out. (Or maybe the outreach worked, and they already knew.)

    • Hey Eric;

      You pose a good question. We’re not sure how many riders knew about the change either. We certainly tried to push stories and info out since earlier this year when the changes were first proposed and subsequently approved by the Metro Board. My sense from working on the Metro social media was that awareness was decent. Quite frankly, I hardly expect 100 percent awareness. Folks are busy, etc. All in all, I’m pleased with how things are going today.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  10. I have had my TAP card for 3 years and have never successfully registered it with TAP website. It is always down for one reason or another.

  11. In San Francisco, the one way fare (with transfer) is $2.25 and monthly pass starts at $68. In LA the fare is now $1.75 and pass costs $100. Shouldn’t the transit agency encourage people to buy passes rather than paying one way fares?

    The day pass seemed worthwhile before the increase and now even if you plan on riding multiple trips it is less expensive with paying one way fares.

    Why not just eliminate the pass altogether and replace it with a monthly fare cap?

    • A monthly cap (calendar month) is easy; a rolling 30-day cap is more difficult, because you may need to adjust the starting period retroactively.

    • Metro doesn’t like the idea of monthly fare caps or something more logical like distance based pricing. They think it’ll cause more confusion than it needs to, despite making it way more complicated with all these Metro-to-municipal transfer rules, no roundtrips are acceptable and passes to think about.

  12. Is there a requirement that the transfer has to be direct? Say I take the blue line downtown to 7th street, then walk over to hill and catch the bus there. This is often faster than transfering to the red line for one stop. Will this be registered as a separate trip, or will it register as a transfer, assuming its within the 2 hour window?

      • And what if I tap onto a DASH bus between two Metro rides? Will I still get a free transfer if the two Metro taps are less than 2 hours apart, or will the intermediate DASH tap interfere?

        • Hi Ron;

          I don’t know the answer. Let me ask and get back to you, hopefully by the close of business today.

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source

        • Hi Ron —

          The answer is: The free transfers are Metro to Metro only. If you transfer to a Muni, the Metro to Metro free transfer stops. Having said that, here’s a tip: buy your Metro to Muni transfer on the last leg of your trip. As soon as you buy one, your Metro transfer status is deactivated.

          Hope that helps,

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source

      • A better idea, Get two TAP cards, each filled up with cash value:

        Tap TAP card #1 on Metro A
        Tap TAP card #2 on DASH
        Tap TAP card #1 on Metro B

        That should give you the best deal, because the system thinks you’re using one card between Metro A and B so only $1.75 is deducted, and the system has no way of telling that you’re using a different TAP card onboard DASH in between which will only deduct $0.50.

      • Hi Steve,

        DASH doesn’t take transfers. It just deducts a 50-cent fare. So if I need to take a DASH trip between otherwise transfer-eligible Metro rides, the obvious solution is to use separate TAP cards.

        Of course, this defeats the logic of a single card with stored value that can be used on various agencies. So a better solution would be for the TAP team to program all the complicated use scenarios to work on a single card.

  13. i’ve used my card 4 times today, twice in one direction (between 11 and 1), and twice in another (between 2 and 3), and it deducted 4 different times, instead of only twice. is this because one bus is metro, and the other is long beach? though i dont see why that should be a problem, its both under the tap card, shouldnt the 2 hr transfer apply?

    • The 2-hour free transfer applies only Metro to Metro. There’s a 50-cent transfer between Metro and Long Beach (in either direction), but it has to be requested manually when you board the first transit vehicle. If I understand Steve Hymon’s reply to my message up very early in this thread, the reason inter-agency transfers are not automatic is that TAP is delaying implementation as a means of pressuring all agencies to switch to TAP.

      • That’s right, Steve, you didn’t write that. You wrote that having all the agencies on TAP prior to implementing automatic inter-agency transfers “would help greatly.” I alone am responsible for any understanding beyond that.

        (One does wonder in what other sense might the implementation of transfers between Metro and Long Beach Transit be helped by having Big Blue Bus on TAP, but I see no reason to speculate beyond what I already said. If it is possible to get an explanation that’s not mere speculation, it would be greatly appreciated.)

  14. Hello. I’ve added a month pass before the 15th came around for the next month. The machines keep saying my pass fare expires on the 22nd of September. Will my October fare still be valid or will I have to pay again for October?

    • Hi Briana!

      What day did you purchase your last 30-day pass? If it does expire on Sept 22nd, then you will need to purchase a new 30-day pass at the new price ($100).

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  15. FOUND A GLITCH!

    Two hours of free transfers away from the origin point should be two hours of free transfers away from the origin point, right?

    Intermediate stops shouldn’t make a difference, right? If, say, I’m going from 7th/Metro to LACMA or the Page Museum, and I take the Purple Line out to Wilshire/Western, it doesn’t matter if I grab some lunch before I catch the 20 or 720 the rest of the way.

    But last night, my first concert of the Disney Hall season, I pulled into 7th/Metro, walked down to the Pantry for a roast beef dinner, then when I re-entered the station (presumably because there was no way to for me to indicate that I would be continuing on to Civic Center instead of returning to Wardlow, and the system assumed the latter), the turnstile took what was supposed to be my return fare.

    Now, it’s not that big of a deal: another 25 cents over the old $5 day-pass (and I’ve wasted $2 getting a day pass instead of two fares on more than one occasion when I was only headed to the Central Library, and simply walked from 7th/Metro). But there is a principle: two hours of transfers away from the origin point should be two hours of transfers away from the origin point.

    And it raises the question of what happens the next time I’m headed to the Science Center or the NHM, and I tap-across at Pico? Will the system assume I’m headed back to Wardlow, and charge me accordingly?

    • Hi James;

      I’m checking on this but I think you were charged another fare because you exited the station and then re-entered. I think if you had stayed within 7th/Metro and transferred directly from Blue to Red/Purple Line (in either direction) it would have been free. I’m checking that with Metro staff.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Hey James;

      1. I was correct. You were charged for the transfer because you left 7th/Metro. When you re-entered station, the validators are programmed to see you as starting a new ride. If you had transferred directly from Blue to Red/Purple and used the validators between the two lines within the station, that would have been a transfer.

      2. As for the transfer from Blue to Expo at Pico Station, the same applies. If you leave the platform, you’ll end up paying another fare. Instead, use the validators in the middle of the platform and go straight from train-to-train.

      Hope that helps!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  16. I have value on my tap card. Decided to take advantage of the two hour transfer window for the first time and I got charged 1.75 every time I tapped
    With the 2 hour window. I transferred from the 167 to the 353. And then home again from the the 152 to the 167. I was charged a total of 7.00 dollars. At this rate it will cost me 140 Dollars for the month. I’ve spoken to 4 bus drivers and read all the material from MTA online and can’t get a straight answer. Can you tell me why this is?

    • Hi Rafael;

      I don’t know what happened or why you were charged. Please call TAP customer service at 1.866.TAPTOGO or email at customerservice@taptogo.net. Please have handy all the information about your trip — what time you traveled, which bus lines and which direction of travel.

      Thank you and our apologies for any inconvenience,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source