Easier prompts for TAP vending machines

We posted earlier this year about the new TAP vending machine screen prompts being tested at Union Station. The new prompts — shown in the video above — will now be coming soon to some other busy Metro Rail stations. So keep your eye out for them.

Among the stations: 7th/Metro Center for the Red, Purple, Blue and Expo Lines, Willowbrook/Rosa Parks for the Blue and Green Lines, Pico Station on the Blue Line, and Hollywood/Highland, Universal City and North Hollywood on the Red Line.

Here are a couple of slideshows that show how to add stored value and reduced fare for seniors stored value. For similar tutorials on adding a one-way fare and day pass, please click here and then click on tab for ‘new screens.’

16 replies

  1. In the video I noticed there are extra lines available; perhaps Metro should add other languages on the Tap machines besides just English & Spanish.

    • I don’t see why not?

      Bank ATMs have the ability to “remember” what language that you want the screen prompts to be in as soon as you insert your ATM/debit card. I don’t see why not the same method can’t be used for TAP screen where one TAPs the reader and it automatically changes to other languages like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog or Thai or whatever.

      It would involve simple programming like “if TAP card XXXXXX used on a TVM, the user’s default/preferred language settings are in Korean, then display prompts in Korean.”

    • You can’t. TAP is a pretty archaic system full of limitations where the people can’t put whatever amount they want to, like adding $1.50 so that your TAP card will have a balance of $2.00. Instead, it only gives people 7 pre-selected amount to pick from. And unlike other countries that have been using contactless transit cards for decades, TAP can only be used to pay for transit fares and there is no way for you to get a refund of remaining funds. It’s your money that you put into TAP, but it’s not your money anymore once it’s in TAP.

      When your card expires, the only thing you can do at that point is that you’ll need to call TAP Customer Service at 1-866-TAPTOGO (827-8646) on Monday ~ Friday 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, wait long hours listening to bad elevator music, talk to some customer service agent who has no sympathy for you (probably outsourced to a call center in India) all to transfer 25 cents from your old card to your new card. Yes, you can’t do simple stuff like that online in this day and age yet.

      Of course, you can always don’t bother in doing that and Metro can just keep your quarter forever (which is what Metro probably is hoping you’d do). Some Metro union member could use it for their laundry, courtesy of your quarter that’s supposed to be yours.

  2. What exactly is the logic behind that one can only add stored value in increments that Metro suggests ($1.75, $3.50, $5.00, $10, $20, $40, $60) rather than entering in any amount the TAP cardholder wishes to do so?

    If I want to reload my TAP card with $50.27 (or whatever amount I wish to choose to reload it with) and I use my debit/credit card, why shouldn’t the TAP vending machine allow me to “deposit” to my TAP account in whatever amount I want? Do you guys feel that government should be telling people that they can only load amounts in what government tells us to do? The only logical explanation is that the TAP vending machine cannot read pennies or small cent increments, but the logic fails for debit/credit card users.

    In contrast, look at an ATM machine. If I wanted to make a deposit to my Bank of America checking account, I can insert cash in any number of denominations that I wish ($33, $57, $12, $2, etc) or down to the cent with checks ($1759.73). It does not give me a suggestion that I can only make deposits for $1.75, $3.50, $5.00, $10, $20, $40, or $60 only.

    If TAP is eventually going to expand beyond it’s current capabilities than just paying for transit fares and move towards payments of goods and services to collect merchant transaction fees and start becoming like a financial institution for the unbanked as an additional revenue stream for Metro, eventually the need to make a “deposit” into your TAP card in any denomination down to cent needs to be done, just like the ATM machine at most banks.

    Think ahead; if a TAP card were to be used to buy soda at a 7-Eleven, TAP is going to be deducting in odd numbers like $1.79 + CRV + sales tax. One’s TAP account will always be in random denominations like $33.79 or $50.82 or whatever. There will be no logical reason that Metro should be telling people that they can only load their TAP card in amounts of $1.75, $3.50, $5.00, $10, $20, $40, or $60 only.

  3. I love the new screen prompts! Hopefully this will help riders understand how to load fare. I love the “One Tap Card Per Person” and “Non Metro Transfer”. Now ppl don’t have an excuse.

  4. Why are we being charged a FEE? In the past I always bought a month pass on my senior card and I never paid a FEE.

    • The only fee is $1 and that’s when you first purchase a TAP card. No fee for reloading it with passes, regular fares or stored value.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  5. I can reload my Starbucks card with a credit card using an App from my phone. Why can’t they implement the same process for Tap cards?

  6. Why are these machines only located at train stations. Much of the city is not reached by the train. People typically need to buy fare products at the start of their trips/visits to the city. Perhaps some of these machines can be located at major intersections/transit hubs, or in supermarkets or public libraries (well, maybe not libraries – their hours are a little limited, but you get the idea).

  7. So, no news about ‘improved prompts’ on the TAP TO GO website? ………………………………………………………………………………
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
    …………………………………………………………………………………………………. …………………………………………………

  8. I’ll ask the same question I’ve asked before: do the new screens allow putting an Inter-Agency Transfer on TAP? Currently you can use cash or stored value to buy a paper transfer at a TVM, and you can pay cash to put a transfer on your TAP card when boarding a bus. But putting a transfer on TAP cannot be done at a TVM, and putting a transfer on TAP using stored value cannot be done anywhere. Will the new screens fix this?

    • Hi Ron;

      Yes, as long as you already have stored value on your card and you tap on a validator within two hours from the time of purchase. To buy an ‘E transfer’ the sequence on the screens is A (assuming you want the transaction in English), then E and then B and then TAP the machine’s validator to load the pass.

      Hope this helps and thanks for riding!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source