Transportation headlines, Wednesday, July 25

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the Library’s Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Metro fail: Taps for a TAP card (Blogging Los Angeles)

Blogger Will Campbell’s TAP card, purchased in 2009, expires with a balance on it. To say the least, he’s not happy about the fact that the cards expire after three years. Adult language for those easily offended.

Balancing past and present on the 6th Street Bridge (L.A. Streetsblog)

A look at the design advisory committee for the new bridge that will replace the ailing current structure that many consider iconic. My two cents: A handsome new bridge would be nice, but it really doesn’t mean much unless the area around and under looks so disheveled (to say it charitably). On a related note, here’s part one and part two of a good interview Streetblog editor Damien Newton did with L.A. Mayor and Metro Board Member Antonio Villaraigosa.

San Gabriel Valley officials vote to back Measure R extension (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments voted 19 to 4 last week to back a Measure R extension should it land on the November ballot. They also voted to back a motion by Metro Board Member John Fasana — a Duarte City Councilman — that would allow Measure R highway funds to be more easily transferred to transit projects within a subregion such as the San Gabriel Valley. The Metro Board is expected to consider that motion at a special meeting in early August. In 2008, San Gabriel Valley officials opposed Measure R, although local voters weren’t swayed. Measure R is funding the Gold Line extension to Azusa as well as a future extension of the Gold Line from East Los Angeles to either South El Monte or Whittier.


13 replies

  1. I travel all over the world and TAP has to be the worst of them all.

    Why does LA have to be so different and fail miserably at it? If they’re different but good at it than that’s no problem. But so many things that Metro does like TAP goes against all the tried-and-true methods that are in place everywhere!

    I mean why bother with coming up with bizarre ideas that make no sense? Is there someone in Metro who says “hey, let’s do this because that’s gotta be much better idea than a transit city that’s way better than us” and only to come back with oops that was a bad idea, but too bad we spent so much on it we can’t turn back now.


  2. I’ve still never discovered how one is supposed to use stored value to buy a day pass on a bus. After enough frustrating experiences, I gave up trying. I know the technology is capable because some bus drivers got it to work, but it was clearly not covered in their standardized training. Then my TAP card expired at the end of last month with over $30 on it and I haven’t been on a bus or train since.

  3. Using a card instead of juggling coins and bills is nice – and “tapping” the card is also easier than swiping a card (like a credit card). So that part of TAP, I’m cool with. But I’m lucky in that I have a TAP pass from my employer, who did send me an email to let me know my TAP card was expiring and the next time I bought my pass, they would send me a new TAP card (free of charge).

    I doubt I would use the TAP as a value-added card – too much of a hassle. If I didn’t ride often enough to justify paying for a pass (whether it be a day, week, monthly, whatever), I probably would just stick to cash. I liked the tokens, actually, especially when they were available at local area grocery stores and were discounted. But it looks like the cash option is going away soon… is that just for the trains? Buses will still take cash?

  4. “the chip has to become obsolete over time so that the TAP system’s software can eventually be upgraded with new features”

    Sorry, I don’t buy that excuse.

    Metro’s TAP cards are made by the same company, Cubic, who issues contactless cards for San Francisco’s Clipper Cards and London’s Oyster Cards, neither of them have expiration dates and both of them have far superior software systems than Metro.

    And in all but a few years, contactless credit and debit cards and NFC enabled phones will be available that does the same exact thing as TAP cards.

    Is Metro going to make us pay $3 every three years for our own credit cards with an excuse of “well we need to concoct some kind of fee to make up for the cost of running the software system?”

  5. Also the Militant Angeleno discovered a reason as to why our RFID cards expire

    So why do the cards expire in the first place? The Militant had a conversation with a fellow transit-using, technologically-literate Operative, who told him that the TAP cards have an RFID chip embedded near the edge of the card. Being a hardware device, the chip has to become obsolete over time so that the TAP system’s software can eventually be upgraded with new features. So, it’s assumed that with each generation of TAP cards, they embed a newer version of the RFID chip.

  6. I’m with James. Having a TAP is FAR more efficient for me and everyone else boarding the bus, so I’d be reluctant to start using cash or even tokens again.
    That said, Metro needs to figure out this expiration issue. Clearly dropping the ball and making people unhappy.

  7. I honestly don’t have a problem with the expiration date of the TAP and would probably not mind shelling over $2 (soon to be $1) for a new one, the fee is supposed to cover the cost of the cards production. My bigger concern is the hassle that people have gone through trying to transfer over funds from one card to another. You would think that a Metro Customer Service Center could handle such a task on the spot or the TAP website would be more intuitive for a person to do it on their own.

  8. The forced, artificial expiration is stupid and makes no sense.

    But that doesn’t mean that stored value makes no sense. It’s still a lot easier to pull out a TAP card than it is to deal with cash.

  9. Jason L.

    If the TAP expires every three years and they make you pay $2 for a new card, what makes you think people will use stored value? You don’t pay a $2 fee every three years when paying cash and cash don’t expire, so that’s what people will end up doing.

  10. While phasing out paper tickets from TVM, Metro should also clarify the fate of tokens.
    – Will TVM stop accepting tokens (but still valid on Metro buses)?
    – Will tokens be eliminated altogether?
    – If tokens remain valid, for someone choosing to use token and without a TAP card, is he/she supposed to insert a token + $1 to purchase a TAP card for a single ride (that seems awkward)?

    I also think Metro needs to put pamphlets and/or flyers on the buses telling riders about the stored value feature of TAP card. From my own observation every day, I have a feeling many cash-paying riders still mistakenly think they can only put passes on a TAP card.

  11. Ed from Victoria,

    If you’re attending a conference for business purposes, just drive into LA. Parking fees can be expensed out anyway.

  12. I just about laughed myself silly about the TAP posts. But the guy makes a few good points about user-friendliness.

    I’m coming to LA in September to attend a conference in car-centric Orange County. On the weekend, I want to tour downtown, so I’ll park my rental car at a Metro station, buy a daypass, and ride in. I’ve done it before, parked at a Blue Line station (Willow, I think), but the last time the Blue Line was so crowed and painfully s-l-o-w I might try the Norwalk Green Line station with a Silver Line transfer. I get that a daypass is going to cost me more because I have to buy it on a TAP card. Still an OK deal if the machine sells me a pass with one for $6.

    From Google Streetview, Harbour Freeway station doesn’t look like the nicest place in the world to wait for a connection. So I might want to ride the 460, or anything else that happens by, just to get the heck out of dodge. Website says daypass is good on Silver line; not so on buses that run on freeway. What the %$#, doesn’t the Silver Line run on a frigging freeway?

    Sooo, if I figure on freeway surcharges, this isn’t looking like such a deal. I’m already on the freeway going to the station; may as well drive 10 more miles downtown. What am I missing here?

  13. Metro forcing people to pay a renewal fee of $2 every three years for a TAP card is nothing but a hidden tax.

    I’m surprised Metro hasn’t been hit with a major class action lawsuit with regards to this yet.