As some Purple and Red Line riders have noticed in recent days, Metro is in the process of converting ticket machines at stations to TAP only. That means that all paper tickets will disappear except for Metro to Muni transfers.
The conversion has taken place at ten subway stations and will continue in coming weeks to include all Metro Rail stations, as well as the Orange Line and any other Metro ticket vending machines in the area.
The bottom line: If you don’t currently have a TAP card, you will need one in order to pay fares at Metro Rail and Orange Line stations. (Please see below for more information for Metrolink riders).The ticket machines are being converted to TAP as a prelude to locking the turnstiles at some Metro Rail stations. The first gates are expected to be locked later in 2012.
When the ticket machines in stations are converted, Metro staff will be on hand for a few days to help customers with any issues. Staff are also handing out free TAP cards immediately after the machines are converted.
TAP cards are also available at Metro Customer Centers, online at taptogo.net, at 866-TAPTOGO or at one of over 500 pass sales locations throughout the Los Angeles area,
•For those transferring from Muni bus lines to Metro: Starting in September, when you purchase the transfer on the bus you will be given a transfer on a paper TAP card to pay your fare on Metro rail.
•For those transferring from Metro to a Muni bus: The Metro ticket vending machine will issue you a paper transfer that you can use when boarding a Muni bus. You will still need a TAP card for the Metro part of your journey.
•For Metrolink ticket holders: Your Metrolink paper ticket is still good for entry to the Metro system. Metro and Metrolink continue to work on the best way to get Metrolink on the TAP system.
•For EZ transit pass holders, an EZ transit pass on a TAP card will be available for purchase beginning with September pass sales. It’s a hybrid pass on a TAP card with a sticker. Tap the card on systems that accept TAP and show the pass on all other participating bus lines.
As the ticket machines are being converted, Metro is working to inform riders of the changes. Brochures have been put on buses, banners are hanging in rail stations and there are scrolling message signs on the ticket machines. You can find updated conversion information on our TAP fare pages on Metro.net.
Categories: Metro Lifestyle
Is there a reason why Metro NEVER posted anything anywhere in the subway cars, stations, and train arrival monitors about the end of paper tickets and conversion to TAP only?
One would think that if this major change was going to happen, that they would do something like that to educate riders BEFORE the change. The only thing I saw was a crawl on the train arrival monitors on August 28 saying that paper tickets were gone and that you had to purchase a TAP card.
Furthermore, all of the “How to Ride” signage located outside stations and on the mezzanine before the fare gates STILL say that you can purchase 1-way fres with paper tickets. Does Metro even think about these things before making a change.
In addition, they need to consider a better way for using tokens with the TAP card. A casual user like myself who would use tokens to purchase 1-way fares has no direction on the current setup on how to use a token. I had to call the Metro Service Center and be taken through a multi-step process!
“The best advice I can provide is to be mindful of when your card expires and to either get a new card and have the balance transferred ahead of time or keep the balance low on the old card in preparation of getting a new card.”
“The best I can tell you is that this is the existing system and if you are cognizant of the rules, I think it’s manageable.”
Sorry Steve, but I don’t think this is a winnable battle. Legal issues that TAP cards fall under the CA Gift Card Law aside, under nowhere in the main TAP FAQ section states any warning about this.
How can be people be “cognizant of the rules” when something that’s supposed to be important as “you can’t get your money back” isn’t written anywhere and be made aware of in the first place? Don’t you think “no way to get your money back” is something that’s worthwhile important to be written down? Or does Metro find it convenient to keep this part a secret for their benefit?
Well, it certainly seems that way because the only place where this gotcha is written down anywhere is in the TAP customer agreement available online at taptogo.net:
“YOUR FIRST USE OF THE TAP SMART CARD SIGNIFIES YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THIS TAP CARDHOLDER LICENSE AGREEMENT”
“Carholder’s are not entitled to a refund of Transit Stored Value balance, pass products, or Transit Stored Rides should the Cardholder wish to terminate this Agreement.”
Metro deems that it’s not even necessary for people to be aware about these terms and gotchas beforehand. Instead, they use scam tactics where people unknowingly agrees to the unfair terms upon their first TAP use. And now TAP cards are mandatory to ride Metro Rail?
The complainers were right on this one: THIS IS A TOTAL SCAM BY METRO. All it is another way for Metro to find “alternative sources of funding.” And this time, Metro has stooped its lowest by using scam tactics to squeeze out more money from their own passengers! Now that’s an all time low, Metro.
I call on everyone to boycott Metro!
Today, Saturday, I went to the East Los Angeles Customer Center. They have a ‘Ticket’ Vending machine there. I was playing around with it. The price of a TAP card on it was $1.00. [Previously, it had been $2.00] one could buy peak and off-peak Senior/Disabled oneway-trips. I bought an off peak for $1.25. Since ‘ID-Required’ is needed, I am not sure why a eligble person can not get a day pass. That the blue card can handle a ‘Senior/Disabled’ fare, it can not be impossible for a day pass. Why have not offered it? Potential for fraud? Forgot or did not consider it?
Steve H’s Tip:
“Tip: when buying the fare, note that there are two choices for Senior/Disabled one-trips — peak and off-peak. When gates eventually lock, turnstiles will not allow entry for an off-peak one-way that is purchased during peak hours.”
Simple, like milk, put the expiration date on the thing; just like forms of ID, debit and credit cards. This way many can know when the cards expire. A simple solution to what could become a big problem. If this were the case, I could call ahead of time and “transfer funds”, although I do not understand this since I only buy a $75 thirty day pass, but it would be ideal if I knew, I’d get a new card ahead of time. Being charged for a new one I think is a bit of a crock, but I don’t know of many gift cards that are actually free or without an activation fee. Or the opposite, place the issue, manufacture, or whatever date on the card, so we know that it expires three years from that date. I see this like a large bubble in tough mud, its only a matter of time before a mess erupts.
I sent this out to the Fox 11 News investigative reporting team and contacted State Senator Ted Lieu in regards to this matter.
If no one in Metro or the agency that handles TAP is going to explain or take responsibility what could be in direct violation of the California Gift Card law, then it needs to be done from the outside.
Being able to balance transfer the amount to another card is not acceptable solution to this problem. If a person for whatever reason decides to move out of LA and has no need for a TAP card anymore, that person is entitled to get a full refund of funds that are remaining on the card. It’s only common sense.
TAP cards isn’t a VISA card; it’s not accepted everywhere. If you have money left on a TAP card, you can’t go out and use it to pay for a Double-Double at In ‘N Out. The TAP card cannot be used in San Diego, it can’t be used in San Francisco, it’s only good for public transit in LA. That was the whole point of why California Gift Card law exists. If Metro believes it is above the law, we’ll see what they need to say in when they’re called up for some serious questioning up in Sacramento.
Well MBTA’s Charlie Cards (a Motorola product) also have an expiration date problem, but how they fixed it was they updated the bit that has the expiration date and gave everyone another two year extension.
“In terms of getting a refund, please talk to the TAP people. You may be able to get one. I don’t have access to the TAP system, etc. I’m not the guy in charge.”
Steve, if you cannot answer this, we need someone from the TAP authority or someone higher up in Metro to answer this pronto. This is a serious issue that needs explaining, and don’t try to hide this under the rug that it’s not important. No clarity on how to get funds back, especially if it’s $50 or so is a big concern for all of us.
Plus, this article’s subject is that TAP cards are mandatory now to ride Metro Rail. The two issues of riding Metro and problems of TAP now go hand-in-hand. Whose to say that such issues won’t be a problem that haunts and plagues Metro for years to come as they fail to realize the seriousness of this issue? What is Metro solution to prevent this from happening?
Lower the maximum cash value limit to $20 instead of $100 so as people won’t get stuck with a huge amount that they can’t get back every three years?
How about posting a warning note of your suggestions on taptogo.net in big bold letters to avoid this from happening?
What about writing down a procedure on how to get your money back on the FAQ page?
“In terms of legality, there are many products in the U.S. that do not offer refunds.”
WRONG. TAP cards are not a product. It is a prepaid card like a Starbuck or Home Depot gift card.
In the State of California, a gift card is defined as “one in which it is a prepaid and can be EXCHANGEABLE for goods and services with the specified amount.” Goods and services is the ability to ride the bus and take the train. This definitation makes TAP cards fall under the rules and regulations of CA Civil Code 1749.45-1749.6 (laws and regulations pertaining to gift cards 1749.45-1749.6)
Legally, TAP cards has to comform with rules regulating gift cards. In the State of California, it’s called the California Gift Card Law.
In the State of California, gift cards:
A. SHOULD NOT EXPIRE
B. SHOULD NOT HAVE SERVICE FEES
C. FULLY REFUNDABLE
The very existence of TAP cards in it’s form today is in violation of California law. I’m surprised no one has filed a lawsuit against Metro or no one in Metro has gotten a call from the State Attorney General or the Better Business Bureau.
Being a government agency does not mean Metro is immune to laws.
So basically there’s no way to get my funds back? So people who have huge sums of money leftover on their TAP cards has no way of getting their money back other than transferring over to another TAP card, nevermind that they might have no need for a TAP card (moving to another city, etc.)?
How can this be legal?
Hi Liberal Transit Supporter;
In terms of getting a refund, please talk to the TAP people. You may be able to get one. I don’t have access to the TAP system, etc.
In terms of legality, there are many products in the U.S. that do not offer refunds. In this case, TAP is not taking your money away. You bought a card; the small print says it expires. If it expires, you can transfer the balance to a new card.
I know many people do not believe it’s ideal. I have my own opinions. I’m not the guy in charge. The best I can tell you is that this is the existing system and if you are cognizant of the rules, I think it’s manageable. If you are a somewhat frequent user of transit, TAP cards can be useful. If TAP cards are the sole reason you aren’t riding transit, that’s your decision.
Editor, The Source
Steve Hymon or Metro,
Would you or someone at Metro start answering these serious TAP related questions and how you guys intend to fix it?
By the looks of, it seems public opinion on this board suggest that it isn’t fair that TAP cards have expiration dates when nobody else does and that people cannot get a full refund for the remaining value of a card, especially if it’s something big like fifty bucks remaining on them.
I’ve been supportive of Metro up to this time, but unless you or someone at Metro provides a definitive answer, I’m not going to trust TAP and ride Metro anymore.
Hi Liberal Transit Supporter;
I try my best to answer questions about TAP from reader comments, Tweets and reader email. Questions are common.
I know that people do not like that TAP cards expire. I pass along reader comments and/or sentiment to the appropriate people.
Here is a post we did in 2011 about TAP cards expiring. This is not a new issue. The best advice I can provide is to be mindful of when your card expires and to either get a new card and have the balance transferred ahead of time or keep the balance low on the old card in preparation of getting a new card. I know it may not be ideal, but that’s the reality of the situation for now.
Obviously, it would be great if you continue riding Metro. But your mode of transport is a personal choice. We do our best to provide information about the Metro system.
Editor, The Source
Answer is simple:
Get rid of the expiration date and you have these headaches go away.
No need to transfer money from one card to another. No need to hire extra phone agents just to do this menial task. No need to pay $5 transfer fee or $2 for a new card.
All these waste of tax dollars can be wiped out easily by saying “sorry, expiration dates were a dumb idea, we’re getting rid of it just like how we should’ve done from the get-go like everybody else has been doing.”
That answers only 1/2 of my question. I agree the need to call customer service at their hours is a pain in the butt when it can be simply be done online. Why should there be a $5 phone agent fee attached to it just so someone can do a few mouse clicks and a keystroke here and there when I can do that myself?
The second part however is still a mystery. What I was saying is that is there any way to get my money back if I don’t need TAP anymore?
Say like I have to move to San Diego for a new job and I still have $50 left in my TAP card. What happens to my money? Obviously there’s no use for me to transfer to another TAP card since I’m going to be using San Diego’s transit card, so how do I get my $50 remaining back?
Like some of you, I have parents who come to LA once in a while. It took me a little while to figure out how to buy a tap card for senior citizens using one of the vending machines. Next to the choices for loading x amount of $$ on a new tap card, there is a choice to buy a tap card+metro fare. This choice then leads you to a screen where you can select senior citizen tap card, etc. I do wonder why there are 2 types of senior citizen tap cards, one type for non rush hour fares and one type to include rush hour fares – would it not be possible to program the turnstiles to deduct appropriate fare instead? Lastly, the $1 new tap card fee is not part of stored value, it is the cost of buying the card. I believe the NY and Chicago metro, which issue paper tap-like cards, do not charge for them (although their rides are more expensive than ours). Lastly, it appears that Metro will start charging $2 for new tap cards, rather than $1. I saw this on the machine on the NE corner of Vermont/Expo station and also on the metro web site at http://www.metro.net/riding/fares/tap-ticket-vending-machines/.
@ Liberal transit supporter
Here is what the Militant Angeleno described when he had to transfer funds from an expired TAP card to a new one.
“Basically, all The Militant really had to do was buy another card at a Metro Rail ticket vending machine, pay $1.50 in stored value, and call the TAP customer service again, give his two TAP card numbers, and wait for the remaining $7.50 to transfer from the old card to the new one within four days.”
But I agree that Metro should end its current contract with Cubic and move some of its TAP operations in house.
After reading through these comments, I agree TAP has issues that needs to be resolved. So I would like you to give me this answer:
Say I loaded $100 onto my TAP card which is the max amount that you can put into a TAP card via taptogo.net.
Fast forward three years later and I have $50 left on it, what happens on expiry? How do I get the remaining $50 back? Do I have to pay a $2 “hidden tax” to get a new card and a $5 “transfer fee” to transfer over my money to a new TAP card? Or does Metro keep my $50 and use it for their own gain?
Say if I find a new job in another city like San Diego. We decide to move out of LA so obviously we don’t need a TAP card anymore. What happens to my money left in my TAP card? How do I get my money back? What are the procedures?
Absolutely none of this information is listed anywhere on the TAP website.
We need answers.
I don’t think the expiration date is done at first TAP, instead it seems like it’s preset by the bulk. Here’s how I know.
My old TAP card has these dates on taptogo.net
Issue date: 12/23/2008
Ship date: 03/19/2009
Registered date: 04/22/2009
Expiration date: 06/30/2012
“Issue date” is when it was this TAP card was issued out by the manufacturer.
“Ship date” is when the TAP card was sent out to the seller (i.e. Ralphs, etc.)
“Registered date” is when you purchased it and topped it off with something like cash value or passes.
“Expiration date” is when it expires and you lose all your money and have to buy a new one.
So my old card had approx 3 years 2 months of life from purchase to expiry, with about 3.5 years from being sent out from Cubic.
Since my card expired, I had to pay another $2 and get a new one. And my new one shows this info on taptogo.net:
Issue date: 08/11/2011
Ship date: 02/28/2012
Registered date: 04/06/2012
Expiration date: 10/01/2015
Now my new card has close to 3.5 years of life, over three months longer than my previous card from purchase to expiry, with over 4 years of life since it was sent out from the manufacturer.
From this, you can derive that the expiration date of TAP cards varies from person to person depending on when it was sent out by the manufacturer, when Metro sent it out to their suppliers, and when you purchased it. If you’re lucky, your expiration won’t be until 3.5 years or more, but if you’re unlucky, you may end up getting a TAP card that expires in less than a month.
What a crock of BS. Fix this Metro!
Still wondering if my cards three year life starts at my first TAP? The reason I ask is because if they are issuing free ones, should those who’ve got them take advantage of recieving a free card at the station; which would defer this fee for another 3 years? If my old card has another year on it, and I can grab a new card and save it, that would be quite courteous.
Steve, you answered for a senior. How will this effect handicapped access to the Metro system. A Metro produced report seemed to indicate that people with a handicapped placard are by law supposed to be able to buy fares? Can they really legally prohibit them from buying a Day Pass?
I don’t understand your question. As far as I know, no one is being denied permission to buy a day pass.
Editor, The Source
“Something is wrong with this sentence”
Nope, there’s nothing wrong with sentence. This is a good example of how Metro considers taxpayers as idiots. Here’s what’s really being said:
Dear taxpayers of LA:
You can register for TAP Balance Protection for free. The privilege that you gain is our ability to steal another $5 from you. We do this because it’s your own fault that you had your TAP card lost or stolen.
If you signed up for “Balance Protection” and should you get into a predicament that needs assistance with this, you will have to call the TAP customer service agents between the hours of Monday-Friday between business hours of 8-5, or visit a Metro Customer Service Center. We understand people usually have jobs during these times but we expect people to take a precious vacation day off to do this.
We also need a way to hire call center agents as government jobs to make up excuses that we need more taxes. That $5 fee covers for the $25,000 call center agents pressing a button in front of a computer. If more people start calling clogging up the lines, we will then need to hire more agents and we now have a great excuse to increase the replacement fee to $10 and ask for more state and federal assistance for these added labor costs.
No, these things can’t be done online because that’ll steal away government jobs and we hate that. If we make it so efficient that these simple tasks like these can be done online, we will lose the funds because we lose out on the “need more labor” excuse to the state and feds.
We understand that life will be simpler if everything can be done online, but we’d rather invest in wasting your tax dollars with inefficiencies like these in hopes that you will blindly keep forking over more tax dollars.
We’ll also make the process unnecessarily confusing and entangled with bureaucratic red tape and paperwork so that getting your money back is next to impossible.
We’re betting that 99% of the people won’t go through the trouble to get whatever funds are remaining in the card, especially if it’s a low amount less than $10 dollars. By doing so, we can now scam from TAP owners a dollar here, a five there, and several cents here that are just floating in TAP-space for ourselves and use those funds that add up to millions to help Metro’s finances. We desperately need the cash so we hope you understand all the desperate measures we have to do to steal more money away from you.
Thanks for your understanding,
Big Brother Metro
The Balance Protection for TAP cards is a joke. Why would anyone want to sign up for this?
It costs $5 to transfer info to another card, plus $2 to just buy a new card. What does the $5 fee pay for? The labor cost of some TAP customer service agent pushing a keystroke in front of the computer?
Dude, why not just let us do these ourselves online? Why waste hiring $25,000/yr in customer service agents that people have to call on Metro’s business hours when you can easily save costs by making these simple tasks available online 24/7 instead?
Seriously, who is in charge of such stupidity?
If I lose my credit card and if some thief goes on a shopping spree on it, I’m not liable for anything. I don’t have to pay any “transfer fees” or “fee to get a new credit card issued to me.”
And you wonder why everyone complains about Metro’s customer service! It’s nonexistent!
From TAPtoGo: “What is Balance Protection?
“Balance Protection is a free program that lets you replace a lost or stolen TAP card with its remaining balance or pass information for a $5 fee.” Something is wrong with this sentence,
1. Get rid of the expiration date. We all know it’s BS because TAP is made by the same manufacturer for other transit agencies and they have no expiration dates. There’s no use in Metro to try to concoct with lame excuses that it can’t be done. It’s a hidden tax and you know it! Shame on Metro to try to pull this stunt off thinking we wouldn’t notice! If I put $20 onto my card, I expect those funds to be available whether it’s a week later, a month later, or five years later just like every other transit card in the rest of the world.
2. Make the cards and the funds refundable. If I have $10 remaining on my TAP card and if I decide move out of LA, I want to get back my $10 remaining and return the TAP card and get my $2 deposit back. You have no right to keep my $10 and use it to fund your cash strapped agency.
3. Make that refund process easy and doable online. We don’t want to travel to a Metro Service center just to get our money back. We don’t want to call customer service agents on your business hours and making us wait 30 minutes to bad elevator music just to reach somebody trying to help us.
I have 3 comments for Art Leahy: 1. Fire the person in charge of the Tap Card program and cut your losses. 2. Consider the needs of the tourists first, not the Metro transit Power Users. 3. Mandate a card with no expiration date for locals.
So where’s the app for my phone? NFC phones are being released this fall. are the turnstiles NFC-capable?
Why can’t Metro be more like Singapore? What they do is issue EZ Link cards with a $1 deposit, and when you’re done with it you return the card and get that $1 deposit back. The cards get recycled back into the system which saves money for the agency to keep buying new card stock all the time.
Or how about like Boston? They issue Charlie Cards for free, and they actually encourage Bostonians to move to them by providing cheaper fares with it. Last time I went to Boston, my five year old Charlie Card loaded up with $20 still worked fine. Why can’t LA Metro be more tourist friendly like this? What if I’m a tourist to LA, decide to load up $50 onto my TAP card so that it’ll be good the next time I visit LA, but suddenly if I come back five years later I find that my TAP card expired and I’m out $50?
It seems like everything that Metro does with TAP, they get it wrong. Why can’t Metro just learn from how other cities are doing things right? Are they even listening to our grievances? Do they think we don’t know how other agencies around the world operate?
[…] If You Ride Metro Rail, It’s Time to Buy a TAP Card (The Source) […]
Wow, why all the TAP drama?
They aren’t expensive. They aren’t big and heavy. They are roughly the same size as my credit card, office-access keycard, laundry room card or my ATM card. The basic chip technology is exactly the same as Tokyo, San Francisco, London, Boston, etc. even if the software is different.
If you know about the Source, you probably already use Metro. TAP has been a painstakingly gradual process; it’s not like it suddenly showed up overnight. Furthermore, the TAP card that exists today is much better than the TAP that existed three years ago.
And if Metro made “paper TAP” available…. you’re still buying a TAP card, just a disposable one. What’s the difference?
access card already converted to tap cards
Wow. A lot of Tap confusion out there still. I don’t know why Metro doesn’t have the plastic tickets that NY or Chicago use. Its the same thing as a tap, but it isn’t this hard plastic card I have to carry. (I’m pretty sure it is also cheaper) And like NY and Chicago and any number of transit systems, Metro’s ticket vending machine should have four options. Add Value, Add Pass. Purchase Ticket, Purchase Pass. Make no mention of the purchase of a TAP card.
As a metro commuter and Tap user. It is a great card. I have my pass on there and I have value stored and go to the ticket machine once a month. The rest of the time I speed right through the turnstiles, remembering to Tap.
Huh, a replacement TAP is only $1? Access Paratransit ( http://asila.org/home/ ) is ripping off the disabled by charging a $5 TAP card replacement fee. The replacement card takes a month to process as the result, disabled riders cannot get into the locked gates.
This is from the taptogo.net website:
What is Balance Protection?
Balance Protection is a free program that lets you replace a lost or stolen TAP card with its remaining balance or pass information for a $5 fee. You must sign up for Balance Protection to activate it on your card.
Editor, The Source
I. Do. NOT. “Do.” Facebook.
Regarding the SF MUNI continuing to issue paper tickets, well, they presumably also continue to issue scratch-off 1, 3, and 7-day passes, and the pink one-day passes that cable car conductors sell for the same price as the 1-day scratch-offs.
But more to the point, at least as of the last time I was there (less than a year ago), the Boston “T” still issues both single-trip tickets and 1-day and 7-day passes on your choice of either a magnetically-striped “Charlie ticket” or a “Charlie Card” that appears to be similar to a TAP card. Which seems rather pointless, since my understanding is that the physical Charlie Card itself is free for the asking. And I’m probably going to get a Charlie Card the next time I vacation in Boston (assuming they haven’t abandoned Charlie Tickets by then), because I had some serious difficulties with faregates failing to read my perfectly valid pass (leaving me stuck under Symphony Hall on a cold, wet night, for much longer than I particularly wanted to be there).
Not entirely sure what Chicago, Philadephia, New Orleans, or New York City are doing these days.
What bout those with a green Access Services ID TAP card?
@ Just a person , I (like many) have already given up on Facebook. Metro will be next (and I use it everyday, even though I dont have to). It’s an agency that hates the commuter.
TAP is like the timeline on Facebook, you may not like it, but to avoid it you will have to give up Metro/Facebook.
My mother is a senior who lives out of town, and visits me about once a year. Will she be able to get senior-priced TAP fares at the stations, or will she have to go through a lengthy process in order to get a senior TAP card? (or else pay full fare)
Here’s what I’m told by Metro staff:
Hope this helps!
Editor, The Source
Does TAP’s 3 year use date begin after the first Tap?
@ Ryan King,
TAP cards are only $1 with purchase of a one-way fare. It might be a worthwhile cost for convenience
SF Muni uses the same technology with their Clipper card but continues to offer tappable paper tickets that contain a chip inside of them. Riders who want a one way ticket can use this and avoid the card fee. Why not offer this in LA? It seems unfair and wasteful to charge casual riders and visitors a $2 fee for something they will get limited use of.
For those who ride the rail every blue moon or so would they have to purchase a TAP card?