Transportation headlines, Monday, Sept. 10

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.

A very nice video from New York artist Sophie Blackall, partly about her love of transit in New York. Hat tip to our friends at the Buzzer Blog in Vancouver for the link plus another good story — this one about a New York city bus driver who provides live opera performances for his passengers. I'm not an opera fan, but I've heard worse music on buses for sure.

Four years later, survivors of Metrolink crash still hurting (L.A. Times)

This Wednesday is the fourth anniversary of the crash that killed 25 people and injured 135 when a Metrolink train slammed head-on into a freight train; the Metrolink engineer was later found to have missed a red signal because he was texting. Many victims say their lives and livelihoods have been forever altered due to their injuries and that money from a legal settlement with Metrolink may not be enough to cover their care and other expenses. A federal law caps legal awards at $200 million per rail accident, although a Los Angeles judge said that an award would likely have been $320 million to $350 million if the case had gone to trial.

What's on TAP? Confusion, for some (ZevWeb)

The ongoing conversion at Metro's ticket machines from paper tickets to TAP cards is leaving some tourists and seniors confused. The most common complaint, acknowledged by Metro, is that the machines can be daunting for first-time visitors, especially those who want a simple transaction and don't understand why they need a TAP card and why the system is changing.

Family plans to revive four downtown theaters (Downtown News)

The family that owns the quartet of historic theaters — the Los Angeles Theater, the State, the Place and the Tower — says it will file papers with the city of Los Angeles planning department this week to renovate (where needed) and operate the facilities together. It's part of an ambitious plan to bring more events to the buildings, as well as attract new restaurants and bars in them. It won't be easy, accoring to others — there's no shortage of concert venues in the area — but it would be a major boon for efforts to revive Broadway in downtown. Parking is a concern, but remember: the Regional Connector will have a station at 2nd and Broadway.

Putting Bay Area’s water source to a vote (New York Times)

Not a transportation story per se, but San Francisco voters will consider a ballot measure in November that could lead to the draining of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park, meaning San Francisco would have to find most of its water elsewhere. I’m including the story here because if government had its way, the reservoir will never be drained. But government doesn’t always have its way. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was known as being similar to the Yosemite Valley before it became a lake — and before the Yosemite Valley became known for its traffic jams.


14 replies

  1. With regards to TAP, there are plenty of legal grounds for a class action lawsuit against Metro. I bet the people over at Beverly Hills would love to hear this scam.

    Or Metro can risk wasting another billions in lawsuits and admit they made a mistake. It is really that simple: get rid of the expiration date like everywhere else and make any funds left in the cash purse fully refundable.

    Metro’s choice.

  2. Actually, Frequent Flyer…

    “No. Only you are authorized to use the TAP card assigned to you.” – From

    The reason your friends or family can use a TAP card you purchased for them is that (I’m assuming) you don’t report the card stolen when they are out and about with your card(s).

    Anna Chen
    The Source, Contributor

  3. “Reloadable prepaid debit cards not intended for gift giving purposes”

    What’s preventing me from buying TAP online, filling up with $20 with my own credit card, and giving that TAP for my friends and family that will be visiting LA?

    There’s no rule or regulation stating that TAP cards can’t be gifted.

  4. @ Kevin W

    Per federal law would probably fall under the prepaid debate card category since the card can be refilled with value again and it is not intend for gift giving purposes.

    Exceptions to Federal Law

    The federal law excludes the following cards:

    Reloadable prepaid debit cards not intended for gift giving purposes/

  5. Just a person,

    Above state law is federal law:

    12 CFR 205.20 (US Code of Federal Regulations)
    Definition of gift cards/certificates: ““issued on a prepaid basis primarily for personal, family, or household purposes to a consumer in a specified amount.”

    Federal law outlines what gift cards/certificates are and outranks state law.

    The TAP card’s cash purse option is a prepaid option. If you top off $100 onto the TAP card, you’re not purchasing $100 worth of rides, that $100 is still there in the card and is yours. Every time you ride the bus or rail when you tap-in, it deducts $1.50.

    At the end of expiration date, you are left with $50 on the card. Whose $50 is that? Metro’s or mine? How do I get my $50 back? And no, I do not need another TAP card. I can decide I want to move out of LA. So what is the SOP to get back my $50 on the TAP card? Or does Metro steal the $50 left on the card and use it to fund their cash strapped agency? Do you think that is fair?

    Now replace TAP with “Starbucks Gift Card.” You load up $100 onto the Starbucks Gift Card. Everytime you drink a latte, the card deducts the value from the card. You have $10 left on the card. In California, you can get your $10 back.

    So what is the difference between a Starbucks Gift Card and TAP? They are both clearly prepaid cards which deducts money as you use it. One is private enterprise following the rules of federal and state laws, the other is a government agency who thinks they have no obligation to follow federal and state laws.

    Please explain.

    • Ken W.,
      You failed to read down to the “Exclusions”

      (2) Reloadable and not marketed or
      labeled as a gift card or gift certificate.
      For purposes of this paragraph (b)(2),
      the term ‘‘reloadable’’ includes a temporary
      non-reloadable card issued solely
      in connection with a reloadable
      card, code, or other device;

      That sounds like a TAP, I am not a lawyer.

  6. The TAP problem is why people say Metro has no people skills and a great example of Metro arrogance. But hey, what do you expect from a government agency that barks orders us to do something and expect the public to follow?

    In sharp contrast, look at how private enterprise handles things much more efficiently. Look at the airline industry for example: in less than a decade, they switched from paper tickets to e-tickets and everyone knows how to use the automated kiosks at check-in.

    How did the airline industry encourage flyers to do this? Simple: incentives. They gave out free frequent flier miles for using them. They gave people airline discounts to those that used them. They encouraged people to move to them by offering incentives like these.

    TAP has nothing like that. All the benefit is for them and nothing for us. Do we get cheaper fares for using TAP? No. Do we get ripped off every three years for using them because it expires, you lose your funds, and you have no way of getting your money back? Yes. And Metro thinks people will love TAP?

    Metro needs to go back to Marketing 101. People don’t switch habits unless there’s something in it for them. And no, the ease of use of just tapping in ain’t enough. There has to be real financial incentive here. You want us to use TAP? Give us cheaper fares for using them. Get rid of the stupid expiration date. Make the funds fully refundable, not the “oh, but we can transfer funds over to a new pass,” no, give me back my money when I ask for it, period. No ifs and buts. TAP is not a product, it’s a reloadable gift card, and being a gift card, it is bound BY STATE LAW to follow the California Gift Card Law.

  7. Two nuclear plants would provide more electric power, and, by desalination of seawater, more fresh water than does Hetch Hetchy. We only have to spend about $12 billion and we can get the Valley back without depriving anyone of clean power or water.

  8. “If you’d read even one history book you’d know that if there had never been a Hetch Hetchy water system, there never would have been a City of San Francisco.”

    Considering the population of San Francisco was well over half a million people before the first drop of Hetch Hetchy water even reached the city, I doubt that.

    • Hi Robb;

      Good point. And you saved me from going home this evening and having to count history-type books in the house. Whew!

      As for me being uninformed, perhaps OJ could read the initial post again. The reason I included the news headline is that I think it’s fascinating that voters have a chance to undo something so many different public officials want to keep. Not to mention it’s an issue so embedded in the history of the park system and involves John Muir and the early days of the nation’s enviornmental movement.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  9. Clearly you are uninformed about the Hetch Hetchy system. It supplies water not just to SF but it also supplies public power to the City and water to millions of people out side of SF. Moreover there are no alternative sources that are clean enough or abundant enough to accommodate the current population, much less the many people moving here. If you’d read even one history book you’d know that if there had never been a Hetch Hetchy water system, there never would have been a City of San Francisco.

    Try reading and thinking for yourself instead of just accepting as gospel truth what some hairy hippie activist tells you for once. Maybe then people won’t hate on transit and sustainability blogs so much.