A few notes on the Metrolink TAP-enabled tickets

If you hold the ticket up to the light, you'll see where the antennae is embedded.

If you hold the ticket up to the light, you’ll see where the antennae is embedded.

Now that Metrolink riders have their new TAP-enabled tickets, they should have no problems getting through the Metro fare gates. Just to make sure everything goes smoothly though, a few quick tips.

  • Don’t fold or bend the antennae embedded in the ticket. This could damage the antennae and prevent it from working. The best way to keep the ticket in working order is to keep it in a pass case or wallet. However…
  • Credit cards, rewards cards, expired TAP-enabled tickets or smart phones could interfere with the antennae. This bit of anec-data has only been passed around a few times so far, but it seems the magnetic strip or NFC (near field communication) chip can mess with the antennae signal. So if you’re having trouble getting your Metrolink pass to work at a TAP reader, check to make sure you don’t have your ticket layered on a bunch of other cards or old passes.
  • Finally, when tapping your Metrolink ticket, don’t cover the antennae with your fingers. If you cover the antennae, the TAP reader may not be able to pick up the signal. To ensure optimal TAP ease, hold the ticket by the bar code side. Scan one side for Metrolink, TAP the other for Metro!

Categories: Best Practices

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25 replies

  1. Anna, the bit about what tickets get a T.A.P. RFID chip is unclear. If I buy a ticket from Oxnard to Oceanside, I will “traverse” Los Angeles County, but I believe I will not get a ticket with a chip in it.

    There are also questions about round-trip tickets originating in Los Angeles where the person may wish to transfer for free to Metro upon their return, which they used to be able to before the turnstile debacle.

    Idea for a post.

  2. NOTICE OF VIOLATION(S) OF GRAMMAR CODE SEC. 13.06.13(b): “Antennae” is a plural (and is usually used only in a zoological context). “Antenna” is the singular form of the word.

    This notice shall serve as a warning only. As this appears to be your first violation(s), the Grammar Police Department shall not be notified of at this time assuming said violations have been corrected in full.

    Grammar Code Sec. 13.06.13(b) is posted for public consumption at http://dictionary.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/antennae

  3. Will all MetroLink tickets be “TAP Enabled” Example, daily, and weekend pass?

    • Hi Gibblett,

      Yes, all Metrolink paper tickets on lines that traverse L.A. County are TAP enabled.

      Anna Chen
      The Source, Writer

  4. NFC tech works like this: (1) Print a circuit that will respond with a burst of information when it passes an electrical field (2) build a device that generates an electrical field and listens for bursts of data. The card is inert and like most cards one will ever get, has no measurable field of its own. Other cards don’t really interact with each card directly; the issue is when two NFC cards pass through the same field at the same time and corrupt the data being collected.

    Magnets are another matter entirely.

  5. Lets’ be clear: many agencies, including Metrolink, and for a good long while Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines wanted NOTHING to do with TAP. SMMBL didn’t like how TAP would mess with their operarations (it took YEARS for them to change their mind) and Metrolink’s CEO before last (responsible, it seems, for all of Metrolink’s ills) was utter hostile towards TAP with utterly no plans to cope with it, as if utterly ignored, unless MTA wanted to pay for 100% of Metrolink’s upgrade. In short, some agencies felt TAP was rammed in without their input, so the desire NOT to cooperate prevailed.

    MTA used to claim that NOT having a system like TAP SAVED MTA LOTS of money not only because of the mammoth costs to implement such a hardware/software system, but that the “honor system” resulted in at least the same compliance, but with ADDED safety as Sherrif’s deputies and LAPD were at stations and on trains to check for tickets.

    Then, as of a few years ago, MTA changed it tune and started claiming they were LOSING money and that justified the huge, bug ridden, multi-million to start-up and still lots of money to maintain “sexy” chip oriented fare system. I had always wondered how long it would be before the MTA would change the, what we were told the facts, to suite handing tons of money to a contractor for that company’s lucrative bid to outfit a city like LA. Long enough, it seems.

  6. In San Francisco, there’s a singular, centralized government authority called the Metropolitan Transportation Commission which is able to central command all the mass transit operators in the Bay Area. It’s a separate agency all by itself.


    It’s a central government authority which brings every mass transit operator in the Bay Area together, BART, MUNI, VTA, Caltrain, etc. My having the MTC, it allows for a smoother flow in getting things done and coming up with solutions together.

    LA however, Metro wants to do things their way and expects everyone else to follow their lead. There is no centralized organization, it’s just one big agency telling what others how to do.

    The outcome of this is like Metro saying to others “move to TAP because we’re the biggest and the most powerful mwahahahaha!” and the rest saying “screw you, who put you in charge?!”

    Metro needs to stop acting like a bigot and start working together with other agencies. Often times, you hear them say “they are a small city” like looking down upon them. That’s not a great way to make friends.

  7. The sad thing is that no other city in the world except L.A. has a problem in getting everyone onboard the same technology.

    San Francisco Bay Area has multiple transit agencies just like the L.A. Yet AC Transit, BART, Caltrain, Golden Gate Bridge & Ferry, SF MUNI, SamTrans, VTA, SF Bay Ferry all got together and made the Clipper Card accepted across all of these transit agencies.

    Why can San Francisco get their act together but not L.A.?

  8. Metro can’t win. Just move to another city, get a car, get a bike, or appreciate the improvements Metro has made over that last five years. Sheeeesh.

  9. @Explorer: The T.A.P. program is a creation of LA Metro, so any issues regarding its implementation lies in their lap. One time used RFID cards (like the new Metrolink tickets) are susceptible to hacking.

  10. How much is this costing tax payers? Sounds very wasteful use of taxpayer money to keep issuing one-time use RFID embedded paper tickets when they can just issue a single plastic TAP card that can be used multiple times for eternity. Who’s at fault here? Metro or Metrolink? By now everyone agency should already be on TAP. The simplest of things takes forever to get done in LA.

  11. Don’t fold or bend the paper ticket antennae embedded in the ticket. Keep it away from cards, rewards cards, expired TAP-enabled tickets or smart phones.

    What could possibly go wrong, eh?

    Hey, will this thing jam a pacemaker? Set off a TSA alarm? Get me flagged for NSA monitoring? A free donut?

    • Hans,

      It’s possible that you could have a super ticket that can be read even when tucked in the middle of War and Peace (and get you that free donut!). But on the off chance you find yourself having some trouble, I hope these tips can help you self-troubleshoot before calling in the big guns.

      Happy traveling!

      Anna Chen
      The Source, Writer

  12. @Erik, I see. Thank you. Maybe I should have read the instructions. : )

  13. @Transit Rider: Metrolink says you are not to use the T.A.P. readers on the busses; just show the ticket to the driver.

  14. Is Metro going to roll out one-time use Paper TAP to all consumers? I think distributing a paper tap card would be more efficient than having one-time/spontaneous riders buy a plastic card. It will also help people who have TAP cards who might forget it one day.

    • Hi John,

      There are no plans to do so at this time.

      Anna Chen
      The Source, Writer

  15. The ink on my pass didn’t apply well to the ticket, and it continues to rub off. This concern might be better directed towards Metrolink, though.

    • Hi Chris,

      Perhaps a clear plastic ticket keeper to save your pass while Metrolink works on the ink? If you pass through Union Station, Metrolink often hands out free pass cases at their kiosk in East Portal.

      Anna Chen
      The Source, Writer

  16. I had a bit of trouble with mine a few months ago. It worked fine at the turnstyles, but read “invalid” on the bus TAP reader. I only had to show the operator that it was valid. To add to th trouble however, after midnight (when the Metrolink pass expired) Drivers would not honor it. Luckily I was was within survivalist walking distance of the subway, TAPed and the pass was valid. It confused me.