TAP is coming in March to the Big Blue Bus!

Photo by Paul Kimo McGregor via Flickr creative commons.

Photo by Paul Kimo McGregor via Flickr creative commons.

Freshly posted to the Big Blue Bus website:

TAP is coming to Santa Monica Big Blue Bus!
Starting March 2015, you can pay with Stored Value, an EZ transit pass on your TAP card or with your Access ID card. You no longer need to show your card to the bus operator. Instead, tap your card on the validator as you board the bus. For fast and convenient boarding:

  • Tap your card on the validator.
  • Look for the green screen that shows your card is valid.
  • Board the bus and enjoy the ride.

TAP is a durable plastic card that can be used again and again for faster, safer boarding. Load your TAP card ahead of time for seamless travel throughout LA County.

Keep visiting us for future updates or sign up for email alerts at BigBlueBus.com/emailalerts and select “Rider Updates.”

This is a big deal because the Big Blue Bus, while based in Santa Monica, is one of the larger muni bus lines in Los Angeles County. The Big Blue Bus also provides service well beyond Santa Monica’s borders to important destinations, including downtown Santa Monica, the beach, LAX and UCLA, among others. Here’s the route map (click on it to see larger version).


TAP cards are available for $1 from ticket machines at all Metro Rail stations and Metro Orange Line stations. TAP cards can also be purchased from vendors across Los Angeles County, online at the taptogo.net website or by phone at 866.TAPTOGO (827-8646).

Answer to a question I know many will ask: stored value purchased from Metro (at our ticket machines, taptogo.net, by phone or from a Metro vendor) can be used to pay fares on the Big Blue Bus in March and all agencies that participate in TAP.

At this time, that list includes Antelope Valley Transit, Culver City Bus, Foothill Transit, Gardena, LADOT DASH and Commuter Express buses, Long Beach Transit, Montebello Bus Lines, Monterey Park, Norwalk Transit, Palos Verdes Peninsula Transit Authority, Pasadena ARTS bus, Santa Clarita Transit, Torrance Transit (Line 4 only)

20 replies

  1. It is to bad Metrolink doesn’t join the party and accept the TAP card..It would make transferring between the lines so much easier.

    • Metrolink runs on a distance based fare system (requires TAP-in AND TAP-out), every other municipal agency runs on a flat rate system (TAP-in only).

      Unless Metrolink adopts a flat rate system (they will never agree to that idea) or other municipal agencies adopt a distance based fare system (they don’t like that idea either), we’ll never have 100% full compatibility.

      Of course doesn’t mean it can’t be done; ClipperCard does the same exact thing with flat rate fare MUNIs and distance based fare BART and Caltrain.

  2. I have a disabled TAP card and just to clarify any amount I put on there like say $20 dollars will now work with BBB as well then at the $0.50 disabled rate?

    • Not until March of 2015. And then, make sure the driver/operator is clear that you are entitled to the SMBBB disabled fare!

  3. Will this effect Student ID cards with Santa Monica College? Will you still have the magnetic swipe as well for them?

    • Hi Patrick;

      Mag stripe cards will still be able to be tapped but not on the tap device. There will still be a swipe for them.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. That’s great news! Will we be able to transfer with the TAP card, or will we still need to pay for a paper transfer with cash?

    • Hi Mid;

      If you are transferring with a mag stripe card from BBB to Metro you need to buy a paper transfer. If you are transferring to BBB from Metro, you can load it on your TAP. Note: you can’t load an interagency transfer into TAP aboard the BBB buses right now.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • BBB is supposed to be issuing chipped paper TAP tickets (single-use) to riders who request them (and are transferring to gated rail stations such as Rapid 7 to Wilshire/Western).

        In practice, this takes much back-and-forth with the increasingly flustered operator, who is busy enough dealing with Westside traffic. And then if in fact the chip in your paper TAP ticket actually works, well, then consider yourself lucky!

    • Since the Minister has neglected his duties, Dra, the answer is no. Your 30-day LACMTA (Metro) pass is only good on routes operated by LACMTA (Metro). So that will not work on a Santa Monica (Municipal) Big Blue Bus, sorry.

      Of course, if we had a unified regional fare tariff in the greater Los Angeles area, this might not be a problem, but for now, the decision-makers in Southern California would really rather you lease a shiny new automobile from their campaign-contributing dealer friends.

  5. And when will we get the updated TAP website that was promised by “end of last year?”

    It’s already December 2014. A year has already passed since the deadline of end of last year.

    • Barring any new announcements, BBB management may be as clueless as the Metro honchos who blessed the original TAP web site ‘design’. I was going to trot out the ObStevieWonder joke but it occurs to me, is TAPTOGO even handicap accessible?

      As long as Metro is totally dependent on a contractor (Cubic) to maintain and improve TAPTOGO the latter will milk the relationship to the fullest. Metro still doesn’t seem technically competent or ‘transparent’ enough yet to involve customers with TAP upgrades.

      Another new contract with Cubic was issued: http://cloud-computing.tmcnet.com/news/2014/10/31/8098285.htm

    • Hi Juli;

      Let me check — I’ll post answer here as soon as I get it.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Hi Juli,

      Yes, stored value on a disabled TAP card will work and the proper Big Blue Bus fare will be deducted. That is the case for all agencies.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source