The Spanish version of this story is here.
Outside the Westlake/MacArthur Park station, Gustavo Rivas smiles warmly at people approaching a Metro information stand. “Would you like to know if you qualify for a free, unlimited 90-day transit pass?” He asks.
The young man is on a mission: providing information about a Metro program called Low Income Fare is Easy (LIFE), which helps low-income passengers by subsidizing their trips on public transportation.
Gustavo is part of the LIFE Street Teams that Metro has deployed outside several stations along its six rail lines. Their efforts have paid off – they’ve registered more than 1,000 people in October alone. The team, which is contracted through Lee Andrews Group, provides information about LIFE, answers passenger’ questions about the program and assists with the registration process.
“Passengers tell us that the LIFE program helps them a lot financially, especially when they learned that after the 90-day free pass expires, people can still load 20 free regional trips each month. They are also happy that we are there to answer their questions,” says Gustavo.
Enrollment is easy. The first thing the LIFE Street Teams do is verify that your income is within the eligibility limits (you can see the eligibility table here) and ask you for identification. Once those requirements are met, they’ll fill out an application, including your name, date of birth, address, cell phone number, and the numbers on the back of your TAP card. No TAP? No problem! A card will arrive at your home within 15 business days after completing your application.
“Passengers come to us with different questions,” explains Gustavo. One of them is what type of identification is accepted for the application. “You can present a California ID, a passport from any country or a consular registration… We only ask that the document is not expired,” he says. Passengers are often surprised to learn about combined discounts, too. “For example, if you already have a senior discount, you can also get the LIFE program.”
Gustavo, who lives in Huntington Park and started taking transit as a child with his grandmother, says he sometimes sees the passengers he helped register again. “It feels nice when they tell you how much LIFE helps them in their daily lives.”
Xiclalilt Cabrera, 22, also a member of the LIFE Street Teams, is motivated by providing opportunities to others. During a recent shift at the 7th St/Metro Center station on the B line, she heard the story about a woman who lost her job during the pandemic and was able to get help from the LIFE program. That helped her get to her job interviews and land a job. “People are excited to know that a program like this exists,” says the young woman.
Riders come to her with many questions, including how the trips are counted. “Many believe that every time they get on a train or bus it is one less trip for them, but that is not always the case… When you make a transfer or a connection, that is considered a single trip if you do it within two hours.”
Other passengers believe they can no longer request LIFE because they stopped using their TAP card for a while. “But there is a solution,” Xiclalilt explains. You can call the number behind your TAP [1-866-827-8646] to reactivate the LIFE benefits and start getting the 20 free rides every month again.
The young woman, a resident of East Los Angeles, says that being bilingual helps her reach more passengers. “Some people are afraid to speak English, but when they hear you speak Spanish, they feel more comfortable,” Xiclalilt explains. At every Metro information stand, there is at least one member of the LIFE Street Teams who speaks Spanish, and they are all ready to help you. “Don’t be afraid to ask, we will welcome you here with a big smile.”
Members of LIFE Street Teams receive all kinds of questions, but there is one that is asked most of all. What to do once the 90 days of free travel are over? The short answer: your benefits continue. At the beginning of your fourth month in the program, you will still be eligible to load 20 free rides each month to use on Metro buses and trains or at any of the 13 participating transit agencies (full list here). To receive the passes, you will have to activate them every month — yes, the process sounds a little tedious, which is why we give you three ways to do it.
- Call 1-866-TAPTOGO (1-866-827-8646) and speak to a customer service representative in English or Spanish.
- Visit the website www.taptogo.net/ and activate the passes from your computer.
Once you enroll in the LIFE program, you can earn 20 free rides every month for years. Don’t miss this opportunity!
Categories: Transportation News