TAPped for the very first time!
TAP card, take two, at Universal City station.
The Militant leaped in to the 21st Century on Wednesday afternoon when he bought a Metro TAP Card monthly pass at Union Station's (M) Customer Service Center. He then proceeded to the Gold Line's TAP terminal where he popped his TAP cherry, so to speak. Having done this sort of thing in other countries, this wasn't a total paradigm shift for the Militant, but it is a different way of doing things in his native environs. He simply held the card with one hand, brought it close to the circular TAP sensor on top of the terminal, and one sweet beep and a couple LED blinks later, he's in.
Metro only offers TAP cards for weekly ($17) and monthly ($62) passes, but they are eventually meant to be reusable, stored-value cards which can be recharged at Metro Customer Centers and ticket vending machines. The Militant plans to do a lot of Metro riding this month so he's taking one for the team.
What's interesting is that the card looks the same whether it's the weekly or monthly pass. At the moment, it's a "use it or lose it" policy where it can't be TAPped beyond its weekly or monthly expiration date; but if a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. Deputy asks to see your proof of fare payment, how can they tell your TAP is valid? The Militant has yet to see them hold handheld TAP scanners, so maybe this might be one way you can get away with things, for the time being (you didn't hear it from the Militant, though...and if they do have TAP scanners, well, you're SOL).
The Militant wonders what the future of TAP will be. Its integration into the much-talked about fare barrier system that Metro may or may not implement in the near future has already been discussed. But Hong Kong's Octopus Card allows users to use their stored value card on not just trains, buses and trolleys, but taxis, ferryboats, vending machines, fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and even parking meters and parking lots. Hmmm... Imagine...
Culver City's municipal transit agency also uses the very same TAP card, though the Militant isn't sure whether a TAP bought from a Metro Customer Center can be used on a Culver Citybus. Their website says you need to get a transfer to "other agencies" when you TAP, though Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus, which uses the Little Blue Card, is one such agency that connects with the Culver buses but isn't yet TAP-ready.
The Militant spent the rest of the day, bike in tow, riding various trains, delightfully TAPping away and making a biking/shopping trip to Sherman Oaks before heading back to the compound...you can say he was all TAPped out.
Speaking of firsts, the Militant also got to ride one of these babies today: