Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Militant TAPs Into The Future!

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 can say he was all TAPped out.

Speaking of firsts, the Militant also got to ride one of these babies today:


Anonymous said...

hey militant, I'm not clear on what the point of the TAP thing is...why not just buy a paper monthly/weekly card and carry it around like usual? I don't get it.

also, the first time I rode one of the new silver cars, I was bummed that they made the buckling space between them narrower, so that I couldn't turn my bike around, and plus, they moved the handles in these spaces, where I used to tie my bike down with a bungee, and it seemed like there was nowhere to tie it, so I just sat in the aisle and my bike blocked things a little.

how did you fare?

Militant Angeleno said...

anon: The point of the TAP card is to get Metro riders used to using it...eventually it's meant to be a stored-value transit pass. It also saves time in that A bus driver doesn't have to spend their time looking for invalid passes. A TAP card beeps when it's valid, and that's it. The Militant tried it agan today; he keeps his TAP card in his wallet and tested out simply placing his wallet over the sensor - it beeped!

He's yet to try it on a Metro bus farebox TAP sensor, though that will change soon :)

Unknown said...

mmmmmm shinny new trains

Mike said...

Oh Militant, please, I'm begging you and everyone... enough with the "broke my cherry" reference when you try something new. I see it written so often... and I just don't get why everyone has to go there.
Sorry Militant, love ya as always, but I had to vent.

Ed Greenberg said...

I hope this TAP thing won't affect my EZ Pass. For $70/month, I get about 20 different transit agencies including Metro and LADOT -- the ones I actually use. For an additional $18, I get a P1 sticker that lets me go over the Sepulveda Pass on the LADOT Commuter Express.

So far I've used it on the two lines mentioned above, and also on the Big Blue Bus (Santa Monica) when I went to an evening meeting there.

I then took the SM-1 to the 233 to the Orange Line, all on that same pass.


Militant Angeleno said...

[Note to self:

Things Franklin Ave. Mike does not like; Do not depict or mention in blog:

1. Oversized fingernails on murals.
2. Metaphors for virginity loss
3. ?

Militant Angeleno said...

Ed: The longterm goal is to get every single transit agency on board with the TAP program (only Metro and Culver City Bus are doing it to date; Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, LADOT/DASH and Santa Clarita Transit are the next to sign on). Once they all do then the EZ pass will go the way of the stegosaurus.

Anonymous said...

Alright, this is going to sound kind of odd but can you, Mr. Militant Angeleno, take your TAP Card and demonstrate how it is used in buses as well?

Anonymous said...

Okay. You pay for a month's worth of TAP card. Then you forget to tap it as you race for the train. According to the MTA you'd possibly be fined if caught. But why? You've paid for a month's worth of travel (just like the paper passes).

I understand buying weekly or monthly TAP passes, but why the need to TAP. And why punish those who fail to do so?

Don't get it.