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MTA wants customers to learn to spell T-A-P

December 9, 2008 |  6:13 am

TAP card Transit officials in Los Angeles County are about to go on a PR blitz to persuade transit riders to buy a TAP card. It's part of their effort to follow the lead of many other cities around the world that have made paying bus and rail fares easier.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been using the TAP cards for months now, but are only starting to make them more readily available and functional. The idea has always been appealing -- users tap the cards against a machine that deducts the fare from the card -- but riders have been slow to embrace the idea, perhaps because the cards aren't for sale from ticket machines.

So, the MTA is trying to change that. Among some of the details they told reporters in a TAP card briefing Monday morning:

1. The plastic TAP cards will soon replace paper weekly and monthly passes -- in other words, you'll have to use them. Users can reload the cards online, at ticket machines at MTA rail stations and at locations that sell the cards. The MTA is also talking about expanding the number of places you can buy TAP cards -- for example, selling them in supermarkets -- and say that in the first half of 2009 the TAP cards will be available for purchase from rail ticket machines.

2. The cards can be used to get through the gates that the MTA is going to start erecting at many of its rail stations beginning next summer.

3. The MTA is going to keep pushing to have the cards work on other agencies' buses or trains. As of now, TAP cards work on Culver City buses, but the MTA says they're going to try to partner up with other big agencies such as Foothill Transit and Metrolink.

In theory, it sounds workable. But in case you don't feel like carrying one of these around or managing your TAP account, the MTA says it will still accept cash as payment.

--Steve Hymon

Photo: Richard Hartog/Los Angeles Times