Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

How to pay per ride with your TAP card

Just last week Metro launched Live Help Beta, an instant chat service for would-be riders in need of assistance. Serendipitously, last week was also when I decided to take the Metro more often to green the way I get around town. So far, the Metro 10′s been quite reliable — but finding $1.50 in change for every ride’s been challenging. So today, I tried Live Hep Beta to see if the much-touted TAP card might make it easier to pay for my fare. Here’s how that conversation went:


The lay Metro rider would conclude from that exchange that the TAP card isn’t a viable option for the occasional rider. But Pacific Swell readers may remember that not too long ago, we hosted a chat here titled Living Car Free in Southern California. If you joined the chat, you know how to skirt around Metro’s tap restrictions because guest expert Dan Koeppel of Big Parade LA revealed a lesser-known TAP car trick for transit takers:

for those of you interested in the convenience of TAP passes – though LA Metro will only sell them in the daily/weekly/monthly formats, which can be inconvenient for those of us who don’t know how often we’ll be using mass transit, you can buy a “cash value” TAP card from Foothill Transit or Culver City transit, which will then work in the entire LA system. It debits the cost of one ride every time you use it, and you can also use the value on it to buy a day pass, if you need one.

So if you want to put a cash value on your TAP card and have $1.50 deducted from that value every time you get on Metro, you know how to do it. The bad news is that although you can buy Metro’s TAP passes online or at a bunch of drug and grocery stores near you (and forfeit the opportunity to pay-per-ride), you have to purchase cash value TAP cards or refills in person through the Culver City Bus at one of two places in Culver City or through Foothill Transit at the El Monte Transit Center, according to Dan.

Since I don’t have plans to ride to either place anytime soon, I’ll be scrounging for change for now. How do you pay for your Metro and other public transit rides?