Wednesday, 30 June 2010

adventures in tapland

Dear L.A. Metro Transit:

When in NY, get a Metro Card.  When in London, get an Oyster Card.

When in LA, fumble around for lost change.

In other cities - in almost every other city, there is not only quick and easy transit around the city, there are quick and easy ways to access that transit.  In LA, bus fares are $1.25, except if they're not.  Except if you get on a Culver City bus, a Santa Monica bus, a Dash, a Rapid....

There are no transfers.  Well, except if you're going between an LA Metro and a Culver City, a Culver City and a Santa Monica or well, I'm not really sure.

Four busses will cost you $5.00 - except when it doesn't - even if it's just a round-trip.  A day pass will cost you $5 - which is at least 4 busses in a day, except when that is actually less money than a day pass for which you overpaid.

You can buy a monthly pass - a supposed savings - but that is only possible by calendar month.  So if you want to buy a monthly pass, but you are here from June 15th to July 15th, well, then you would have to buy weekly passes instead, which would cost you more and you'd have to go four times to purchase them.

Imagine my thrill and excitement upon learning about the new TAP Card on your website. A-ha!  LA has joined the ranks of the initiated - one card to rule them all!

From your website:
While not a pass in itself, the TAP card is an important innovation for L.A. County transit riders. The durable plastic card contains a smart chip that allows you to buy and electronically load Metro passes, participating regional and local transit line passes, electronic cash, or any combination of the three. In other words, TAP becomes your "transit fare wallet" – holding your passes and cash, paying fares to the exact penny, and freeing you up from carrying around loose change. It even recognizes free transfers!
Well, sort of.

Where can you get a TAP card?  Um, some random check cashing places.

Ok - go to random check cashing place.  Ask for TAP card.  It costs $2.00.  This is not a deposit - it is a cost.  Ask for $10 on the card.  This cannot be done.  I can have a day pass or a week pass.  I don't want a day pass or a week pass.  I want the "electronic cash" option.  The free me up from carrying around loose change option.

Not possible.

Okay - if I buy a day pass does it have to be for today?


Okay.  But I'm not taking transit today.

I buy the card, figuring I can add cash on line, like it says on the website.

Well, sort of.

I can  buy another TAP Card, and have it mailed to me.  With a day, week, or month pass on it.

I can't actually register the TAP Card I have.  And I can't put the cash option on it.

So, I dialed the customer service number:

No, you can't do that online. 
But your website says I can.
No, you can't do that where you bought it.
But it says I can on your website.
No, if you read carefully, and click here, and here and here, then you will see the list of places that you can add cash onto the TAP Card, and NONE OF THEM are in the Los Angeles Metro Zone.
Excuse me?
Yes, m'am, you have to leave Los Angeles, put money on the card, and then come back.  Say, you go to Culver City and you can put money on the card and then use it in the Metro system.
I'm sorry - I need to ghetto money onto my TAP Card?  And I need to go to the Culver City Town Hall to do that?
It's a pilot program, m'am, we are still experimenting with what works best.
A pilot program?  When every other city in the world already has this?

So there I am calculating the additional bus fare to go to Culver City for no reason other than to put money onto my $2 TAP Card.  Can this be real?  LA - can you really be this not together?

I want to be a pedestrian. I really really do.  One huge reason I left this city so I could not be chained to a vehicle.

Does it really have to be this hard?


Bitchy Winans

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