And Now A Tutorial On How To “Hack” Yourself To A Metro TAP Card Without Really Trying (Or Ending Up Getting One)

As far back as 1995 when the base MTA fare was $1.35, savvy passengers could hook themselves up with one of the unsung bargains in the city — a bag of 10 tokens for $9 — and save themselves 40 45 cents with every ride. Then came 2003 when the MTA cagily did away with transfers, dropped the fare to $1.25 and debuted the $3 all-day sucker (now $5). As that dreaded Dawn of the Day Pass approached I did a genius thing: I went into my local liquor store and loaded up on several bags worth of never-say-die tokens, and seeing as how I’m only a now-and-again patron, in the six-years since I’ve been enjoying the convenience and discount of a one-coin, 90-cent fare whenever I board a bus or train.

Alas, the eventual day has finally come where I find myself down to my last few tokens, and while they’re still sold in bags of 10 it’s at $12.50, no longer at any discount. With that bargain gone as well as the news that fare gates are starting to sprout up at various rail stations (and I hate having to deal with having exact change), I figured the time was right for me to get myself upgraded to one of them newfangled reloadable Transit Access Pass (TAP) cards that are all the rage.


But off to I went where I clicked on the TAP card section and was taken to a Base Fares & Tokens page that gave me another link to a TAP Card page that finally assured me I could purchase one online, and gave me another link to do so. Yet when I clicked it up popped this thing of fail, of course:


At first I thought about submitting a comment alerting the MTA to the error, but I figured since it was the MTA and I’m deeply entrenched in middle age I might be dead before they got around to fixing the glitch. So instead I read the error message and since it was a bad secure connection issue decided to see what would happen if I took the “s” out of the “https” of the following address:

Sure enough, all that got me was a 404 Page Not Found error, so then I scrubbed off all that go_b.?ble/dy=gOOk after the dotnet, so the address looked like this:

Voila, I was where I needed to be no thanks to MTA’s state-of-the-art web portal.

But am I now the happy soon-to-be TAP cardholder? Of course I’m not. Because no thanks to the patently lame way is set up, it turns out that my bad URL-dodging skills were wasted and I was no closer to setting myself up as a card-carrying TAPper.

See, in any basic online experience of this nature, you’d think I should’ve been able to purchase a card pre-loaded with a certain amount, or an amount of my choosing. But Taptogo’s shopping experience wouldn’t allow that. Pffft. It kept rejecting my attempts to check out with the 1 Blue TAP Card in my cart, telling me I need to also buy my choice of three separate monthly passes at $62, $80 or $98 — passes which I don’t want or need. Because monthly passes expire.

So I called Taptogo’s customer service number and of course I got the most impatient don’t-you-know-it’s-Friday-afternoon-and-I’m-done-being-helpful representative who told me what I already new: that the only way to get a TAP card online was to also buy a monthly pass.

“But I don’t need or want a monthly pass.”

“Then you can’t get a TAP card online.”

“OK, can I get one from you?

Not without also buying a monthly pass.”

“Then where can I get a TAP card.”

“You can’t get one online without a monthly pass.”

“Right. Got that. Is there any place in the greater metropolitan area that I can physically go and get one?”

“Union Station.”

“Great, thanks.”


Nope. Click.

So until Metrodotlame and Taptogodotfail can figure out and implement some basic no-brainer internet point-of-purchase fundamentals, it’s “Taps” for TAP cards as far as I’m concerned. Full-priced tokens, here I come.

9 thoughts on “And Now A Tutorial On How To “Hack” Yourself To A Metro TAP Card Without Really Trying (Or Ending Up Getting One)”

  1. I got my tap card for $2.00 at the Check Cashing place that used to sell monthly passes.

    When you pay for the day pass, you should ask the bus driver first (sometimes the machine is not working) He then tells you to wait a sec and then put the tap card to the spot that it is validated. A beep will sound when your card is certified to be a day pass.

  2. I totally hate the TAP card. Yet, every month I visit that janky of janky websites, cross my fingers and put in another $62 for the month. Progress son! Progress…

  3. @ waltarrrrr:

    Almost as bad as trying to do it at the damn machine in the subway station! Will it or will it not be accepting credit cards today?

  4. I’m so glad someone mentioned this. I started riding the metro when I moved downtown last month, and it has been a impossible task to get a tap card. I tried online with the same results. Then I looked at physical places near where I live and work where I could buy a tap card. I’ve visited 5 places so far and they all say they don’t carry the TAP card anymore. Why is this so hard?

    You would think the city would be pushing reusable cards more. Don’t most cities have paper cards with mag stripes that can be recharged?

  5. you need to get a Culver City tap card. you can put any amount of money on there and it does not expire. i don’t know where you live in terms of how far out of your way you need to travel to get to Culver city hall, but it just may be the option for you. i use it its awesome and drivers can deduct zones if you need them of the card. although when it comes to subways that’s the tricky part since you cant tap when coming in and out otherwise bye bye money because you are supposed to tap when going on train and when leaving station, i think.

    i talked to metro about the “cash purse”(that’s what they call it) function they said its was supposed to be available this summer but i guess not.

  6. I was able to get a TAP card by going to sales office of a bus line that uses TAP but isn’t Metro. I live in the San Gabriel Valley and was able to get a card at the ticket office for Foothill Transit. I only put a cash purse of $20, no monthly pass was necessary to get the card, and the card was free; no extra charge like at some of the other places that others have mentioned. Asked the sales attendant about putting more money on the card, and she said all I had to do was go back to the ticket office and ask to put money on the card either with cash or debit/credit, or I could call the taptogo phone number and charge it with extra money by using a credit card, although I still haven’t tried the phone option. My biggest complaint is the lack of knowledge a lot of the bus drivers have regarding TAP. I usually take the metrolink in the morning, and come back on the SilverStreak bus which is part of Foothill Transit. The metrolink ticket works as an EZ-pass for all the other lines and is a paper ticket, and when its time to take the Silverstreak, cuts the regular amount for that particular bus line from $2.50 to $1.50, but the bus driver has to put in that option for you by pressing a button on the control panel so that it charges the correctly lowered amount on the TAP. Some bus drivers do not know which of the buttons gives the discount, and some even claim that you cannot receive the discount unless you pay in cash. I got into an argument with a particular bus driver who claimed only cash payments received the discount even though I had asked other bus drivers and even called taptogo while on his bus and had confirmed that all he had to do was push a button to give a discount. Taptogo asked me to get his badge number and bus number, but when I asked them if I could get my dollar back that I was charged extra, the attendant on the phone claimed that it probably wouldnt be possible to do so. You would think that since the system is now electronic and I had a legitimate claim that it would make it easier to get my money back, but instead it just seems to have become more difficult. I even called when I was still on the same bus, not even five minutes after the transgression had occurred, and still could not get any help to get the amount that I was overcharged replaced on my account. They supposedly chastise the bus drivers that are charging travelers the incorrect amounts and train them to charge correctly, but do nothing to refund the money that is lost.

Comments are closed.