A few days ago I railed about how patently stupidious it is trying to get a new Transit Access Pass (TAP) card for use on Metro buses and trains. As I left that first post, I had been told by a TAP customer service representative that the only place I could obtain a TAP card and load it with a cash amount (as opposed to an expiration-driven monthly pass for $62) was Union Station.
It just so happened that on Tuesday I found myself at Union Station to catch the No. 439 bus to work and decided to see if that was indeed the case. Sure enough and to no real surprise, it wasn’t. The clerk at the counter there parroted the TAP rep.
“But,” I countered, “on the TAP website it says that a card can be used to store cash value!”
“Metro isn’t set up to do that,” she answered.
“Will it ever be?”
“I don’t know, sir.”
“Doesn’t that strike you as the lamest most ironic thing ever in the history of mass transportation and fare management to offer an access pass that people can’t use?”
She just smiled and apologized from behind her tinted bulletproof glass.
I could do nothing else but walk away resigned that passengers such as myself for whom monthly passes are cost-inefficient, were basically assed-out of the TAP game.
But! Later that evening instead of taking the 439 home from work, I charted a course that included the No. 6 Culver City bus up Sepulveda to the MTA’s No. 4 on Santa Monica Boulevard. And in the course of checking the No. 6’s schedule online, low and behold and hallelujah, I found mention that Culver City sells TAP cards with a cash amount of the card-holders choosing. Easy peazy.
Sure as shit, on my bike ride in to work this morning I stopped at Culver City Hall and in a manner of a few minutes, I became the owner of a TAP card loaded up with $20 — but I was immediately more skeptical of my acquisition than proud. Because when I told the clerk who assisted me that Metro doesn’t allow cash loading and only sets up TAPs with monthly passes, he solemnly sounded an ominous warning.
“Looks like we’ll be getting rid of the cash option soon and going to passes-only as well!” he said.
“I guess there’s more money in it,” he said, shrugging his shoulders.
I almost told him to keep the card, but he said that the changover wouldn’t happen for “another six months or so,” so I continued the transaction, if somewhat harumphantly.
And in the aftermath, while I’m infinitely impressed that itsty-bitsy Culver City totally powned Los Angeles by being able to get me what I wanted with no hassles or run-arounds, at the same time I now possess a piece of plastic that could be obsolete in six months (if that), unless someone at TAP and Metro gets their shit together and realizes they suck.
I’m entirely dumbfounded that there isn’t anyone at any of the involved organizations and municipalities that hasn’t raised a hand in a meeting at some point and said something like “Uh, why does it have to be passes-only? Why can’t we give customers something called ‘options’ and allow them either to add a monthly pass if that’s what they want or load in a set cash amount? And why can’t it be done online, ya dim-bulb bureaucrats!?”
Silly me, that would be common sense.